Monday, March 24, 2008

Great Day in SB

John and I had a great time in Santa Barbara this past weekend. We had planned to get on the road early by 8:30am, but when that alarm went off we were not feeling like early raisers! It was just another sad reminder of how old we are getting! We totally snoozed it and didn’t leave the house until 10:30am! It totally wasn’t my doing though…I was on the birthday boy’s schedule. Plus have you ever known me to argue with someone who tells me to sleep in?

Our first stop once we got into town was to Sambo’s for a late breakfast. John had eaten at Sambo’s before for a company function, and ever since he went there he’d wanted to take me there. Sambo’s used to be called Little Black Sambo’s and was a chain of restaurants all throughout the West Coast. However due to racism issues people had with the name/book, all of the restaurants eventually closed down, except for the one in SB. It is the only one left. You can check out the history of the restaurant here. (Thanks to my super researcher friend Sarah V.)

So do you all remember the children’s book Little Black Sambo? It was one of my favorite stories when I was a kid, and even remember the cover of he book was red. John on the other hand has no memory of the book, but according to his mom she read it to him many times! Poor dude…even at 31 his memory is totally shot! John’s parents also said that there used to be a Sambo’s restaurant in Eureka, where Christine’s Diner currently is. Now I really don’t remember that! I’m thinking it might have shut down before my family moved north. However I happened across this website that has photos of ALL of the Sambo’s restaurants! Can you believe it? Below are the photos of the Eureka location, but there was also one in Ukiah, AND Arroyo Grande!! Isn’t that crazy? So you remember the one in Ukiah?

I was a little disappointed when I first saw the images of Sambo and the tigers in the restaurant. For one he was wearing a turban and his skin was very light! I definitely did not remember him sporting a turban in the book! I have the feeling that the new images could be one of the reasons why this Sambo’s is the last one standing.

The place was really packed so we decided to sit at the counter. This turned out to be quiet exciting as we had just watched an episode of No Reservations where Anthony Bordain went back to his old restaurant of employment to work a double shift. I learned so much about restaurant kitchens in that episode…mainly that it’s a total madhouse! I have a much greater respect for all people who work in fast paced kitchens. I was totally having flash backs of the busy days I had while working at Cold Stone.

Throughout our whole meal we got to sit there and watch the chaos. John decided to start off his birthday right with a celebratory mimosa.

We were able to watch our waiter make it and as we noticed that the champagne to orange juice ratio wasn’t really even. It was more like ¾ champagne and ¼ orange juice! As you can see it was not served in an ordinary mimosa glass! Even though they were pouring the champagne like it was going out of style it tasted pretty good…so I don’t think it was that cheap. Everything about our meal was fantastic. John got a good lookin’ breakfast burrito and I got a scramble with spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, and some of the best hollandaise sauce I’d ever had.

Since we were in no rush to be anywhere we decided to order another mimosa. When our waiter came by again, we asked him for another one, and at the same time he gave us our check. He said that since he was too lazy to re-ring up the check that the drink would be on the house! We couldn’t believe it…but what was more shocking was that this mimosa had even MORE champagne in it than the last! It looked like he was trying to finish off the bottle, which resulted in him only putting in about a tablespoon of orange juice! No joke! If we were judging a ‘waiter of the year’ contest he definitely would have won in our book!

Once we took a look at the bill we noticed that we didn’t get charged for our two hot chocolates either! How could we possibly be getting so much free stuff?? This never happens!! So we gave the dude a huge tip to compensate for the drinks. However he almost fell over when he saw it. We thanked him and I mentioned how it was John’s birthday then he said it was his on Monday! Those Aries’ I swear…they’ve got some weird connection.

On our way out I had to stop and get a souvenir. I had to add to my collection of restaurant t-shirts! Some day there will be a contest/competition involving restaurant t-shirts and I will win! Mark my word! (Note to self...add to goal list.)

Anyway, I got a t-shirt and a copy of the Little Black Sambo book!! I was SO excited! Right when I saw the cover photo it totally brought back memories of the story.

Then when I flipped through I noticed a few other pictures that I remembered!

How could I forget the tiger with the shoes on his ears? So silly!! I did not remember that his dad was the one who found the tiger butter, or that they ate pancakes at the end of the story. I totally should have gotten some pancakes at the restaurant. Maybe next time.

When I was reading the story I came across these two lines:

"...there was nothing left but a great big pool of melted butter (or "ghi," as it is called in India)..."

So I guess Sambo lived in India? I had no idea…so I guess I shouldn’t be that mad that they gave him the turban in the restaurant photos. John also told me that back in the day anyone who wasn’t white was considered black. Soooooooo lame.

After our late breakfast we had some time to kill before our movie so we cruised the pier. The weather online said it was to be 72 degrees. Yeah right! It was more like 80! It was totally hot. I hate it when the real tourists are dressed more appropriately than I am!

A few years ago when we spent the day in SB before heading down to LA we saw Maria Full of Grace. The theater we saw it at was called the Metropolitan Riviera Theatre and it was totally sketchy. It had one screen and seemed to be located next to some research facility. I stayed clear from the guys in the lab coats and did not ask questions.

When we decided to see another movie in SB we did not think we’d have another odd experience, but we did! The Metropolitan Plaza de Oro Theater only had 2 screens and was hardly noticeable from the road! We actually drove by it the first time, and then couldn’t find the correct parking lot. We saw Girls Rock, which we both really enjoyed, but there were like 4 other people in the theater and it was a Saturday afternoon! I couldn't believe how dead it was. What was also shocking is that the theater still had its original d├ęcor which looked like it was from the 70’s. They had the fabric draped on all the walls, old fake red brick flooring, and really old light fixtures. It reminded us of the State Theater in Arcata.

Despite feeling like we were in a time warp we both really enjoyed the movie. If they had that rock camp when I was younger I know I would have totally rocked the drums. I mean I was already awesome just on my smurf drum set. Imagine me on the real thing! (I’m sure my parents wouldn’t want to imagine that!).

We ended our night by going to one of our favorite restaurants of all time, The Palace. The Palace has amazing Louisiana style food, a great atmosphere and an extremely nice staff. When I had called to make reservations they asked if we were celebrating a special occasion, and I totally hesitated in telling them it was John’s birthday, but told them anyway. John has always emphasized that he never wants any restaurateurs to know that it is his birthday. I knew this was a HUGE risk, but I was thought that maybe he’d have lighten up a little in his old age. Well let me tell you that his tone definitely wasn’t ‘light’ when he saw the waitress bring over his bread pudding with a candle in it. I totally lucked out that no one sang to him, AND he got his dessert for free! Score for me! It's always nice to let a free dessert prove my point that it totally pays off to tell peeps it’s your birthday.

Here’s a shot of his bread pudding:

Here is a shot of our crawfish appetizer:

Here’s a shot of my crawfish pasta dish. I LOVE it!

About an hour into the meal the restaurant staff breaks into song and they all go around to all the tables and clink glasses. I got a quick vid of it, but you really have to be there to enjoy it to the fullest.

Overall it was a very successful day, even though I feel a bit guilty for having so much fun when it wasn’t even my birthday! I can't wait until next year!


Anonymous said...

I do remember the Sambo's in Ukiah. I used to have lunch there with some business people.

I don't remember any booze being served there.

Big D

jay said...

That story is in one of the books we read to Laina... the whole tiger-butter pancakes thing has got to be the weirdest ending of any story I've ever read... And the kid has a turban in ours, too.

Judy S said...

Yes, we ate at Sambo's in Ukiah and I was mad
when it closed. All I could remember of Sambo
was he wore something purple and he had a coat.
So, thanks for the pix!

Sounds like a perfect b-day celebration as long
as Amber is the designated driver!