Anthony Rose visits The Hitching Post II - made famous by wine film Sideways...

The Hitching Post II

On the face of it, the Hitching Post II is just another local Californian steak house. Opened by Frank Ostini, a Pinot Noir lover and winemaker, it coasted happily until the release of the film Sideways in 2004. By the following year, the unremarkable brown–painted, timbered building with its yellow neon sign had become a destination restaurant for residents of Los Angeles and visitors to the pretty wine country surrounds of the Santa Ynez Valley.

I arrived to find the happy-birthday-to-you crowd represented along with an undazzling array of T-shirt and jeans slobs. An attentive waitress, albeit not quite Virginia Madsen from Sideways, served a refreshing antipasto plate of fresh olives, radishes, spring onions and pickled cucumber, followed by a quesadilla appetiser. The folded ‘Mexican’ tortilla, amply filled with cheese, corn and peppers, melted in the mouth all the more readily for being washed down by a gulpable 2013 Hitching Post Portenza Pinot Noir.

Sitting over an open fire of red oak wood were some of the most massive slabs of beef I had ever seen, Argentina included. Deciding against the 26 ounce Angus Rib Chop, I opted instead for a 12 ounce rib-eye steak cooked medium rare, ‘still red inside, when the juices start to flow’, and sure enough it arrived oozing its juice and fats, and dissolving so tenderly that I had to remind myself to chew more then seemed necessary. A fragrantly sagey, opulent, subtly gamey 2000 Hitching Post Sanford & Benedict Pinot Noir was the proverbial perfect match.

The dessert menu had to be politely brushed away as I was keen not to have to pierce another notch in my belt. Whatever points it may or may not score for its desserts, The Hitching Post is all about the steaks, the Pinot Noir, and the excellent service. The three elements have been carefully honed over time by an owner who’s well aware how to ensure that his customers leave with broad smiles on their faces and a burning desire to tell their friends about the place.

The Hitching Post II
406 E Highway 246, Buellton, CA 93427
+1 (805) 688-0676
http://hitchingpost2.com