Posted by lemonjelly on:
The night James Franco arrived late to his own tribute, the Harbor Restaurant down on Stearns Wharf was the scene for the after-party. It was a beautiful clear night, a little balmy and pleasant for a Santa Barbara winter. The tradition of having a piss-down rainstorm during the SBIFF had yet to materialize.
While many locals might avoid Wharf restaurants except when guests visit from out of town, the Harbor Restaurant has been a dependable host to SBIFF events and provided a welcome space to party-goers. What I'm saying here is that it was a treat to wine and dine on the pier amongst well-dressed filmmakers and film lovers rather than the usual crowd of pasty bedraggled tourists who pronounce the double Ls in Cabrillo.
The interior has a nautical theme with lines reminscent of sailboats - curved wooden lines, masts, and surrounding shades of blue to match the ocean and sky. The ladies preparing the cocktails and hors d'oeuvres also had a consistent theme of short skirt lines which only added to the appeal of the party scene.
Chopin Vodka provided the open bar. They've been a long-time sponsor of the SBIFF, even though company ownership changes. Tonight they offered popular vodka-based cocktails like the screwdriver or cosmpolitan. For pilsner lovers, there was Stella Artois, another sponsor. Side note: when I lived in England, the movies that played on prime time telly were often sponsored by Stella, so it's interesting to see a consistency in this brand's continual support of film.
The food provided was classic party nosh. There was a large buffet piled with hot dogs, sliders, little hamburgers, and dainty cups of fish and chips. If it's any testament to their popularity, SBIFFers descended upon the buffet like a wave of locusts, leaving empty chafing dishes in their wake. Much like I imagine the fans were when Franco finally showed up, so too was the buffet zone mobbed by the party crowd who were famished after the longer-than-usual tribute evening. Hence, I have no photos of it, other than the calm before the storm. Next time maybe I should bring a crate to stand on.
But the wandering platters of nibbles that would come by the tables, yes! I have photos of some of these tasty morsels.
Buffalo wings with blue cheese dressing passed by often, and chicken wraps, miniature ahi tostadas, and cheese bites. One of my favorite items was the shrimp cocktail. Lots of hands went grabby grabby for those.
A few other unpictured items that passed by included beef skewers and fried wontons. The Harbor Restaurant offered an vast number of nibbles, much more than I saw at the opening night party. This was not an event where people went away hungry, it was a fried food delight.
In addition to my foodspotting, I did a little local people spotting. Noted attendees: Parry Gripp and his wife Aylene. Parry originally made a name for his band Nerfherder with the themesong to the Buffy television series. More recently, I've been a long time fan of his song a week website. His past experience with the SBIFF planners did not go unnoticed this year, and his jingle about the megaphone became this year's opening credits.
Also spotted: local shorts filmmakers Ted Mills and Jason Hallows. Both of them will have their films showing at the Lobero on 3 February. I like seeing local guys at local restaurants.
210 Stearns Wharf
Santa Barbara, CA 93101