Sushi|Bar, located inside the historic Montecito Inn, is the second location of Phillip Frankland Lee’s critically-acclaimed omakase restaurant. In June 2017, the original Sushi|Bar opened in Los Angeles and I am told that it is currently ranked the #3 best sushi spot in Los Angeles by Time Out Los Angeles and included on Eater LA’s “21 Essential Los Angeles Sushi Restaurants.” This new 10-seat chef’s counter places patrons in front of the action with guests being able to select from two different tasting menus, a 17-course ‘full omakase’ for $110/person, or an abbreviated 9-course ‘lite omakase’ for $65/person. To start the evening, guests are encouraged to arrive before their selected seating and enjoy a cocktail, nigiri and other delicacies from land and sea. The newest outlet replaces the former Chaplin’s Martini Bar.
A free-form, interpretive take on the traditional sushi counter experience, guests are served by chefs and bartenders who prepare variations on beloved standards. The menu at Sushi|Bar changes often and showcases the abundance of local seafood native to the area, including Santa Barbara sea urchin, spot prawns, and local halibut. In additional to sourcing local seafood, Chef Lee plans to continue working directly with his contacts at the World Famous Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo to source the best seasonal Japanese fish available, flown in fresh twice weekly. While the omakase menu will vary, Sushi|Bar includes dishes such as Santa Barbara Sea Urchin with freshly grated wasabi, lemon, house-made soy sauce, black truffle, and freeze-dried Uni; Premium Japanese Hamachi, brushed with sweet corn pudding, seasoned with sourdough bread crumbs, and finished with freshly grated wasabi root and house made soy sauce; and Roasted Bone Marrow from Watkins Ranch in Ojai, served over sushi rice and garnished with fresh wasabi and house soy. Pastry Chef/Owner Margarita Kallas-Lee ends the dinner service with her inventive dessert, Kaffir Lime Ice Cream with black sesame shortbread and matcha shell.
Housed in a glowing amber room designed by Phillip Frankland Lee and Gabriel Wischmeier, the simple sushi bar is enveloped in honeyed oak and designed to invoke the feeling of traditional Japanese sushi bars found in the 1930s. Conceived as Lee’s love letter to sushi — nightly dinners will be led by head sushi chef Lennon Lee, with a selection of drink pairings and Japanese beverages, including sake, beer and Japanese whiskey all curated by Scratch Restaurants Food and Beverage Director Gavin Humes. Sushi|Bar marks the third offering from Scratch Restaurants at the historic Montecito Inn (current restaurants also include: The Monarch and The Silver Bough).
Sushi|Bar is open every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday with seatings available at 6pm, and 8pm; Friday and Saturday evenings with seatings available at 5pm, 7pm, and 9pm; and closed on Monday and Tuesday. Sushi|Bar is located inside the Montecito Inn at 1295 Coast Village Rd, Santa Barbara, CA 93108. For reservations, please visit sushibarmontecito.com.
Photos by Jakob N. Layman