I just returned from vacation. I’ll start to work updating you on the latest food news.
Anonymous Tip Line
I just returned from vacation. I’ll start to work updating you on the latest food news.
Following the opening of the fast seafood shack Frankland’s Crab & Co. this spring, Scratch|Restaurants chef-owners Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas-Lee unveil their second concept, The Monarch, within the historic Montecito Inn on Wednesday, August 1. The Monarch pays tribute to the treasures of the Central Coast with local cooking built around a rustic, wood-burning hearth in an elegant, all-day dining room and bar. Offering a collection of vegetables, fruits, herbs, seafood, and meats – paired with the regional wines – Lee helms the kitchen’s arcadian approach to living off the land. The Monarch at the Montecito Inn draws inspiration from restaurants dotting Europe’s countryside.
Directed by chef de cuisine John Butler (Mélisse, Foreign Cinema), the menu at The Monarch sources ingredients locally from Central Coast with the majority coming from within the borders of Santa Barbara County, from land to sea. Upon opening, this includes beef, pork and duck from Watkins Ranch; abalone from Cultured Abalone Farm; pastured eggs and avocados from Sage Hill Farms; lamb from Jimenez Family Farm; micro greens and wild flowers from Flora Vista Farms; herbs, greens and wild plants from Earthtrine Farms; honey from Wylde Honey Wines; new potatoes from Weiser Family Farms; red butter Salanova lettuce from Roots Organic Farm; papayas and tomatoes from Golden State Papayas; sunflower seeds and sprouts from Ojai Sprouts; and sea urchin and seaweeds from Stephanie Mutz Diving. In using ingredients that do well in the Santa Barbara climate akin to the Mediterranean, The Monarch emphasizes why the region is commonly promoted as the “American Riviera”.
Local oysters, fine spreads, and an array of flatbreads start the meal, with options such as an ocean-imbued Sea Urchin Spread with uni oil and salted cheese on sourdough bread, or a Goat’s Milk Flatbread with lemon black pepper chevre, gaunciale, pea tendrils, and smoked local honey. Carefully composed appetizers include Abalone à la Flambadou with bone marrow, lemon suprème, and capers; Yellowtail Crudo with papaya salad, passionfruit vinaigrette, and fingerlimes; or Grilled Peaches with corn pudding and housemade burrata. Entrees are served family-style, with the chef’s selection of shareable sides to accompany each main dish – each showcasing the myriad cooking methods of the wood-fired hearth – with a Pork Tenderloin brined in brown sugar and caramelized with fresh herbs in the hearth’s brick oven; Mussels from Hope Ranch buried in the coals to steam with sea beans, orange, white cardamom, and herbs de provence; an entire Shortrib slathered with a mixture of red wine and mustard before being hung fireside to slow roast for several hours; and Duck Breast lacquered with honey, jasmine, and coriander hung in the charcoal oven and finished on the wood-fired grill. For dessert, Kallas-Lee whips up sweets inspired by the pastoral environs, such as Strawberry Mousse with creme fraiche and berries, and fresh Donuts with lavender and maple.
Celebrating the region’s vintners, the wine program at The Monarch, curated by Gavin Humes, spans affordable and rare finds along the Central Coast. Standout selections include Los Olivos’ Solminer Wines, a source for Austrian wines by way of California; Santa Barbara’s popular vineyard Jonata; and Liquid Farm, with its examples of chardonnay and pinot noir. A robust cocktail and spirit selection from beverage director Rui Silva also features area ingredients, squeezed juices, and custom-made mixers, like the Mr. McGregors Revenge with Ventura Spirits’ Wilder Gin, carrot gastrique, lime, and carrot sprigs, or the Day Break with Cutwater Spirits’ Three Sheets Barrel Aged Rum, coffee liqueur, local pistachio orgeat, coconut milk, and pistachio. Beers known to the area meet a rotating draft with specialty release beers from neighborhood brewers.
The Monarch, designed in collaboration with Montecito Inn co-owner and designer Danny Copus, includes original columns anchoring the space date back nearly 100 years. Spanning the length of the dining room, a deep oak hardwood bar encapsulates the glowing flames of the hearth. Oversized arched windows framing the dining tables, created by local woodworker Albert Apodaca, provide natural light in daytime, and the glittering charm of Montecito at night. Gold accents, comfortable chairs, artisan-crafted tables, and a string of tufted dining sofas round out the decor. Custom ceramics by locals Gill Isaac Kaufman (Happy Green Merchant) and Wyn Matthews, range from plates and platters to the kitchen’s supply of clay ‘flameware’ for hearth cooking. Overseeing the operation and serving as daily ringmaster is general manager David Rosner (Wine Cask, Bar Boulud).
The Monarch is open Wednesday – Sunday for dinner from 5pm to 10pm and bar service continuing until midnight, with a daily brunch and happy hour launching soon. For more information visit themonarchmontecito.com.
Bob Lovejoy, owner of the Three Pickles sandwich shops at 126 East Canon Perdido Street and 420 South Fairview Avenue in Goleta, and the force behind the reincarnation of Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens as the Pickle Room, died in early July from an aneurysm or a stroke. He was 71.
I spoke with owner Ken Boxer who confirmed that Palazzio will not be reopening at 1026 State Street, which closed in 2015 after renovations revealed problems in the kitchen that sidelined the restaurant indefinitely. Boxer says that he would love to reopen the popular eatery elsewhere some day.
Readers Steve H., PK, Molly, and Cris let me know that McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams has opened their second local dessert destination this time choosing to be near the Funk Zone at 120 State Street, directly across the street from Rusty’s Pizza. They had a soft opening on July 12th. This “junior” location offers 16 flavors where the flagship location at 728 State Street offers 32. Creative Director Tom Stanley says they were approached by the Hotel Californian two years about bringing their famous ice cream to lower State Street and the location was built for them. Patio seating will be added in the near future.
McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams was founded by husband and wife, Gordon “Mac” and Ernesteen McConnell, in Santa Barbara, in 1949. They decided to forego the easy route of using artificial ingredients and decided to make their ice creams from scratch. Their goal was to produce “the finest ice creams in the world.” Mac and Ernie spent months developing their own recipes, along with a revolutionary, mechanized version of the European French Pot ice cream-making process. In December, 1950 they opened their first shop. McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams was an immediate success. In time, it became a Santa Barbara institution. For over a decade, customers lined up for Mac & Ernie’s ice creams at the store’s original location, on Mission and State Street where Garrett’s Restaurant is now. In 1962, with Gordon’s passing, Ernesteen sold McConnell’s to local Santa Barbaran, Jim McCoy. Over the next decades, Jim, his wife Jeney, and their family built on Mac and Ernie’s legacy, expanding distribution to new markets in Southern California. In 1975, The McCoys purchased Santa Barbara’s “The Old Dairy” and it became McConnell’s world headquarters – it remains so today – and production was turned over entirely to the making of McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams. In 2012, McConnell’s transitioned to its third generation of family ownership when Santa Barbara husband and wife, Michael Palmer and Eva Ein took the reins. The Ein-Palmers were soon joined by Pennsylvania dairy-industry-veteran Charley Price, who helped lead McConnell’s in a major renovation project. The Old Dairy’s decades-old systems were overhauled and replaced with state-of-the-art freezers and ice cream-making equipment. In 2013, McConnell’s returned to where things all started, when the flagship McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams’ store opened on State Street.
Proprietor Brendan Searls has opened Mizza, an Italian restaurant at 1112 State Street, the former home of La Arcada Bistro, Cafe Shell, and Barcliff & Bair. Brendan Searls is very familiar with running local businesses: he once owned (and has since sold) Video Shmideo in Victoria Court, Bogart’s in La Arcada, Padaro Beach Grill in Carpinteria, and 3 regional Brendan’s Irish Pub & Restaurants. He was a founding partner at Dargan’s Irish Pub and Restaurant but departed many years ago. Searls currently is a partner at Pizza Mizza in La Cumbre Plaza and Viva Modern Mexican in La Arcada where Acapulco restaurant used to be. “Our kitchen uses the freshest, locally sourced produce,” says Searls who, with his wife Kourtney, opened Mizza Artisan Pizza & Italian Cuisine last month. “We make our pizza dough and pasta fresh daily. We smoke our chicken and salmon and only use free range chicken, sustainably farmed fish and USDA Choice, Harris Ranch beef. All our sauces and dressing are made from scratch. Real whole food—from our kitchen to you!” Call 805-883-3935 or visit mizzasb.com.
Cracker Barrel restaurant has confirmed that it is coming to 905 East Betteravia Road in Santa Maria in February 2019. The 10,000+ square-foot building will sit 180 guests at one time. Cracker Barrel plans to locally hire over 225 full and part-time employees. This will be the 3rd Cracker Barrel location in California, following the brand’s opening in Victorville (February) and upcoming opening in Sacramento (scheduled for August).
Los Olivos’ The Bear and Star at 2860 Grand Avenue in Los Olivos, serving “Refined Ranch Cuisine” inspired by the Parker family at the eponymous Fess Parker Inn continues their collaborative Chef’s Table Dinners with acclaimed Chef Tim Hollingsworth, owner of Otium restaurant in Los Angeles, on Tuesday, July 24. The five-course tasting dinner featuring dishes in the Otium-style is staged in The Bear and Star’s state-of-the-art Chef’s Room and blends products raised on the Parker ranch with inspiration from Los Angeles. The Chefs Table Dinner begins with Chef Tim Hollingsworth’s Radishes with Cured Egg Yolk, Local Sardines & Smoked Olive; followed by Abalone with Cauliflower, Capers & Brown Butter. Next courses are Parker Wagyu Beef Tartare with Walnut, Lavash, Bulgur, Yogurt & Mint; Oak-Grilled Parker Ranch Texas Quail with Fava Bean Cassoulet & Foie Gras Glaze; and finally Parker Pasture-Raised Lamb with Tomato, Squash, Onion & Garlic to conclude the savory dinner. The evening is completed with dessert – Marigold Panna Cotta with Parker Ranch Honey & Basil. Expect stellar wine pairings from Santa Barbara County and beyond, curated by The Bear and Star’s General Manager Robert Williams. Pricing is $89 per guest for the dinner. Optional wine pairings are recommended at a supplementary charge of $50. The Chef’s Table seatings are available at 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. For more information, the public may call 805-686-1359; to reserve seats visit exploretock.com for tickets.
IHOP restaurant, available locally at 1701 State Street, 4765 Calle Real in Goleta, and at 1114 Casitas Pass Road in Carpinteria, is celebrating its 60th anniversary on July 17th from 7 a.m-7 p.m. by offering a short tack of pancakes for 60 cents.
This just in from reader Chompee McGillicutty: “Hi John, I just heard that Our Daily Bread is now selling bread at Lazy Acres, Vons, Albertsons, and also out of the back door of their shop if you call ahead.”
Reader Steve H. says that the Palazzio sign came down last week from its long-time home at 1026 State Street. I am also told that construction has begun on the interior. I spoke with Palazzio owner Ken Boxer who tells me lots of news if forthcoming. I’ll get back to you soon.
The 30th annual Santa Barbara French Festival returns to Oak Park, 300 West Alamar Avenue July 14 and 15 to celebrate Bastille Day and French cultural history. Admission is free and the festival is a non-smoking event. The Santa Barbara French Festival is a community event that draws people from corners near and far. It’s a Dance Festival, a Music Festival, an Arts & Crafts Festival and, of course, a Food Festival. This community fun supports Center Stage Theater and Speaking of Stories, two wonderful non-profit organizations fostering the arts in Santa Barbara.
For two days Santa Barbara celebrates its nickname “the American Riviera,” as the French Festivities transform Oak Park. Our little French village comes to life at 11:00 am when the entertainment kicks off on three different stages and continues non-stop until 7:00 pm both days. The stages will be filled with dance and music from more than 30 different acts including performances, audience participation and instruction. The favorites return every year: Tango, Django Reinhardt tributes, and the Femme Fatales Drag Revue, the Can-Can and French Polynesian dancers, and West African Belly dancing. Fans also return every year to peruse over 60 booths that offer everything from delicious French food and wine, phenomenal art and photography, to French conversation, Pétanque, face painting, French tablecloths, Fairy wings, and the official French Festival booth that sells T-shirts and Berets.
In addition to Old Spanish days in Santa Barbara there has been the Greek Festival, the Italian Festival, Jamaican Festival and many more. In 1988 long time Santa Barbara resident and Francophile, Steve Hogerman, turned his passion for all things French into the Santa Barbara French Festival. Incorporating food, entertainment, arts and French themed vendors the Festival grew to be one of the largest of the Santa Barbara cultural festivals.
Reader Peter let me know that Caffe Luxxe and Merci To Go will be sharing the space at 1028 Coast Village Road in Montecito, the former home of Xanadu French Bakery and next to Vons. Caffe Luxxe was established to bring a unique luxury to coffee and a culinary experience, championing a move towards hand crafted artisanal espresso and brewed coffee. “Our commitment to serving great coffee begins thousands of miles away at the farms where the beans are grown, where we strive for full transparency of sustainable practices,” says co-owner Mark Wain. ‘Our philosophy on roasting guides our hands, as we roast coffee to focus on the classic characteristic flavors unique to each country to bring out the depth and complexity they have to offer.”
Merci To Go is a boutique artisanal cafe created by pastry chef Elizabeth Colling. She has partnered with chef Joe Hafner to cultivate the expansion of Merci To Go. Colling earned her degree at the Ritz Escoffier in Paris before working at Spago Beverly Hills and becoming the pastry chef at Bastide. Colling was also a Food Editor of Martha Stewart Living and Martha Stewart Weddings magazines, where she developed and styled desserts for both publications. Hafner is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University and a private chef. He also cooked extensively in kitchens across France and California. Merci To Go is primarily an organic homemade food shop in Montecito with lunch, dinner and desserts that are easy to take on the go.
- Who owned The Epicurian restaurant on Carrillo St. back in the late 80’s? (and/or who was the chef?)
- There was a northern Italian restaurant on, I believe, lower Bath St (on the south side of the tracks) back in the 90’s – do you remember what the name of it was?
I sent a message recently to Jesse Gaddy, co-owner of Barbareño restaurant asking about a rumor that he is bringing Cuban cuisine to 418 State Street, the former home of India House. ”We are indeed!” said Gaddy. “We are opening a quick serve Cuban restaurant. The main tenants in the space will be Modern Times, Shaker Mill (from Brandon and Misty who own The Good Lion and Test Pilot), and us, Cubaneo. Best, Jesse Gaddy, Barbareño”
Reader Vickie let me know that Nicky D’s Wood-Fired Pizza at 2840 De la Vina Street is now the home of Lilsey’s Wood-Fired Pizza. I spoke with the new owner Jaime Romero and he tells me that he worked with Nicky for 13 years and that Nicky retired. I’m told that nothing has changed and that Nicky’s fans can expect the same great pizza. Lilsey’s has expanded the hours to 7 days a week.
Mollie’s restaurant, a second location for Montecito’s famed Trattoria Mollie, a favorite of Oprah Winfrey, has opened at 1218 State Street, the former home of Tupelo Junction Café and Marcello Ristorante. “It’s the same menu as Trattoria Mollie with a few additions,” says said Ali Ahlstrand, who operates both restaurants with his mother Mollie. “It’s a very nice addition to the city, especially next to the Granada. We are in good company with all the great restaurants around here. At the Montecito location, since Oprah put us on the map, the turkey meatballs are the staple. We will bring that over and also we will be adding lasagna. We make a pretty good homemade Lasagna Bolognese here. It will be a regular feature where it is only available on weekends in Montecito. We have Montecito customers literally come in on weekends just for the lasagna.”
During my visit to the new Mollie’s on State Street I received a good tip about being able to order off-menu items: “We have an extensive menu but a lot of people also request a custom menu,” says Ahlstrand. “We always can make something special for customers because we are a restaurant and have everything we need. If somebody is craving a particular dish, we are right there to make that. We make everything including omelets and fajitas. We are really a family restaurant to the full extent of that word.” Mollie’s is open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9:30 p.m. If the Granada is having an event Mollie’s might open earlier and stay open later to accommodate guests. Call 805-770-8300.
Founded in 2013, Creamistry, a California-based chain that specializes in made-to-order liquid nitrogen ice cream using all-natural and organic ingredients with more than 60 flavors and toppings – has announced the opening of a new downtown location. The new store, located at 935 State Street is slated to celebrate with a grand opening event on Saturday, July 7. The Santa Barbara location will be owned and operated by Bilal Temel, who also owns the Bristol Creamistry in Costa Mesa, and recently opened his second location in Woodland Hills. The Santa Barbara location will be operated by Store Manager, Michael Shangaz. “We’re excited to bring Creamistry to Santa Barbara,” said Shangaz. “The concept is in high demand and we’re thrilled with the way the community has embraced the Woodland Hills and Bristol location. Creamistry’s premium-quality product allows for fully customizable combinations, and we feel confident that the Woodlands community will fall in love with our delicious ice cream as well.”
At Creamistry customers choose a portion size, then an ice cream base (premium, organic, vegan coconut, or non-dairy sorbet), one of 30+ flavors, and then toppings from a list of 35+ options that include candy, cookies and cereal, fruits, and sauces. The ice cream is made right before the customer with a lot of billowing smoke thanks to the flash-freezing process. When the liquid nitrogen (-321° F) hits the base it freezes so fast that ice crystals don’t have a chance to develop, resulting in a decadently rich and luxuriously creamy ice cream with virtually no overrun. Visit creamistry.com.
On Sunday July 1st Black Sheep restaurant will collaborate with Mosto Crudo at 7 W. Haley Street for a pop-up called “2 Chefs, No Stove.” There will be a 6 course menu with wine specials for $65. Reservations required. Call 805-689-5679.
Reader Peter passed the word that Bettina is coming to the Montecito Country Mart (called Vons Montecito Shopping Center when I was growing up nearby) in the space occupied decades ago by a restaurant named Fred C. Dobbs. Bettina is a brick and mortar location for the mobile pizza oven service Autostrada Wood Fired Pizzeria. It will be an all-day, full service restaurant serving beer, wine and cocktails. Here is a description of the service from Autostrada’s web site:
“Rachel Greenspan and Brendan Smith are on a mission to bring the finest pizza and naturally leavened breads to Santa Barbara County. They spend their days nerding out at farmers markets and hand-pulling mozzarella cheese. Although they’re obsessed with ingredients, you don’t need to know the difference between pecorino and parmesan to enjoy Autostrada’s food— they’re devoted to honest, everyday cooking that is approachable and easy to love. Autostrada is currently available to cater events anywhere in California. They will bring their trusty mobile pizza oven and customize a menu to suit parties of any size, price point, and occasion. The team is also preparing to open their first brick and mortar location in the Montecito Country Mart.”
Bettina hopes to open this September. For updates on the restaurant opening, sign up for the newsletter at autostradapizza.com.
Reader Cris sent me an update for Spyglass Bistro and Bar on the 4th floor of the Hilton Garden Inn at 6878 Hollister Avenue in Goleta near Kmart: “John, Sitting here in Subway and noticed the ‘Spyglass’ in Spyglass Bistro and Bar is covered up on the Hilton. According to Yelp, they renamed themselves ‘The Rooftop Bistro and Bar.’ – Cris”
An ABC permit application has been filed by “Cheng An” of V Series Inc. to open a beer/wine/eating place at 901 Embarcadero del Mar in Isla Vista, the former home of Sorriso Italiano which closed last month.
Reader Bill sent me a Goleta update: “I don’t know about the Chicken in a Barrel BBQ, 5711 Calle Real in Goleta (formerly Petrini’s). I stopped by today after a visit to Trader Joe’s and saw air ducts on the floor, and absolutely no signs indicating what would go into that space. I say the Crystal Ball needs more light.” I stopped by and saw that the Chicken in a Barrel sign is indeed gone but also saw that there were construction workers inside installing the air ducts. They told me that Chicken in a Barrel is still planning to move into that spot. Reader Eureka says that there are job postings on Craigslist looking for employees for the “Chicken in a Barrel Calle Real location.”
Reader “Insure It” tells me that an ABC permit application has been filed by Taylor Melonuk of Bricklayer LLC to open a beer/wine/eating place at 18 East Cota Street, the former home of 18 East, Globe, The Pan, Cafe Luck, and Mousse Odile. Ready Lily says that Melonuk was the sous chef at Epiphany and the executive sous chef at The Lark.
The popular Rincon Brewery in Carpinteria continues to be open for business as usual but their second location, which opened in July 2017 at 6583 Pardall Road in Isla Vista (replacing former longtime tenant Giovanni’s Pizza), has closed.
After intense concentration and a wave of my hand over the all-knowing crystal ball, my eatery oracle has revealed a list of food and drink locations appearing in your future:
This just in from reader Sarah R.: “Just went by Grilled Cheese Truck in IV and they’re closed! Apparently being replaced by California Taco (but not THAT CalTaco).” Grilled Cheese Truck, which wasn’t an actual truck, opened at 956 Embarcadero Del Norte is Isla Vista four months ago.
Teddy’s by the Sea restaurant has opened at 5096 Carpinteria Avenue in Carpinteria, the former home of The Nugget, Cielo, Cabo’s, Chuy’s, and KFC.
Owners Juan and Sarah Rodriguez tell me restaurant is named after Sarah’s grandmother Theodora, or Teddy for short. Sarah is very familiar with the local food scene as she is co-owner of Omni Catering. “We are seafood focused but do have other items on the menu like a burgers, steak, and fried chicken,” said Sarah. “Right now we are running with our main menu. We are not offering specials at the moment until we get situated. In the future we will be running fresh fish specials and what’s coming in local and fresh – local Santa Barbara sea bass, halibut, and swordfish. We have oysters on the half shell, ceviche, poke nachos and things like that.”
Teddy’s has two large patios in the front, a patio in the back, and limited seating indoors including booths. Also found indoors is a bar with full liquor license where they offer margaritas, specialty cocktails, beers on tap, and more. Teddy’s has limited hours for the first couple of weeks, opening daily from 3-9 p.m. Soon they will open daily at 11 a.m. and will offer brunch at 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Call 805-566-0567
Tyler Beerman, the brewmaster and manager at Conscious Kombucha, the maker of sweetened fermented teas, has created a new local business: the Mexican restaurant Vegan Green GO which opened recently at 3613 State Street, the former home of Miso Hungry and Subway which is between Baskin Robbins and Rudy’s.
Beerman tells me that he has been vegan for only a year and has created a vegan fast-casual health-conscious Mexican food place that could appeal to carnivores: “This was inspired by street food from Los Angeles,” says Beerman. “There were vegan food trucks that were serving authentic Mexican food, street style. I looked for suppliers that offered faux meat – it looks like meat but is plant based. I tried to make it work couldn’t find anything that brought something unique to the table so everything is made from scratch in-house. We created all our own recipes and use fresh herbs and spices. My goal is to make this our first or the only vegan non-GMO and organic restaurant. The idea here is street-inspired food and health-conscious Mexican food, kind of fusing the two.”
On the main menu Vegan Green GO offers burritos, tacos, nachos or a bowl ranging in price from $11 to $15. You choose your carbs (Mexican rice with refried beans or potatoes with bell peppers-) and your protein (carne asada, chicken, chorizo, al pastor, and barbacoa), again using house-made faux meat. A variety of fixings and extras are available. Call 805-318-3161.