The Ballard Inn Restaurant
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The Ballard Inn Restaurant Restaurant Review: An intimate space with just a dozen tables, The Restaurant at Ballard Inn is located in one of the oldest townships in the Santa Ynez Valley. But chef Budi Kazali doesn't fall back on tradition alone. His menu features dishes that combine his Asian background with the European roots of classic California wine country cuisine, drawing local winemakers who have made this one of their regular hangouts. There is a clear emphasis on rich, robust main ingredients that lend themselves to partnering with wine. Sonoma duck breast is pan-seared and served with a creamy sweet potato purée and a balsamic reduction. Filet mignon comes with blue-cheese scalloped potatoes, rich enough for a really big red. The menu also pays smart attention to seafood, and includes pan-seared scallops with curried cauliflower purée and grilled Atlantic salmon with rock shrimp risotto. The wine list offers a nice cross-section of mainly local, small-production labels, and an onsite tasting room (open only on weekends) features a seasonally rotating selection. Round off your meal with a dessert wine or a slice of warm chocolate cake with hazelnut ice cream.