* Click here for rating key
The Dining Room at Belmond El Encanto Restaurant Review: French chef Patrice Martineau arrived in Santa Barbara via Tokyo. Echoes of his classical training fuse with Japanese techniques in multinational dishes like confit salmon with a yuzu-kosho crust. Or consider the artful stripes of sabayon surrounding umami citrus-cured hamachi --- a French take on an Italian dessert meets Japanese sashimi. The setting at Belmond El Encanto, though, is pure Santa Barbara, with island and city views, twilight silhouettes and a refined yet casual vibe. Cocktails on the terrace lead to a main room, where modern art meets century-old architecture; indeed, this renovated hotel perched atop the Riviera is one of the city’s most beloved spots. Herbs are grown onsite. Cheese is made from the milk of the property’s resident cow. Local sea urchin is served unfettered, with crisp butter toasts and condiments like capers. Braising tames the bitter edge of endives in an entrée of plump scallops topped with orange cappuccino. Terrestrial dishes include Prime New York strip grilled over Japanese charcoal and intensely flavored Kobe-style beef cheeks braised to tenderness in red wine. A refreshing departure from local exclusivity, the wine list includes labels from around the world, as well as some of California’s finest.