Hello!! It’s been awhile since I’ve done a full-on restaurant review, and since I had the most incredible meal recently at The Dining Room at the Belmond El Encanto, this post is much needed. Honestly, I feel like it would be rude of me not to share my experience, because it was just that good. Santa Barbara has a gem in the hills, people!!
Hands-down this is the best view you can get while dining in SB. If you dine al fresco (which you should), you are blessed with panoramic views of all of SB and the ocean. It’s pretty breathtaking.
If you aren’t enchanted enough by the views, the seasonal menus will do the trick. I love a restaurant that does the local/sustainable/seasonal thing, and The Dining Room has that on lock. Each dish is created with seasonal and local produce. Herbs and greens that end up on your plate are freshly picked from the chef’s garden, and they even make their own cheese from the milk of Ellie, the resort’s cow. A cute little resort cow?! I die. PS- her milk makes such amazing cheese!!
Beets with mache, citrus, and cheese. I’m a sucker for edible flowers, too.
Quick tip- when dining out, try to fit in veggies. I always either order an app with veggies (salad, beets, gazpacho), or make sure to get some with my entree. That way you fill up on the nutrient-dense foods and get all the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals veggies have to offer.
Santa Barbara Sea Urchin Panna Cotta with Caviar and Fresh Cheese
This appetizer was an all-around winner in my book. Presentation on point, fresh, local, and delicious. It was some of the best uni (sea urchin) I have ever had. Plus, caviar and brioche toast points are two of my favorite food groups. 😉 If you can nab fresh sea urchin at your local fish market, do not hesitate to try it. Uni is light, slightly sweet, and tastes ever-so-slightly of the ocean in the best way possible. And it melts in your mouth like buttahhhh.
Sea Bass with Gnocchi and Burst Tomatoes
My dining partner (aka my lil sis) let me try a bite of her gnocchi, and it was superb. I have never met a gnocchi that I didn’t like. And apparently she hasn’t either, because this was devoured in 3.5 seconds. I kid, I kid. But she said the fish was cooked to perfection, and that she could eat this dish every night and never get tired of it, so we will take her word.
Branzino with Brussels Sprouts and Carrots with Lemon Olive Oil
Just being real here: these were my favorite Brussels sprouts ever. The trick is that they were prepared in a way that allowed them to develop that gorgeous crispy exterior and toasty flavor. No bitterness or rubberiness here! (If you are not a Brussels sprouts fan, try roasting them or grilling them. Don’t steam ’em, because nobody likes a soggy sprout.) Let them crisp up and you will fall in love, promise.
Branzino is a delicious fish that makes a perfect “gateway fish” for those who are not seafood lovers. It is anything-but-fishy in flavor, so whip up this fish at home for those who don’t have a love for fish yet. This entree was so simple, yet so divine. Well done, El Encanto.
Enchanted Floating Island
This dessert was floating island perfection. We all know I am meringue obsessed, so it’s a no-brainer that I just wanted to take up residence on the little floating meringue island. Get this- El Encanto has been serving this dessert since 1929! It’s their signature dessert, and the love runs deep. No trip to The Dining Room is complete without it.
Naturally, this is the perfect place for celebrations. How did they know pink is my favorite color?
After dinner peppermint tea
Always get peppermint tea after dinner. It is so soothing after a heavy meal, and helps to ease any tummy woes you may have. Ginger or fennel tea would do the trick, too.
If you are ever looking to experience a beautiful, mouth-watering meal for a special celebration, give The Dining Room at Belmont El Encanto a try. They just rolled out their amazing new Spring menu (which I have not tried…yet), so please go, and let me know what you try!!
As always, have a fab week!