Conveniently nestled within The Biltmore Santa Barbara, owned by Beanie Baby tycoon Ty Warner and managed by Four Seasons Resorts, Bella Vista Restaurant offers exquisite Californian cuisine inspired with Italian touches and organic ingredients, while providing stellar service and stunning picturesque ocean views. Locally known as “The Biltmore”, this lushly landscaped historic property has much to offer its guests and visitors. Located across from the hotel lobby is one of those offerings…Bella Vista Restaurant.
Chef Alessandro Cartumini incorporates the finest local organic and sustainable ingredients in the dishes that are prepared. Each culinary element is uniquely incorporated to construct fine dishes of stellar flavor to enhance the lifestyle of California coastal living. Local Santa Barbara wines as well as vino brought in from around the world are offered on the restaurant’s distinct menu for your palatable pleasure, while a well-organized and extensive array of cuisine selections is available to choose from.
We dined inside beside a double-sided fireplace. A plethora of items enhanced the ambiance such as fresh dark pink tulips on tables, a garden environment with the sound of running water from an indoor fountain, and a sizable flame inside a fireplace produced just the right amount of warmth and romantic allure to create a relaxed and intimate environment.
Lunch along the seaside of beautiful Santa Barbara, California. What could be better? Step onto the outdoor terrace equipped with heaters for chillier evenings along the California coast, and feel the ocean breeze from Butterfly Beach across the street. Dine inside in the spacious “outdoor-style” restaurant in front of a roaring fire or near the babbling water fountain at the eatery’s main entrance.
Warm Focaccia Bread Served With Tomato Dipping Ragu
When it comes to the bread offering an establishment delivers before a meal, I am one to make mental notes about the presentation, texture and flavor of the type of bread, accoutrements provided if any, and the overall experience I encounter from my first look to my last bite. No, I’m not an undercover bread critic, but I do care a lot about what an eatery serves its patrons. More times than not, I have found that the bread presentation sets the tone for the entire meal…no matter what it is that you’re ordering. This particular time, I was pleasantly surprised with what I was served. The warm, fresh-from-the-oven fragrant focaccia bread nearly melted in my mouth upon first bite. The tomato ragu that accompanied the heavenly slices of bread was pungent, yet not overpowering enough to not enjoy it with the focaccia. It was superb. And the tone for our lunch was set.
Roasted Beet Salad
Not a huge fan of beets (no offense to you beet lovers out there!), there have been a couple of occasions that stopped me in my tracks that involved beets prepared in some way that caught my attention. This was one of those. The salad was comprised of colorful arugula, candied pecan halves, and slow roasted beets all tossed in a flavorsome light citrus vinaigrette. A healthy not-too-filling start to a delightful meal.
Chef’s Signature Steamed Mussels
A Chef’s Signature dish, the Steamed Mussels, appeared before us in all its vibrantly hued splendor. The aromatic level of this presentation of tender mussels in a balsamic and roasted tomato conglomeration was enhanced further with the addition of fresh garden basil and mild pancetta. Three crisp grilled slices of Italian toast were carefully placed atop this beautiful dish before being presented to us. Flavor and presentation were the main features of this eye-catching vibrant offering, as we happily savored every bite.
Seafood Cobb Salad
I selected the Seafood Cobb Salad. Perfectly chilled Romaine hearts chopped beneath piles of healthy and flavorsome goodness the likes of plump lump crabmeat, tender chicken breast chunks, crunchy savory bacon, rich hand-crumbled blue cheese. A house made creamy ranch dressing accompanied this lunch entrée on the side (as I requested). This dish can also be tossed in the kitchen before being served at your request. Of course, these photos show my salad before I tossed it myself to preserve the beauty of each ingredient that made up this incredibly crunchy and filling garden of flavor.
The Local Halibut presentation arrived atop a stunning pale green pool of creamy avocado puree. The delectable fish was meticulously cooked to our specifications, then was paired with Swiss chard and dried California raisins. A final touch of fresh grapefruit and orange sections were chosen to crown the entrée for a finishing touch. This offering was vibrant in hue, aromatic to the nose, and possessed a sensational and delightful contrast of flavors between the mildness of the fish and the acidity of the citrus and raisins calmed by the soothing avocado puree.
After lunch, a relaxing walk around the grounds of the property completed a wonderful lunch date with my husband. The grounds are meticulously cared for by skilled landscapers and maintained with an obvious pride in what they accomplish. The architecture, a blend of Spanish-Colonial and Moorish design, is unforgettable. Though we have not yet stayed at The Biltmore Santa Barbara Four Seasons Resort yet, we greatly enjoyed dining at Bella Vista for lunch, and plan to put this stunningly beautiful resort on our list of locales to visit in the future.
- ESTABLISHMENT / DECOR: Dining indoors, we experienced a feeling of upscale comfort. Casually elegant with an array of areas to select from, Bella Vista is extremely spacious and accommodating. Outdoors on the terrace, space heaters are available for those chillier California evenings, while the sounds and smells of salt air drift from the oceanside lulling patrons with the ocean’s calming elixir of crashing waves onto the shore.
- FOOD / DRINK: Preparations were to our specifications, presentations were bold colored and pleasing to the eye, and libations were chilled and immediately replaced immediately when requested.
- LOCATION: Bella Vista Restaurant is located at 1260 Channel Drive in Santa Barbara, CA 93108 inside The Biltmore Santa Barbara Four Seasons Resort.
- HOURS: Bella Vista serves breakfast Monday through Saturday from 7 AM to 11:30 AM and on Sunday from 7 AM until 10 AM. The eatery offers a breakfast buffet Monday through Saturday between 7 AM and 11 AM, and again on Sundays from 7 AM until 10 AM. Brunch is available Sundays from 10 AM to 1:30 PM. Lunch is presented daily from 11:30 AM to 3 PM, while afternoon tea is offered with a 24-hour advance notice reservation Fridays and Saturdays from 2 PM until 4 PM. (*Please call 805-565-8237 for afternoon tea reservations.) Dinner service from Sunday through Thursday is attainable from 3 PM until 9 PM, as well as on Friday and Saturday between 3 PM and 10 PM.
- SERVICE / STAFF: Four different servers attended to us at different intervals throughout our meal, but were all very cordial and attentive. The manager stopped at each table during our visit around to ensure customer satisfaction.
- PRICE / VALUE: We were happy with the pricing of what was for the quality of what we received.
- CORKAGE FEE: $35 per 750mL bottle.
- CONTACT INFO: Phone: (805) 969-2261, Website: www.fourseasons.com/santabarbara/dining
- PARKING: There is a complimentary private parking area on the property for guests of the resort as well as visiting diners of the restaurant with ample spaces.
- PRICING: The Chef’s Special of Steamed Mussels was priced reasonably at $13, while $14 covered the order of the Roasted Beet Salad. My Seafood Cobb Salad came in at an acceptable $29, and my husband’s Local Halibut entrée fit the bill at a solid $28. Two glasses of Iconoclast Chardonnay came in at $12 per glass.
* Menu and prices subject to change without notice.