Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bella Vista @ The Four Seasons, Biltmore

You'll find Bella Vista tucked away in the center of the luxurious Four Seasons Biltmore in beautiful Montecito, California. I'm always a little leary of restaurants inside hotels, but this one is worth a visit. This was the first night of our Babymoon vacation, so you might imagine that my expectations were high, to say the least. I am delighted to report that the food and the service lived up to my standard.

Bread Basket:
It was not served warm, but Dear Ben indulged on several pieces of the kalamata olive bread. It's an attractive looking spread if you're a bread-eater.

I started with the Biltmore Organic Salad. The fresh leafy greens are served with marinated multi-color tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, sunflower sprouts, and a blood orange vinaigrette. Though the dressing had a touch too much salt, it was overall a pleasant way to begin a nice meal.

Biltmore Organic Salad

Dear Ben took a heartier approach in his first course, the Wild Mushroom and Leek Tart. Actually, this could have been a meal at brunch. The tart was topped with a perfectly poached egg, truffle frisee salad, and some crispy prosciutto. I dare you to tell me you're not salivating now.

Wild Mushroom and Leek Tart

The reason we chose to stay at the Bella Vista for dinner: The Santa Barbara Spot Prawns. It was Chef Jose Andres at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills that turned me on to these lovely little presents from the sea. Once you try one, you'll understand. Sweet and succulent, these rare crustaceans are worth seeking out. They are often served with their heads on to indicate that they're fresh (you've got to buy them live), but Dear Ben took away the evidence so I could focus on the sheer beauty of their flavor.

Meals from the grill are served with your choice of two sides and a sauce. I choose the Truffled Whipped Potatoes and French Green Beans, both of which I'd order again. I ordered the Lemon Caper Butter as my sauce. No, not to taint the spot prawns, but as a compliment to the side dishes.

Santa Barbara Spot Prawns

Dear Ben selected the Ojai Honey-Glazed Sea Bass. The sea bass is served atop a Spinach and Chickpea Fritter and then capped with a mountain of crispy Snow Pea Salad and Cherry Tomato Relish. It tasted exactly how you would expect it to, flaky and mild, yet taking on a sweet sensation from the honey glaze. The snow pea salad offered a crunchy contrast, but the fritter was what I heard the most about from Dear Ben. He loved it!

Ojai Honey-Glazed Sea Bass

You betcha we saved room for dessert. I wanted two, but even our server suggested we just get one. It was SUCH a hard decision because there were several items that caught my eye, but ultimately decided on the Banana Brownie Sundae. It's served in a martini glass with banana rum ice cream, chocolate ice cream, brownie bits, and a carmel sauce. Truly, it was layered together in just the right way. In fact, I thought about it for days afterwards.

Banana Brownie Sundae

What a sweet surprise! Perhaps this is why our server thought we should only order one dessert... We were treated to another dessert plate in honor of our Babymoon. Two chocolate dipped strawberries (healthy vitamins for baby), three different truffled chocolates, and a buttery shortbread cookie. Those complimentary chocolates are usually the kind where you take a bite and leave it alone, but each one of these won favor in our hearts.

Bella Vista, you made the start of our Babymoon vacation one to remember.

We dined a Bella Vista again for lunch two days later (January 1st). The sourdough bread was served warm, and was so delicious that I asked for another basket. I only wish that the butter had been served at room temperature for easier spreading.

I ordered the lobster salad sandwich with avocado and tiny greens, which was served with a generous portion of lobster meat. I had fresh fruit alongside of my sandwich, and it was a great lunch to start 2010.

Dear Ben ordered the Open-Faced Grilled Tuna Sandwich with baby spinach, smoked tomato slice, and fries. While it wasn't anything extraordinary, the fish was seared on the outside and medium-rare on the inside, and this is just what he wanted.

We both thought thought the lunch was just lovely, even though it can set you back about $70. If it's warm enough, ask to sit on the patio where you can watch the waves and perhaps catch a glimpse of dolphins swimming in the surf.

Now, I just need to go back for their popular brunch that everyone raves about...

Bella Vista
Four Season Biltmore
1260 Channel Drive
Santa Barbara, California 93108

Bella Vista on Urbanspoon


  1. I just left Santa Barbara this morning. I wish I had read this post first! I'm saving you to my favorites.

  2. Thanks, Mary! I hope you found some delicious food finds while in SB. Any suggestions for my next visit?