Dining room debuts at Solvang restaurant this weekend
In a setting that is described as “moody, yet glamorous East Coast- reminiscent,” the dining room at the Coast Range & Vaquero Bar, a steakhouse and seafood restaurant in downtown Solvang, is making its debut this weekend as part of a phased opening.
The new multi-concept hospitality venture, which includes a full cocktail bar, deli counter, cafe and pastry program, initially greeted guests in April with the opening of the Vaquero Bar and the patio dining portion of the project.
“When we decided to do Coast Range, we wanted to make sure we did it right. We designed and built the restaurant by hand. We work hard to source the best ingredients, and we care deeply about the guest experience,” said Chef Steven Fretz, a co-owner with chefs Anthony Carron and Lincoln Carson.
Featured in the Vaquero Bar is a hand-built, 16-seat bar in a 500-square foot space that has large windows and a new entryway, both of which open to patios with seating for up to 36 patrons.
The Coast Range dining room adds another 1,000 square feet of seating for up to 60 guests.
The room is accented with custom stained glass panels above a row of intimate private booths, which are also adorned with hand-leafed gold detail, according to a press release.
Glass sconces and chandeliers, crafted in Italy, line the walls of the booths and dangle from the gilded, pressed-tin ceilings above the curved leather banquettes. Each booth’s theme is separate from the others with one such nook displaying equestrian artwork, and another has a nautical look.
“We’re so grateful to have had so much community support, in some cases very literally, as some of our friends and neighbors helped with the heavy lifting, physically, of putting beams in place, stacking bricks and moving a 2,000-pound grill,” said Chef Carson.
Dinner items include dishes such as cream of chanterelle soup (leeks, cipollini, cranberry); Lobster Thermidor (a two-pound Maine lobster with brandied lobster cream, glacéed mushrooms and Gruyere cheese; Wagyu Beef Stroganoff (handmade tagliatelle, horseradish cream and red wine mushrooms); or the Coast Range Beef Wellington (tenderloin, bresaola, spinach crêpe and sauce perigourdine).
The restaurant also offers desserts that rotate in and out, such as a Valrhona Chocolate soufflé with green chartreuse gelato; brioche donuts with a brown butter glaze or an apple tart with walnut frangipane and vanilla bean gelato.
Vaquero Bar’s full cocktail menu is sectioned into Martinis, Old Fashioneds, Margaritas, Sours, Mules, Negronis, Collins and Tikis. Each section offers three different drink options with imaginative twists like the Midnight Rider Old Fashioned, which includes Old Forester 100 Bourbon, maple, black walnut bitters and red oak smoked; or in the Ramblin’ Man Margarita with Milagro Tequila, pineapple, champagne and black salt.
As wine director, Rajat Parr will add to the Coast Range wine list on an ongoing basis.
More than just business partners, the Coast Range founders are longtime friends who first worked together over a decade ago and now call the Santa Ynez Valley home.
Chef Carron was the executive chef for Michael Mina for many years, then went on to found 800 Degrees Wood Fired Kitchen and Top Round, two Los Angeles-based casual dining brands.
Chef Fretz is also a co-founder of Top Round, opened Church Key in Los Angeles and has worked with chefs such as Mr. Mina, David Burke and Curtis Stone.
A celebrated pastry chef and 2020 finalist for a James Beard Award, Mr. Carson was previously chef/owner of Bon Temps in downtown Los Angeles, which received local and national acclaim including recognition as a “best new restaurant” from Los Angeles Magazine, Los Angeles Times, TimeOut LA, Esquire and Food & Wine. Fall of this year will see the opening of Mr. Carson’s new Mes Amis, a California-style brasserie, located in the Thompson Hollywood hotel.
World-renowned winemaker, sommelier, author, James Beard Award winner and Central Coast resident, Mr. Parr has curated a focused wine list of the best of the Central Coast, Northern California classics, and special steak-and seafood-friendly wines from around the world.
Additional team members are partner Hillary Calhoun, an experienced marketing professional who oversees marketing, events and catering for Coast Range & Vaquero Bar, plus general manager and barman Joseph Sabato, who has worked in many of the nation’s finest restaurants including The Bazaar by José Andrés, XIV by Mr. Mina, Katsuya, Sona and Ortolan.
Located above Coast Range are two fully-equipped vacation rental units, which can be booked individually or combined. Affectionately named “The Johnny” and “The Dolly,” they can be booked through Airbnb.
“My wife Hillary and I moved to Santa Ynez seven years ago, and we’ve been thinking about our dream restaurant ever since,” said Mr. Carron.
“To be able to create this project with some of our best friends that I’ve worked with for so many years and bring our collective vision to our community, it’s surreal.”