Stonehouse at San Ysidro Ranch offers ideal setting
San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito has been considered one of the most romantic boutique hotels in the world for more than a century.
An original wood-burning fireplace anchors the romantic dining room in the Stonehouse Restaurant, and outdoor tables are available on two terraces with heated limestone floors and twinkle lights overlooking the Channel Islands and Pacific Ocean.
Located in a 19th-century citrus packing house, the restaurant emphasizes imaginative regional cuisine prepared with fresh produce and herbs harvested from the onsite garden.
“It’s the ultimate romantic setting for Valentine’s Day,” said executive chef Matt Johnson, who is preparing a special menu for this year’s occasion.
Included are dishes such as Santa Barbara sea urchin and big eye tuna crudo with Persian cucumber, celery leaf salsa verde, borage flowers, crispy garlic and Meyer lemon verjus.
“The acidity of our Meyer lemons complements the saltiness of the local sea urchin, and the crispy radishes add a nice spice to balance everything out. I’m also excited to serve an elevated take on surf and turf — pan-seared Maine diver scallops with slow braised oxtail, king oyster mushrooms, baby Romanesco, sweet corn pudding and black garlic vinaigrette. The corn pudding pairs wonderfully with the scallops, and the king oyster mushrooms add a delicious earthy tone to the dish,” he added.
Other standout dishes include Santa Barbara Uni and Big Eye Tuna Crudo with Persian cucumber; Maine Lobster Bisque with American sturgeon caviar, Bellwether Farms crème fraiche, brioche croutons and garden tarragon; Filet of John Dory with pee wee potatoes, baby artichoke hearts, heirloom cauliflower, Spanish olives, confit tomato and caper nage; and Snake River Farms Wagyu Striploin with heirloom tomato risotto, sweet Maui onion confit, shaved fennel salad and wild arugula vinaigrette.
Dessert includes a choice between Budino Tart with Valrhona Alpaco chocolate and raspberry and rose confiture or Crème Brûlée flambéed tableside with passion fruit, pineapple marmalade and rum.
The cost for the four-course dinner is $230 and $330 with the wine flight.
Since 2014, the Stonehouse Restaurant has been the recipient of Wine Spectator’s highest honor, the Grand Award. This prestigious distinction, bestowed on only 97 restaurants worldwide, recognizes “extraordinary commitment to wine service.”
A Santa Barbara native, Chef Johnson joined the San Ysidro Ranch team in 2008 after sharpening his skills at the Santa Barbara School of Culinary Arts.
When he’s not in the kitchen creating elegant and imaginative menus, he can often be found gathering produce in the ranch’s organic gardens and citrus groves or sharing the Stonehouse story at high-profile events such as the Masters of Food and Wine and New York City’s James Beard House.