My favorite week of the year in the Santa Ynez Valley – Restaurant Week. A select group of restaurants choose to participate in offering a prix fixe 3 course meal for the price of the numerical year – $20.13! My plotting and planning started well in advance of Day 1 and I found myself with reservations for all 7 days! I thought it would be fun to share my culinary adventure with you wine aficionados!
Day 1 Sunday at Trattoria Grappolo
We kicked off the week with lunch at Trattoria Grappolo (in between NFL playoff games!). We started off with a Primavera Salad, spring mix with goat cheese, walnuts and cherry tomatoes with a light balsamic vinaigrette. The main course was a full size portion of Pumpkin Ravioli’s, a fall offering revisited & my favorite pasta of the week! We paired this with one of our favorite whites off the wine list, a Jermann Pinot Grigio. The dessert was a caramel flan, a light finish to a delicious meal.
Day 2 – Hadsten House
It was a perfect end to the three day weekend — dinner at the Hadsten House, a first time dining experience for us. The dining room was a bit dark and quiet but our server got us started with the pan seared diver scallop served over parmesan risotto paired with a glass of Au Bon Climate Chardonnay. It was the most delicious scallop I have ever eaten and I will be back for the full size entree! The main course was a perfectly cooked Gorgonzola crusted filet mignon wrapped in bacon which we enjoyed with a Demetria Pantheon. Dessert was a tasty flourless chocolate tart. The portions were a bit small but so delicately prepared, we left satisfied.
Day 3 – Dos Carlitos
Tonight I ventured down to Dos Carlitos in Santa Ynez, a favorite spot for a killer margarita and great Mexican food in a fun and casual atmosphere. I started out with the Roasted Red Pepper Soup, deliciously seasoned. I choose a dish I’ve had before, the Rock Shrimp Tacos! The fresh ingredients they use enhance these rock shrimp to create delicious tacos, especially the papaya salsa. Perfect for a weeknight dinner, the meal finished off with a Mexican Flan. Home by 7 without a meal to cook, I could get use to this!
Day 4 – Petros Los Olivos
Today was an odd one back in the ‘back office’ of Stolpman: Computer malfunctions, odd phone calls & eccentric personalities – Oh my! When things slowed down around 3:30, Kari and I realized we had missed lunch and were famished. The remedy? – duck out the back door over to Petros in Fess Parkers Inn in Los Olivos. We broke the wine trend by enjoying a Mosquito Mojito (a mojito flavored with pomegranate juice – yum!!). Kari had the Louisa salad and I the Arugula – both were delicious. I moved on to the Keftethes, braised meatballs served with mashed potatoes and spinach. Kari had the Horiatiki Pizza – topped with tomatoes, olives, avocado with feta, which would have been enough for both of us (but I had to have the meatballs!) We boxed up half so we could enjoy the Baklava and Bougatsa, custard wrapped in phyllo with vanilla ice cream. Back to the office by 5 to close up!
Day 5 – Succulent Cafe & Trading Company
With my husband out of town, I found myself running out of dining companions so tonight I’m dining with my “adult children”, a treat I have learned to appreciate! I had chosen my favorite restaurant Succulent Cafe. This was the first reservation I made almost two weeks ago, ensuring they wouldn’t book up. We started with a Caesar salad, served in a Parmesan edible cheese bowl – Caesar salad will never be the same! The main course was a Filet Mignon Steak with gorgonzola compound butter and a crab cake, served with chunky mashed potatoes. Dessert was a warm bread pudding drizzled with caramel sauce. No wine for me tonight but I enjoyed hearing Robert recommend a wide variety of local wines, including Stolpman Estate Syrah to the tables around us. This was my number 1 pick for the week! Delicious food, spectacular presentation, generous proportions, excellent service and the company of my kids, made this my favorite night of the week.
Day 6, Friday! Los Olivos Cafe & Wine Merchant
I gathered up my good friends as we often do on Fridays, and we headed to the Los Olivos Cafe. With 2 bottles of wine in hand, we are seated and learn the corkage on each bottle would be $20. Seeing as we were all in an economical mood, we opted to bring our wine home and we selected 2 reasonably priced Melville Wines, the Verna’s Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We started with a mixed greens salad with apple, Gorgonzola and a Meyer lemon vinaigrette. Between the 6 of us, we sample all three main entrée options, a Bavette Steak served with a twice baked potato cake, a Seared Trout with vegetable root puree and Butternut Squash Raviolis served in a sage cream sauce. The trout was the most unique dish of the evening and the pasta portions were generous for the heartier appetites. The steak was flavored well and served with a twice baked potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts. Dessert was a delicious flourless chocolate cake or vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce. All in all it was a good evening, and I would venture back here to check out their regular menu!
Day 7!!! Saturday – Ranch & Reata Roadhouse
Tonight we head to the newest restaurant in Santa Ynez – the Ranch & Reata Roadhouse for dinner and live music. There was a good crowd of familiar faces and the focus of the night was on the artist Michael on Fire who was playing with Bear Erickson on lead guitar, Tyson Leonard on electric fiddle. Dinner started with a Beet Salad which we paired with a Blair Fox Vermentino (so yummy!). I enjoyed the Filet Mignon Tacos with a Herman Story ‘On the Road’ Grenache (best wine choice of the week!) The tacos were quite good, just the right amount of spice and relatively light. We thoroughly enjoyed the music while we ate and as the music wrapped up, we enjoyed my favorite dessert of the week, a generous portion of Mudpie.
I’ve always said I could eat dinner out every night (if it weren’t for the cost and the extra pounds that come along with it) but after 7 nights, I’m rethinking that! I enjoyed my culinary adventure, visited old favorites and added some new to my repertoire, but this week I’m staying in, at least till Friday, eating light and healthy, and looking forward to it!