Dinner with friends at the Four Seasons and Coral Casino Santa Barbara
If you’ve thought about traveling to Santa Barbara, you’ve probably heard it’s a quaint town, filled with old Spanish history, a charming vibe, and spectacular year-round weather. You’ve probably heard you can find everything from posh luxury, to rugged outdoor activities, and everything in between. You are correct.
The Four Seasons Hotel in Santa Barbara at the top tier of luxury that Santa Barbara has to offer. The coastline of Santa Barbara is set juxtaposed between mountains, and pristine coastline just 90 miles from the busy cityscapes of Los Angeles. The luxurious hotel is home to a very proud and well preserved Spanish heritage, evident in its roots. Founded in 1927, the Four Seasons hotel has maintained its charm, withstood two economic depressions, and has hosted some of the most prominent celebrities, and aristocrats. The members and guests that you’ll find dining and stay here have a tremendous air of class, but frown at the need to feel flashy, or draw too much attention.
The Coral Casino
We were fortunate to enjoy a romantic evening with dinner and drinks among the members of the Coral Casino Spa and Club. The Coral Casino is a unique establishment where people who truly appreciate the most exquisite taste in coastal living. The Coral Casino is built directly on the beach where we found an Olympic swimming pool and spa that joins the beach, overlooking a seawall protected from the elements by a glass.
We arrived half an hour before sunset and received the warmest greeting from the resort manager. He showed us around the property, and we joined him for cocktails on the exclusive upper deck of The Coral Casino. The Four Seasons and Coral Casino represent a preserved piece of real estate and standard of service that are becoming all too rare. Staying at the Four Seasons and having the opportunity to dine at the Coral Casino allows you to experience coastal living and luxury dining unobstructed by invasive and overwhelming city life. We’ve traveled to many resorts ranging in degrees of luxury. However, you’ll be hard pressed to find amenities that rival the Four Seasons and Coral Casino. Do yourself a favor and stay at least a night at the Four Seasons, if for no other reason than to partake in exclusive access to the Coral Casino experience.
The Four Seasons Hotel Santa Barbara takes pride in its congruency with Spanish architecture and ambiance. The Hotel is unpretentious, yet extremely sophisticated, revealing small town luxury charm, with service that would be expected in the most elite cities in the world. Spanish tile rooftops, white walls, rounded arches, local flora, and historic trees enhanced the hotel’s mediterranean vibe. Just outside the hotel, you’ll find a charming boardwalk where we took some iconic sunset pictures, overlooking a distant rocky point, sandy beach, and palm tree horizon. It seems like everyone gathers here to gaze at the sunset, and share gratitude and awe to be in such an inspiring place, we certainly did.
During cocktail hour, we were taken upstairs at the Coral Casino to a one of its kind, aquarium bar. The bar is encased in a clear acrylic housing and hosts tropical fish, crustaceans, and live coral reefs to enjoy while sipping craft cocktails, and local wines. The cocktails were truly refreshing on a hot California day, and crafted to perfection we tried a few just to be sure they weren’t poisonous, and we shared them all! I’ll share with you our two favorites, so salvation is at a minimum.
Our favorite was the “Coral Cucumber,” a nice drink to level the senses of the palate. The mint, pomegranate and cucumber soda proved to be a perfect match for the quality Grey Goose vodka.
At the other end of the spectrum, we enjoyed the “Spicy Mango Margarita.” For those adventurous to add a spicy kick to their drink, this one does the trick. Although I was pleasantly surprised that the level of spice was quite medium, just a nice touch of habanero infused Sauza tequila with mango, blood orange, and lemon. The perfect balance of sweet and spicy.
After the tease of the delicious cocktails, our appetites were on supercharger, we didn’t hold back and ordered plenty of appetizers and entrees.
One of our favorite appetizers was the Grilled Octopus with Pineapple, Piquillo Pepper Puree, Lime Aioli, and Grapefruit. This was a delicate and tender dish. The octopus had an inviting texture, cooked perfectly and seasoned brilliantly.
Another one of our favorite appetizers was the Beef Tartare with Quail Egg, Pickled Mustard Seeds, and Horseradish Cream. Ordering tartare can be hit or miss, sometimes the meat can be disenchanting, and other times it’s right on point. As expected the Tartare delivered texture, flavor, and freshness you would expect from an elite restaurant. We were left salivating for the second fare.
An appetizer we couldn’t pass up that reminded us of home, was the Beet Salad with Salmon, Pickled Beet, Goat Cheese, Horseradish and Puffed Quinoa. This dish was beautifully presented with bold colors, and the flavor profile was balanced and neutral. A springtime dish everyone should try.
This section of the meal is when we were most impressed. We shared everything family style because everything sounded so good. A classic example of where your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Here are the highlights…
The Aromatic Scallops with Roasted Maitake Mushroom and Shaved Almond came highly recommended, and properly so. This dish truly lives up to its expectations of aroma, texture, and visual appeal. The scallops were creatively served over hot stones that seared them in front of your eyes. They weren’t over or undercooked at all and were so fresh, you could still smell the salt air, without any “fishiness.” The Maitake mushrooms were freshly picked and added a layer of complexity to the dish we were most impressed with. This dish will excite your palate and leave room for more.
I selected the Lobster Tagliatelle with Forest Mushrooms and Parmesan because one can never go wrong with pasta or lobster dish. Pasta was cooked Al dente, and main lobster didn’t disappoint. This was a hearty dish that left you satisfied albeit desiring more.
The Beef Filet and Short Rib with Smoked Potato Puree, Grilled Romaine Heart, Pickled Red Onion and Bordelaise Sauce were classically remarkable. The meat from the beef filet melted in our mouths. The potato puree was helpful in soaking up the sauces and savory flavors from the short rib. Also a hearty dish, the serving size was appropriate, and we’d highly recommend it.
To finish things off right, we had to enjoy a dessert and tea.
The Warm Chocolate Almond Cake with Caramelized White Chocolate Coulis and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream was the true juxtaposition of warm and cold, soft and rich. This dish is one of those that is truly comforting. Even though our appetites were already satiated, the rich and warm interior of the chocolate almond cake, combined with spoonfuls of ice cream was simply bliss.
All in all, The Tydes Restaurant and Aquarium bar were so impressionable and unique we had to write this in depth review on both to do them justice. By patronizing this establishment, you can be guaranteed a caliber of service and quality of dining that you simply can’t compare. The location in which this place is set, also makes it one of a unique heritage landmarks on the central coast. In short, if you’re banking on an experience you won’t forget, this one will leave you light on your feet, a smile on your face, and memories you’ll remember for the rest of your days.
Note: This amazing food story experience was made possible in partnership with Four Seasons and Coral Casino Santa Barbara and Visit Santa Barbara, although all thoughts, ideas, and opinions are entirely my own.
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