Midday Noshing: San Ysidro Ranch Offers New Lunch Experience

By Gabe Saglie   |   June 11, 2024
Gabe with his wife Renee enjoying lunch at the Veranda

The sun shone bright on a recent weekday afternoon, and a soft sea breeze rolled through. The handful of outdoor tables at the Veranda cottage at the San Ysidro Ranch, nicely spread out, were slowly filling up. Lunch was being doled out in synchronized fashion, and by a welcoming staff.

The Chicken Milanese is a home specialty by Chef Matt Johnson

The latest foodie offering at Montecito’s legendary resort leans beautifully not only into a new, glimmering outdoor venue, but also into the calendar. “The ambiance truly inspires our menu, which features items grown in our chef’s garden on the property,” says Andrew Caine, the food and beverage director at the Ranch. “We take pride in using fresh, seasonal ingredients harvested just steps away from the kitchen to create dishes that reflect the vibrant flavors of the season.”

Until now, the Veranda, set just across from the downstairs patio of The Stonehouse restaurant and steps from the newly imagined Plow & Angel speakeasy, was primarily a private event space. Also known, affectionately, as the Carriage House, it has long been favored as an intimate setting for exclusive gatherings.

Today, that intimacy – that same sense of seclusion and exclusivity – remains, as the Veranda has been reimagined as a destination lunch spot. Offered Monday through Thursday only (as a way to appeal mainly to locals, as well as to the discerning midweek traveler), lunch is served in a shady, charming outdoor setting, complete with stone fireplace and strung twinkle lights, and from a concise rotating menu. It’s prix-fixe, at $49 per person.

Mr. Caine distinguishes the new plein-air experience at the Veranda from the popular longstanding lunch offering at The Stonehouse, which has always been elevated and refined.

“They each have their own distinct ambiance and culinary offerings,” he says. “The Veranda embraces an approachable al fresco dining experience, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the beauty of our surroundings while enjoying fresh, vibrant dishes crafted with locally sourced ingredients. The Veranda distinguishes itself through its casual yet sophisticated approach to dining, making it the perfect destination for guests seeking a relaxed and memorable lunch experience.”

During the MJ’s own recent Veranda lunch, starters included a Chilled Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail, an Organic Mixed Green Salad and a bright and refreshing Tuscan Melon & Yellow Tomato Gazpacho.

The eye-catching San Ysidro Ranch Meyer Lemon Tart

Entrée options spotlighted several items grown on-property and nearby, and included a Blackened Ora King Salmon Salad, with Carpinteria avocados, candied pecans, heirloom cherry tomatoes and Laura Chenel goat cheese; and the SYR Organic Quinoa & Garden Kale Grain Bowl, with soft-poached egg and heirloom cauliflower. The Chicken Milanese featured an herb crusted Jidori chicken, wild rocket arugula, pickled red onion, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and grilled Meyer lemon. This has been “a standout dish on our menu, consistently garnering rare reviews from our guests,” adds Mr. Caine. “It’s no surprise, as Chef Matt [Johnson] personally prepares this dish on a regular basis at home, infusing it with a touch of homemade authenticity and passion.”

The two dessert selections included a trio of house-made sorbets and the delectable San Ysidro Ranch Meyer Lemon Tart, featuring citrus grown just up the hill, served with wildflower honey, lavender Chantilly and a blackberry compote.

The beverages to match represent ideal sippers for sunny, breezy afternoons, with a lovely mix of Santa Barbara and European wines, including several premium rosés. “Our San Ysidro Ranch label Rosé has been a standout performer, delighting guests with its complex flavor profile and refreshing character,” says Mr. Caine. It’s made by winemaker, and Montecito resident, Doug Margerum.

There are two carts, too, stocked with premium spirits and offering a handful of creative smoked sippers. Mr. Caine adds, “Our smoked cocktails have garnered significant praise, offering a unique drinking experience that further elevates the overall ambiance of the Veranda. Each cocktail is carefully crafted by our bar team, then infused with a mesmerizing smoky essence that adds depth and complexity to every sip.”  

Reservations are not required but are encouraged. Find out more at sanysidroranch.com/dining


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