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California’s Most Ambitious New Restaurant Opens in Santa Barbara Next Month

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The Silver Bough is an eight-seat, $550 vision from Phillip Frankland Lee

Silver Bough
The Silver Bough
Joe Schmelzer

Despite all the well-earned praise being heaped on Los Angeles and San Francisco right now for their respective dining scenes, the most ambitious restaurant opening in the entire state of California in 2019 could well be happening near Santa Barbara. It’s called the Silver Bough, and it opens in January with just eight seats and a $550 price tag.

The Silver Bough comes to the Montecito Inn on January 31, 2019, just south of Santa Barbara proper, thanks to chef Phillip Frankland Lee and his wife Margarita Kallas-Lee from Los Angeles. The restaurant is basically a 400 square foot dining room-within-a-dining room, with chairs for less than ten diners per night. Tickets are sold individually for $550 for the single seating inside the marble-lined enclave, with the entire meal starting at 6:30 p.m. inside the hotel and winding through bar carts and decadent courses and ingredients like whipped caviar, real Japanese Kobe beef, foie gras, 24 karat gold flakes, and truffles.

Chef Lee hails from the Scratch Restaurant Group that he runs with wife Margarita Kallas-Lee. The Lees have a trio of projects (Woodley Proper, Scratch Bar, Sushi Bar) inside a single location in Encino, California. They also operate the food and beverage programs for the Montecito Inn in well-heeled but sleepy Montecito, just south of Santa Barbara on the Central Coast. Phillip Frankland Lee is perhaps most famous for his run on Top Chef, where he managed to rub some contestants the wrong way while arguing that the judging was less than fair.

Chef Phillip Frankland Lee stands over a dish at the Silver Bough fine dining restaurant.
Phillip Frankland Lee at the Silver Bough
Joe Schmelzer

Now Lee is looking to shoot for the stars, quite literally. He tells Food & Wine:

The Silver Bough is designed to be a three-star restaurant. That’s what we want. If we get one star, I will probably burst into tears. But three is what we’re shooting for.

It’s an ambitious plan by any measure, on par with Napa Valley’s The Restaurant at Meadowood, which is similarly disconnected from a nearby urban city center. But Lee does have the bounty of the sprawling Central Coast at his fingertips, so it will be interesting to see if he can manifest his dreams from the region’s realities. Either way, expect a lot of eyes on Montecito once Lee gets the Silver Bough up and running next month. The first seating starts on January 31, and the $550 tickets are inclusive of tax, tip, and beverage pairings.

The Silver Bough. 1295 Coast Village Rd., Santa Barbara, CA.

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