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Top Chef’s Phillip Frankland Lee Lets Go of His Santa Barbara Empire

Only Sushi Bar remains up at the Montecito Inn

Chef Phillip Frankland Lee stands over a dish at the Silver Bough fine dining restaurant.
Chef Phillip Frankland Lee
Joe Schmelzer
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Former Top Chef contestant Phillip Frankland Lee is stepping away (mostly) from his Santa Barbara restaurant dreams, pulling out from all but one space at the Montecito Inn. After a protracted build-out and plans for an ultra-luxury tasting menu restaurant eager for a Michelin star, Lee is now heading back to Encino to regroup.

The new plan for Lee’s Scratch Bar restaurant group, reps tell Eater, is to center around his busy 17-course omakase Sushi Bar concept, expanding it up and down the California coast. There are no firm plans for new addresses just yet, but they are targeting “Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Francisco.” An existing Sushi Bar will remain on property at the Montecito Inn in Santa Barbara County, to be run by on-site chef Lennon Lee.

Meanwhile, both the Monarch and Silver Bough have been sold off up at the Montecito Inn. The latter was formed as a $500 per-person tasting menu that pulled luxury ingredients from the vast Central Coast, with hopes to pull in three Michelin stars and make Santa Barbara a culinary destination all its own. Ultimately the restaurant lasted well under a year, having first closed “temporarily” back in September. Lee and co-owner and wife Margarita Kallas-Lee still have their Encino restaurant empire, including the busy Sushi Bar and Scratch Bar.