Saturday, February 24, 2018     Volume: 18, Issue: 51

Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Vintners Bar and Grill is perfect for lovers or anyone who enjoys upscale casual dining


One of the best ways to experience the talents of local chefs is to try out their prix fixe menu. A prix fixe menu comes with a set list of menu options at a fixed price and is generally meant to showcase the diversity of a chef as well as highlight the overall vision of a restaurant.

Vintners Bar and Grill located at the Radisson Hotel in Santa Maria offers special holiday menus, such as the one for Valentine’s Day. The menu featured a carrot soup topped with a cilantro cream as a starter.

Locally, many venues use prix fixe menus for holiday events. For New Year’s Eve, we dined at the Far Western Tavern, which also offered a set menu for about $75 per person. These menus are a great way to explore what a venue is all about, cuisine-wise, and treat yourself to a special-occasion meal at a fair price.

This year for Valentine’s Day (which is, by the way, my absolute favorite holiday), we decided to try out the prix fixe menu at Vintners Grill. I absolutely love Vintners for a lot of reasons. The food is creative yet still comforting and familiar, and the setting is one of the most picturesque in all of Santa Maria. Dining while watching the planes stretched out along the airfield is a treat that lends itself to romanticism.

For $50 a person, the prix fixe menu was also a real bargain. Portions were big—so big, in fact, we didn’t even have room for the dessert course, a choice of blueberry tart or chocolate cake. (Oh well, maybe next time.)

Vintners Grill also lives up to its name as a spot for fine wines. We went with the Au Bon Climat pinot noir, made and bottled in Santa Maria. With notes of raspberries and strawberries, it was a good accompaniment to some of the lighter dishes and held up well against the heavier meat course.

Good things often come in small bites, as was the case with the shrimp crostini, part of the Valentine’s Day menu at Vintners Bar Grill.

The dinner started out with a choice of salad or soup. The carrot soup with coriander was topped with a cilantro cream. This was one of the highlights of the evening for me, but I always lean toward soup as my favorites.

Another interesting standout was the shrimp crostini. I was simultaneously perplexed and delighted by this dish. It featured four good-sized crostini with a creamy wasabi sauce and a large shrimp on each one, as well as a generous portion of pickled ginger. It was a really delicious bite, despite being a little hard to eat. (The tails looked gorgeous for presentation, but I might have left them off and made the dish easier to consume.) The wasabi cream sauce was very delicious and delicate, with a definite pop of familiar Japanese flavors. The pickled ginger finished the dish off especially nicely, and I almost wanted more of the dish as a whole.

For our main course, I struggled between chicken cordon bleu and New York strip steak and finally went with the steak. My fiancé chose the prime rib (which was executed very well), and he especially enjoyed the garlic potatoes. My steak was expertly grilled and perfectly seasoned, but the star of the dish was definitely the potato soufflé. Soufflé is the trickiest, weirdest, simplest, and most beautiful dish when executed properly. I really thought the Vintners’ soufflé was perfect—the silkiness and fluffiness of the egg was just right and compliment the delicate layers of potato.

Prime rib and New York strip were among the standouts of Vintners Bar and Grill for their Valentine’s Dinner, but fans of steak also can look to the venue’s regular dinner menu, which features prime rib, top sirloin, filet mignon, and more.

I’ll spare you all the boring hand-holding, eye-gazing, sweet-taking details that accompanied the meal, but suffice it to say, Vintners did a great job with both food and ambiance for the holiday meal. Their prix fixe menu not only gave us a solid meal for the night, but piqued our curiosity as to what else the venue might have in store for future special occasions.

Pick your fancy

Vintners Bar and Grill is located in the Radisson Hotel, 3455 Skyway Dr., Santa Maria, More info: (805) 928-8000.

Arts and Lifestyle Writer Rebecca Rose is sweet on you. Contact her at




Vegetable curry in acorn squash, topped with cashew crème from Plenty on Bell

• Vegans, take heart. Someone out there really loves you, and that someone is the chef at Plenty on Bell. One of their previous specials was a vegetable curry in acorn squash, topped with cashew crème (pictured). While the special may not be featured every week, they certainly do seem to care about their vegan clientele at 508 Bell St., Los Alamos.

Refugio Ranch has some new treats for their fans, including the 2017 malvasia bianca and 2017 rosé of syrah. The winemaker describes both wines as the kind that “scream bright, clean, and fresh.” The tasting room is located at 2990 Grand Ave., Los Olivos.

Weekly Poll
Where do you like to take in the arts?

Santa Ynez Valley galleries.
Lompoc is great for murals and exhibits.
Allan Hancock College and PCPA do great work.
My doctor's office.

| Poll Results