The Four Seasons Biltmore (1260 Channel Drive,  969-2261, fourseasons.com/santabarbara) certainly takes its name seriously in the Bella Vista dining room, as it’s offering hearty, warming fare for fall. Chef Alessandro Cartumini’s usual deft touches are evident in each dish, none more so than an expertly seared scallop appetizer that features some Meyer lemon for a not-too-puckery zip and a surprising earthy balance thanks to purple cauliflower and rye bread. Here are three other standout items:
Eggplant Ossobuco, Mushroom Bolognese, Green Farro, Goat Cheese: A clever visual pun and tasty enough to make you not miss the meat, this vegetarian primi offers a heart of palm “bone” and a caramelly roasted slab o’ eggplant as the veal. That’s circled by the richest mushroom Bolognese you might imagine. Who needs meat when the sauce can be this flavor-thick?
Braised Monkfish, Saffron Spiced Tomato, Black Olives, Fairy-Tail Eggplant: The “poor man’s lobster” ends up in this rich dish that seems to have swum a circle ‘round the Mediterranean to pick up all its flavors and ingredients. Practically a stew, still that monkfish is the star.
Liberty Farms Duck Breast, Roasted Grapes, Broccolini, Blis Maple: A classicist’s dish — duck with maple — but seldom is it prepared better: The skin crackly crisp, the meat succulent, and then the grapes make it clear you’re in wine country. Plus, they’re roasted, and that adds a spicy dimension no mere fresh fruit has.