Ever since Ohana Real Estate purchased the Bacara Resort in September 2011, the once-exclusive property has steadily opened its doors to “regular” Santa Barbarans, starting with a lavish open house last October. Now, the Bacara is using its two restaurants to lure locals in: Miro recently kicked off an all-you-can-even-dream-of-eating Sunday brunch, while The Bistro introduced a new chef de cuisine, Johan Denizot.
That brunch isn’t cheap at $70 per, but it also can be your meal for the day, and the mimosas and oceanside view come with the price of admission. The tricky part is pacing yourself. To their credit, they don’t offer you tons of pastas and rice dishes to force early carb out, although the table full of baked goods, such as scones you may lavish with Devonshire cream, would make any mere continental breakfast run away in shame. There’s a station of prime rib and salmon en croute, with a man eager to slice for you, and an omelette zone, but Miro even has a salad bar, where you can pick amid the most lovely laid out veggies you’ll ever see (from Fairview Gardens) and then have a chef toss it for you.
Combining attractive presentation and portioning, potatoes au gratin don’t sit in a slab in a chafing dish but are perfect diamond-sized blocks of goodness. The chilled seafood offers single mouth servings of oysters or shrimp. And on the dessert table, which they make you see first to inspire the leaving of some stomach space, pots de crème are in mini-ramekins and super-rich cake comes in lollipops, a delight of a bite or two on a stick.
Though still not quite as grand as Miro, The Bistro has been “upgraded,” said the new Chef Denizot. “It’s based on what’s local and in season.” Originally from Pontarlier, France — famous as the center of absinthe production back in the day — Denizot politely refused to name any signature dishes, insisting, “We change the menu four times a year. In two weeks, we’ll have our new summer menu that will no doubt feature more tomatoes, peppers, squashes, and more fish.”
In the U.S. for 15 years, Denizot has worked at Restaurant Nu, Root 246, and The Alisal Ranch, so he’s no stranger to local palates. He’s happy the Bacara’s now owners want to open the poperty up to more than overnight guests, explaining, “That way, we have to cater to the neighbors.”
See the sea and eat fine food at the Bacara Resort & Spa (8301 Hollister Ave.,  968-0100, bacararesort.com. The Bistro is open 7:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. daily. Miro’s Sunday brunch is 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.