Rodney’s Grill is one of Santa Barbara’s hidden gems, tucked away in a corner of the Fess Parker DoubleTree Resort on East Cabrillo Boulevard. Despite its quality ingredients and world-class chefs (hand-picked by Hilton, which owns the hotel), Santa Barbara residents are too quick to write off the restaurant as only for the overnight guests.
And vegetarians are hasty to make a second mistake when they dismiss this steakhouse as for meat eaters only. Executive Chef Kirk DeLong, Sous Chef Luis Del Mercado, and General Manager Matthew La Vine insist that Rodney’s Grill does not shy away from vegetarian cuisine. “I used to be vegetarian when I was in culinary school,” said DeLong. “I did it for the true benefit of just [diversifying] my career.”
The move paid off. Here are just three deliciously flavored and expertly crafted vegetarian dishes now on the menu at Rodney’s Grill.
Vegetable Strudel: Roasted butternut squash, asparagus, kidney beans, spinach, and peppers are wrapped in an olive-oiled pastry and set in a sauce of tomato juice, butter, and Dijon mustard, with broccolini and risotto on the side. The flavors are complex, with the risotto colored by a splash of carrot juice, adding a touch of sweetness to this savory dish. The seasonal vegetables, light for summer, balance out the heavy pastry.
Israeli Couscous: Saffron, cherry tomatoes, chives, garlic, mushrooms, and lemon lend flavor to this vibrant dish. This citrus version of a traditional North African staple is one way to lighten a midsummer meal.
Red Quinoa and French Lentils: This vegan dish combines purple fingerling potatoes, butternut squash, parsnips, Swiss chard, and tomato broth with red quinoa and French lentils, adding up to a meal high in protein and even higher in flavor. A touch of aromatic orange peels makes this dish delight more than just the taste buds.
With the restaurant’s experienced chefs and abundant resources, vegetarians are sure to be in good hands. “A lot of people associate vegetarians with people who don’t appreciate food,” DeLong said. “It’s quite the opposite actually. Most vegetarians really care about what they’re putting in their bodies.”