The Club & Guest House is UCSB’s best-kept culinary secret. Located on the outskirts of campus, the fine-dining restaurant, which is open to the public, serves artfully prepared Californian cuisine. The food is rivaled only by the scenic view: Through the tall windows that wrap around the dining room, you can overlook rolling lawns and the glimmering lagoon while indulging your taste buds.
The Club & Guest House — which was once and is still often called the Faculty Club and which also serves as an overnight option for visiting professors or those with university business — offers a diverse, seasonal menu that strives to accommodate all dietary restrictions. “We have a diverse collection of lifestyles here on campus,” said Indras Govender, the food and beverage manager, “so we carry vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan items. We want to give people options. Since everything is made from scratch, we can customize items to fit preferences.”
The restaurant also promotes sustainability by buying from the region’s organic farms and forming relationships with their vendors. “We have a department specifically dedicated to researching vendors and finding out if they will fit with our mission to provide quality, sustainable food,” explained Govender.
During a recent visit, I tried a few of the most popular items. The seared-salmon salad was up first, featuring Scottish salmon from the Santa Barbara Fish Market, sliced thin and seared in a hot pan. Christopher Rossi, the kitchen manager, called this dish a “play on Asian salad,” as it blends spicy and sweet flavors. Lotus root is fried into thin golden chips, garnishing the salad and adding a tasty crunch.
Next was the slow-braised beef. Rossi uses flap meet, a cut good for braising, and marinates the meat for four hours in red wine and aromatics until juicy and saturated with flavor. This dish is decorated with roasted crimini mushrooms and fingerling potatoes and drizzled with a green aioli sauce.
Rossi’s favorite dish is the chorizo and clams. “They create a beautiful taste when they are combined, and the sauce we make develops a lot of dimensions and layers of flavor,” he said. “It is a beautiful product.”
Regardless of what you choose, the food and view are (almost) enough to make you wish that you were back living in those dorm rooms next door.