When a Four Seasons property is delayed in opening or shut down due to natural disasters, the luxury hotel company sends its experienced staff to other properties. Called “Task Force,” this program occurred when our own Biltmore was shuttered following the Montecito mudslides — with 45 employees leaving Santa Barbara to share their insights elsewhere — and now it’s happening to our own benefit across the street at the Coral Casino.
That’s where chef Erik Anderson, who’s worked for such Michelin-starred restaurants as Coi and the French Laundry, is posted up at the Tydes Restaurant until November 16, serving a collaboration menu with Chef Michael Patria, himself a relatively new hire for the Biltmore. Anderson is the head chef at Truss Restaurant and Bar at Four Seasons Napa Valley, but that hotel’s opening is delayed until 2020, largely due to the lack of available laborers. Construction crews there are otherwise busy rebuilding the region’s residences lost to the devastating fires of 2017.
Last week, a gaggle of media was treated to tastes of the menu, which is currently only available to Biltmore hotel visitors and Coral Casino members (but also members’ guests, if you know anyone…). Prior to dinner, we were invited to take our own pictures of the dishes, enhanced by an on-site light box — and that Instagram-friendly technology is almost certain to be available to the general public at restaurants around the country soon enough, for better snaps and assuredly worse grumbling from the just-eat-the-damn-food crowd.
With pics bagged, then came the wines (Far Niente chardonnay, The Hilt pinot noir, Jonata syrah-based blend) and the dishes, many of which are pictured here. The entire menu was the highlight, but particularly revelatory tastes for me included the mackerel crudo with burnt onion, fermented pineapple, and fig leaf oil; the densely meaty white sturgeon poached in chicken fat with caviar, a delicious sort of parent-and-unborn-baby combo; and the fascinatingly piney matsutake mushroom consommé that came with the cote du boeuf, which the chefs sliced tableside.
Though this menu will only be served until November 16, it is a precursor of likely changes coming to the Bella Vista, the Biltmore’s flagship restaurant. Long home to an Italian-focused menu, don’t be surprised if there’s a shift toward more seafood and fresh fare in the months to come under Patria’s supervision.
The Biltmore’s general manager, Karen Earp, started off the dinner by announcing of Anderson, “His food is intoxicating.” Consider me wasted.