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Jun 23, 2009 05:06 PM

Anyone tried Root 246 in Solvang?

Heading to the Santa Ynez Valley this weekend. I normally eat at American Flatbread one night and the Ballard Inn another, but am intrigued by this new place (at the Hotel Corque, which used to be the Royal Scandinavian). Thanks in advance.

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  1. Go try it. We were there last April the first week it was open because we were visiting the area. They were smoothing out a few minor issues, but I thought it was delightful the 2 nights we dined there. Some memorable dishes we tried were the Kushi oysters, a squid and sweet prawn frito misto, the mini-blue corn muffins, a fabulous maytag blue cheese souffle, black cod from Morro Bay and my favorite, their version of a caesar salad that came with a golden yellow poached egg. I like that they use produce that is local and sustainable and meat and seafood that is also regional. Service was attentive and helpful and I thought the pricing was not too steep considering how flavorful and wonderfully presented our dishes were. There are 2 very different bars (one is blue and moody and the other is yellow and mellow) and my vodka martini was splendid with it's blue cheese stuffed olives ;)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sampaguita

      It is getting pretty solid reviews here locally. I think it is worth a detour. I wouldn't miss Ballard Inn for anything- so plan accordingly.

      It is going to be a beautiful weekend weatherwise!

    2. GO! We just came back from our trip up there to SB area. We had no idea about this place until folks up there told us to go. Fantastic. Outside it looks like grandma's hotel. Inside like a 5 million dollar redecorating bomb went off. Beautiful. Food, wines and cocktails, all terrific. GREAT wines by glass and bottle, all local, of course. Can't wait to go back. (For dessert, try the banana split 'deconstructed'. Recommended by friend at Clos Pepe who's sommelier'ing tomorrow night.)

      1. This is odd, the name of the restaurant.
        Route 246 is a major highway that heads west from Tokyo.
        Apparently, there is no connection to Japan, but the name is puzzling anyway.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Tripeler

          Uuuuhhhh. The main road taking one Santa Ynez to Buellton, is route 246.

          I personally think the name is lame as green eggs and ham...but the restaurant is doing great business, and Bradley Ogden has moved here and I see him everywhere- our local Albertsons- wine tasting- you name it. So he is the real deal here. His top 2 chefs are both named Jonny and both are great guys!

          1. re: JalamaMama

            Agree, the name brings up images of turnips and rutabagas. Not what would make me want to give it a try but intrigued by all the good reports. This is a Chumash casino operation, is it not? They have money to burn off from peoples voluntary wealth transfer from themselves for a few monents in a joyless, electronic gaming scheme which always benefits the house. At least the Chumash are plowing this massive new wealth back into the community to make it even more enticing to create even more voluntary wealth transfers to themselves. Who says we have a financial problem in this state when so many still choose to transfer their assets for so little in return?

            Some local review, highly enthusiastic, for Root 246:

            1. re: glbtrtr

              Yes- it is 100% Chumash. Not sure everyone agrees it is good business...but I see no problem- they improved the hotel, improved the services and seem to be a doing a good amount of business at the Hotel Corque- anothe horrible choice of word play- but it thier business to name.

              Looking forward to your review Megan!

              1. re: JalamaMama

                ...just glad it's out of the hands of KingVentures, and into the care of people who actually create something of their properties, and know how business should be done.

        2. any more reviews/updates on this place? Heading up to wine country in a few weeks...


          5 Replies
          1. re: MrKrispy

            if you click on the link provided by glbtrtr above there are a couple of recent reviews.

            1. re: MrKrispy

              We had one of those memorable meals - the kind you remember forever. Celebrating our 20th anniversary by driving up to the Santa Ynez wine country, we went to Root 246 for our Friday night dinner. First of all, this is a great looking place. NOT a traditional Solvang restaurant...there is a private room that we are already trying to figure out how to book with a group. Our server, Dana, was not only darling, but knew the menu well, helped with our choices and made the whole night a great success. We shared the Maytag Bleu cheese souffle for a starter - it was tremendous. My husband had the Pork chop with sausages in a bacon vinaigrette, and I ordered the Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes and Fuji apple shreds. Really fantastic. Dessert was lovely butterscotch pudding, and one of the best cappuccinos I've ever had at a restaurant. Wow, wow, wow... GO!

              Root 246
              420 Alisal Road, Solvang, CA 93463

              1. re: maryhbrock

                Will be trying their prix fixe New Years Eve dinner in a few more days -- getting mixed local reviews so it was great to get your excellent one. Complaints it is getting too casino trashy and too LA, but for food being "too LA" is a good thing.

                So should I choose the "Santa Barbara prawns or the "butter langoustine" for the appetizer course - no other choice further down the menu for that night.

                One local complaint is they "run out" of items on their prix fixe menu, even when it is early in the evening. Anyone else hear this?

                1. re: glbtrtr

                  glbtrtr: not being familiar with the casino or LA dining, what is 'too casino trashy' and 'too LA' Can you describe? does that refer to food and or atmosphere? curious,,,

                  1. re: toodie jane

                    Because Root 246 is associated with Hotel Corque and the Chumash casino one does see a lot of "smart casual" dress suggestions that include "good jeans" and "good" tee-shirts. The Root 246 itself setting is very stylish with no expense spared which is something one rarely sees in Solvang or even SB. But my overall impression is style outweighed substance. It may not be fair to review a New Years prix fixe menu with three fixed seatings as a proper survey of this restaurant during normal operations but over all impression was once was enough. More than enough. Nor do I find myself enamoured with corporate celebrity chefs who do not oversee actual food production and leave only menus that can suffer from indifferent local production of final product.

                    Because this was a fixed dinner seating we did not send back inferior items but it started right out with the very first two items (while artuflly presented) tasted seriously of being left in a refrigerator too long, and one of them was the table water! The other was a novel foie gras production that looked like a chocolate bon bon covering an interior filling of huckle berry jam - the foie gras outer coating was overly-harded and cold which absorbed the very faint but distinct refrigerator taste and only barely a hint of the underlying goose liver. Not successful, but it was only the amuse bouche. And we moved on to a fair bottle of their lower priced but too potently flavored Spanish Cristallino sparkling white wine and ignored the table water that was very flat tasting, also screaming of being left in an odorous refrigerator too long.

                    The overall feeling for the amuse buche was too many were prepared, too early and left too long in the refrigerator. And the delicate foie gras lost in the competition with the refrigerator overtones. Perhaps had they been brought up to room temperature, the foie gras would have had a better fighting chance. And the huckleberry jam filling was a good flavor counter-point. Creative flavor combination, just poor execution.

                    Next was an indifferent shrimp lentil combo where the whole was not more than the sum of its parts. What was called an "osso bucco" had nothing to do with the original and while high on the sensory ratings of salty, creamy, crunchy with a way too small tart counterpoint of the mere hint of a gremolata, it was not really food of any discernible nature or taste but merely a mouth appeal creation. Its richness left little appetite remaining for the main course so we found it an odd second course over all, but it was tasty in its overly salty, creamy and crunchy (fried lardoons) sort of way - the sort of dish one might rave about for its flavor effect but realize there was no discernible food flavor in fact but merely the sensation of food flavor. (See salty, creamy, crunchy above)

                    That left the main course which was triple-seared sirloin and an overly rich "tower" of thinnly layered potato and carrots with probably a heavy cream based binder. The triple searing was from miso, soy and uni exterior smearings and again of no discernable flavor addition but was a nice piece of tender meat seared nicely while retaining a very pleasant interior pinkness. However after the first few and very rich high fat content prior courses there was little appetite to finish this.

                    Dessert was anticipated because it was described as a papaya souffle (or something) so its fruity lightness would have been welcomed at this point, but again it came out as some sort of overly rich frozen thing with only a hint of a papaya syrup along with some rich cookies and other side bits of again overly-rich dessert items.

                    So the whole effect of this New Years prix fixe ($200 total) was (for us) high fat ,overkill menu with less attention than appropriate to its actual production and not a fine balanced dining experience. And yeah, we did end up eating most of it and while it was certainly not culinary torture it was not a good representation of what perhaps this restaurant was all about or what it was originally intended to be.

                    I'll keep Julienne on the top of my SB fine dining list and always remain 100% fond of Downey's with hats off to buchon and Olio et Limone as crowd-pleasing favorites in our local high-end SB dining family - nicely all local owned, foodies on staff and in house chef supervised. I need still try Ballard Inn in Santa Ynez Valley and expect a little more culinary sensibilities as pan-Asian there than what we found at the corporate "chain" Root 246.

                    Root 246
                    420 Alisal Road, Solvang, CA 93463