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Solvang highlights

The fetching Mrs Grub & the ol’ Grubber himself just returned from a lovely getaway in Solvang (Yep, you read right, Solvang.) After years of periodic visits to the vineyards & serenity, we this time discovered that you can actually find Chow-worthy restos beyond the requisite wood-grilled beef-gorging at the Hitching Post II.

The Mirabelle Restaurant would be outstanding anywhere. In Solvang, it is soaring. Chef Norbert Schulz painstakingly presents delicious but not overwrought French dishes, some w German notes. Menu changes regularly depending on best ingredients available. NB: open Th – Sat only. Lovely room, blessed quiet, & attentive, non-intrusive service. Not to be missed. & if you stay there, you get an amazing included full breakfast.

Outstanding choice #3 is Bradley Ogden’s Root 246. Big, modern, yet friendly & laid back, the food is consistently & carefully prepared, with nothing but the freshest of ingredients. Inexpensive for Vegas, but dear for Solvang, Root 246 will not disappoint. BO’s signature bleu cheese soufflé, for instance, is the stuff of dreams. BO lives nearby in Buellton & when he is in the kitchen, he welcomes a cook’s table.

All three of the above offer splendid wine lists, featuring, of course, local wines. HP’s own label is damn good & Mirabelle & Root 246’s lists reveal great care in their selections.

Passing note or 2: DON’T be drawn into the Brothers Restaurant at Mattei’s Tavern unless is simply for an off-hours drink in the rustic setting. The food is solidly average & overpriced & the service is absolutely atrocious. DO stop for breakfast at Paula’s. When in Solvang a fix of Scandinavian pancakes or abelskivver is mandatory & Paula’s does it best.

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Hitching Post II Restaurant
406 East Highway 246, Buellton, CA

Root 246
420 Alisal Road, Solvang, CA 93463

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  1. Did not know Mirabelle was where Norbert ended up as he was one of the early chef's in Santa Barbara to start taking this former meat and potatoes town to more creative culinary heights. I will be very happy to add him back to our list of restaurants to explore in this area, along with our own favorite Grappalo in Santa Ynez. I still have to get to the Ballard Inn.

    While we had a far less than stellar experience with the Root 246 New Year's Eve three sitting, set menu (reviewed here on another thread), one could tell they probably did better under less trying circumstances. Doubt if we weil go back and now you have given us reason enough why -- Norbert Schultz's Mirabelle and Ballard Inn.

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    The Ballard Inn & Restaurant
    2436 Baseline Ave, Solvang, CA 93463

    Root 246
    420 Alisal Road, Solvang, CA 93463

    1. Norbert/Mirabelle catered a beautiful dinner party last summer, to benefit our local Humane Society in the Santa Ynez Valley. The food was outstanding- even my meat eatting husband was able to admit it! I have made a promise to myself to enjoy Mirabelle, before this spring passes!
      On the horizon, Cecco is due by Valentines Day. In the old Mandarin Touch location ( on First street- adjoining Panino), it will be lunch and dinner- with former Wine Cask Chef David Cecchini in charge. The place looks amazing inside! Dinner menu includes a lot of pasta and pizza, with quite a wine bar list!

      9 Replies
      1. re: OldJalamaMama

        in which SY Valley town, jm?

        and Grappalo-was/is Chef Rick involved in that restaurant?

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        Chef Rick's
        4869 S Bradley Rd, Santa Maria, CA 93455

        1. re: toodie jane

          Cecco will be opening in Solvang! The old Mandarin Touch was a cool place with a large outdoor patio great for people watching etc..it adjoines Paninos patio and the whole courtyard is quaint and also holds a pampering spa and a surry bike rental, plus a ice cream shop...the "munchies" shop is now gone and Cecco folks are running the ice cream shop that now includes gelato and the adjoing shop (now empty) will be their private dining room and wine storage. The pizza oven for Cecco was brought in thru the window! The reworking of the place has been fun to watch and the interior is beautiful!

          Grappolo is still going strong in Santa Ynez. Chef Ricks has nothing to do with either Grappolo or Cecco- though he would be GREAT in the old Patricks location in Los Olivos- that needs to be re-opened soon by a operator with a finger on both the pulse of the Valley and the tourist crowd= GOOD LUCK!

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          Grappolo
          3687 Sagunto St, Santa Ynez, CA 93460

          1. re: OldJalamaMama

            I remember him being in SY about 6-7 years ago...don't remember the name...near the Feed store and Sage?

            1. re: toodie jane

              he was at the Feed and Mill location- which is where Dos Carlitos is now...they just celelbrated their 2nd anniversary- every time I drive by they are gangbuster busy!

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              Carlito's
              15 W Curtis St, Salinas, CA 93906

              1. re: OldJalamaMama

                Checchini was also at the Harbor Restaurant on Sterns Wharf after the Wine Cask closed and brought it up several notches. It would be a shame to learn it might have fallen back into mediocracy after his departure since the Harbor is such a great tourist recommendation to get views and a meal and a reminder for us locals to also take some time to value our own scenic grandeur from time to time as well.

                1. re: glbtrtr

                  Did Patrick's close?

                  1. re: perk

                    Yes, Patricks Side Street Cafe closed several weeks ago...he is still around- haunting the town with his beautiful dog. He is usually hanging at Byron tasting room or Carina Cellars tasting room.

                    1. re: OldJalamaMama

                      JM--http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/771254 (b'fast 3/17 @ Neon Carrot

                      )

                      Could you make it? Melanie is a wine industry person and slo food enthusiast.

                      and any other CC hound, for that matter, though it's a trip!

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                      Neon Carrot
                      3536 S Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

                      1. re: toodie jane

                        I would love to, though I have to be at work at 9:30am that day. Thanks for always reaching out!