Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne of A.O.C., Tavern, and Lucques are no strangers to Santa Barbara. Styne went to college there, as did her husband, and Goin's husband, David Lentz, runs a location of Hungry Cat in the city's Downtown. Just in from the duo's camp, Goin and Styne will be opening a new, yet-to-be-named restaurant in the city's upscale village of Montecito, home to stars like Oprah and Drew Barrymore. The restaurant is due for Coast Village Road in the shopping center that houses Von's, now apparently being called the "Montecito Country Mart" and owned by James Rosenfield of J.S. Rosenfield & Co., the same force behind Brentwood's Country Mart. So, what will be served?
Lucques and AOC vets, Javier Espinoza and Julie Grimm, will relocate to serve as chef de cuisine and G.M., respectively. The menu will be simple farm-to-table selections of seasonal produce and fish, meats, stews, burgers, and pizzettes cooked in a wood-burning oven, while Styne will oversee the wine list and assist with farmers market cocktails.
Tavern-designer Jeffery Alan Marks will handle the space, intent on bringing a "Montecito farmhouse" look to the place that might match what one sees at The San Ysidro Ranch. The restaurant is currently looking to an opening date in late spring 2013.
The restaurant will be entering Montecito at a time of big dining changes and increasing L.A. invasion in the area. Gene Montesano's steakhouse, Lucky's, enjoys massive success with strong cocktails and pricey steaks, to the point that Craig McCaw has been inspired to rejigger nearby pub, Peabody's, into a farm-to-table concept of his own. Restaurateur and designer Pierre LaFond is also giving his recently opened French bistro in Lower 'Cito a new look and concept that sounds similarly veined, while Italian staple Trattoria Mollie continues to thrive as a destination.
These chef-driven successes bode well for Goin and Styne, following earlier (failed) attempts by the likes of Michel Richard to make a dent in Santa Barbara with the first Citronelle in the eighties and the ongoing mission of Bacara resort to play to the types of Angelenos and Santa Barbarians looking for a well-groomed roost.
Unnamed Goin and Styne Project, 1014 Coast Village Rd. Santa Barbara.