What do dancers at the Monte Carlo Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, and the Joffrey Ballet have in common? Besides the supernatural ability to walk on their toes, they got their start with The Ventura County Ballet Company. The school rigorously trains its students in Russian-style ballet, then shares the results with the community with full-scale, professional performances of classic works such as?The Nutcracker.
From their perch on a dining table, Blu Orkid’s eponymous flowers watch over the restaurant’s hustle and bustle, which begins as bakers knead fresh bread in the early morning and ends once dinner plates are rounded up after midnight. Breakfasts of frittatas and brioche french toast pique appetites for lunches and dinners of tuna-almondine sandwiches, pears poached in port and topped with bleu cheese, and salmon flavored with miso and meyer lemons. In the bakery, chefs torch sugar atop crème brûulée and serve chocolate lava cake. They dish out their gourmet treats at sunny patio tables or indoors amid palm fronds, blue mood lighting, and chandeliers that wish they could feel love.
A red carpet leads the way past a cluster of spotlights, and two large lacquered doors grant access to a low-lit room. Conversation buzzes, layered over the underlying thumping of music that emanates throughout the space. It's the quintessential modern nightclub, but Sunset Room is alive with old-school Hollywood glamour; it's decorated with crystal chandeliers and dark wood, aesthetic touches that are the very antithesis of stale chain restaurants or picnic tables set up in a cave. In the dining room, white tablecloths rest beneath the light of flickering candles, and small plates encourage sharing bites of flatbread and steak sliders. Reserved seating can make guests feel extra special, and live bands and DJs start dance parties on the dance floor. A team of mixologists also arrives on the scene to shake and stir a variety of craft cocktails and drinks at the towering bar.
The elegant mixture of cuisine, libations, and decor that constitutes Sunset Room is the brainchild of Chris Breed and James Ashford. Since 1990, Chris has been improving nightlife in Hollywood, first with the Roxbury Supper Club and now with Sunset. Chris teams up with James, who has a background as an LAPD officer and a real-estate man.
As the plus sign in its name suggests, Blush Restaurant + Lounge is an equation: it adds the indulgence of fine dining to the splendor of nightlife in Santa Barbara to create one lavish experience. Executive chef Brandon Worrell relies on seasonal Californian cuisine to craft his menu, which features small bites such as bacon and brie flatbread and lobster mac and cheese. The menu also boasts exquisite entrees, including roasted Chilean sea bass with saffron beurre blanc. Guests can enjoy inventive signature cocktails beside a fire on the patio, or they can relax inside, where dozens of lights strung from the ceiling create a mesmerizing starry effect.
Start a romantic evening with a Dungeness crab cake with aioli, caper, lemon, and coleslaw ($15) and a bowl of the soup of the day ($10). Eye entrees like the soft and succulent roasted half chicken with fingerling potatoes, haricots verts, mixed wild mushrooms, and pearl onions ($24) and the braised short ribs with polenta, Swiss chard, and salsa verde ($25). Complete the circle of life by burying your fork in a slice of key lime pie with guava puree and mango sorbet ($10) or the chocolate chocolate chocolate trio ($16), whose richness is so deadly it was, until recently, banned by nonproliferation treaties. If you've recently cycled through Fraiche and think you've tasted it all, try the new lunch menu. The chopped salad with Italian cured meats, tomato, provolone, and chick peas ($13) and the Moroccan lamb sausage sandwich with harissa aioli ($13) offer just the right noontime spice-kick to erase your morning malaise.