Fresh Flavors

Posted online: May 2018

Plant-based eats 

Photographs by Michael Haber

The distinction is important at Oliver’s: “Our menu is plant based rather than vegan,” says Phillip Thompson, assistant general manager and cultural ambassador. “‘Vegan’ refers to a whole lifestyle, and we don’t want to infringe on that. We’re about getting as close to ingredients as possible with the least amount of processing.”

That plant slant—a total focus on vegetarian ingredients, which sets it apart from most other Santa Barbara restaurants—was part of the Oliver’s buzz well before it opened in September. That, and its visibility—the corner spot in Montecito that long housed Peabody’s before its closure in 2012. Today, Oliver’s is wowing guests with dishes that, despite the absence of animal proteins, are made with extra attention to flavor and texture and driven by what’s regional and seasonal. “We wanted to bring this healthful but incredibly delicious cuisine to a group of people who may not be familiar with it,” adds Thompson. To that end, the menu—a creative lineup by chef Craig Riker—delivers recognizable dishes with a green spin. The wild mushroom tostada comes with jalapeño guacamole. The pad thai is made with kelp noodles and has a pistachio crunch. The avocado toast comes on turmeric oat bread. And yes, there’s a veggie burger.

Chef Riker and his team are farmers market regulars and contract with a string of local growers. Juice Ranch provides fresh-squeezed cold-pressed organic juices daily that are combined with premium spirits for the signature cocktails, and seating, indoors or out, is cushioned by ample spacing between tables. 1198 Coast Village Rd., Montecito, 805-969-0834. Gabe Saglie

Tagged in: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment