At its core, the menu at Ox + Anchor is stuffed with the normal picks that you can come across at steakhouses all about The us: seafood and salads, steaks and potatoes. But the decadence is in the facts: tuna tartare with jalapeño, mint, basil, wonton, and ponzu beets with herbed goat cheese, quince, and candied walnuts Kobe flatiron steak from Snake River Farms, topped Oscar-style with Dungeness crab, asparagus, and Béarnaise potatoes with crème fraîche and chive.
“We’re hoping to strike all individuals notes that you look for in a great steakhouse, but when you get the dish, it is a tremendous-exquisite, stunning edition of that,” points out Chef Ryan Fancher, a Santa Barbara native who runs this and two other restaurant/bars inside of of Hotel San Luis Obispo. “You think, ‘Wow, this is artwork.’”
The all-effective Michelin Guidebook agreed, adding Ox + Anchor to its record of “New” California dining establishments past 12 months, a hint that Fancher’s steakhouse may possibly be in the working for a coveted Michelin star down the highway. But the Guidebook did not prevent at Ox + Anchor, contacting out the Cal-Ital choices at Piadina throughout the foyer as “worth a go to.” Fancher is also in cost there and assists oversee considerably of what’s taking place at the resort, which is nonetheless basically manufacturer-new in that pandemic-time-freeze way. Positioned just steps from equally Higuera Road and Mission San Luis Obispo in what was after the city’s smaller Chinatown, Lodge S.L.O.’s 78 visitor rooms, eating places, bars, spa, and conference locations of different measurements opened in Oct 2019, just in advance of COVID shut all the things down.
The put was again to comprehensive-tilt when I visited on a Thursday in early January, as the crowds emptying S.L.O.’s at any time-brilliant farmers’ market filled the hotel’s a variety of nooks. Inside Ox + Anchor’s stacked dining room, my close friend and I dined like pre-pandemic gourmands on that tartare and that flatiron steak, but also chicory salad, duck confit, and, to complete, a pyromaniac’s delight in the form of baked Alaska, individually prepared by cafe manager Gabby Ampey. (Note to self: 4 bottles of wine is as well quite a few for two 40-somethings, even when the personnel helps out a little bit.)
Immediately after a deep sleep in my home — which strikes the correct present day-rustic design and style observe while keeping everyday and snug — I joined Fancher for a tour early the future early morning. He walked me by the S.Low Bar, in the foyer by Piadina, and then up to the rooftop’s Substantial Bar, in which a culinary garden accents a menu of margaritas, spritzes, and speedy bites like crab sliders, Thai rooster meatballs, and scallop aguachile.
The Dos Pueblos High grad’s earliest restaurant encounters ended up as a Hawaiian-shirted 15-12 months-old at Chuck’s of Hawaii on Upper Point out Street. That was followed by work opportunities at the Ballard Inn in the Santa Ynez Valley and the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, where by he confirmed that his contacting was culinary.
“My loved ones was fragmented a little bit, which is why I liked the pirate existence of the kitchen area,” explained Fancher. “Working vacations and weekends, it was the great location for me.”
Santa Barbara’s culinary scene was even now rising two a long time back, so Fancher headed north to the Napa Valley for a suitable training, working at Auberge du Soleil and then underneath Thomas Keller at The French Laundry. In 2004, he was element of the crack crew sent to New York Town to open up Keller’s Per Se — strolling to do the job from a furnished Central Park condominium for four months was not much too undesirable — and then he returned to reopen The French Laundry with a total new staff.
He went on to open El Dorado Kitchen on the Sonoma Sq., and then expended 9 years at Barndiva in Healdsburg, which is where by he satisfied Lodge Healdsburg owners Circe Sher and Paolo Petrone. Less than their enterprise Piazza Hospitality, they have been opening Hotel S.L.O. and requested Fancher to verify it out.
“I needed to go off and get an schooling, but I normally just loved this space,” reported Fancher of the Central Coastline. “The prospect to arrive again dwelling was an simple conclusion for me.” It was a tougher market to his wife and 3 daughters less than 10 many years old, but they all quickly fell in adore upon moving to Nipomo far more than three decades ago.
He’s very pleased of the younger staff of cooks that he’s assembled to run Ox + Anchor, which he calls a “technique-driven” cafe. “Even however it’s just potato puree,” stated Fancher by way of case in point, “it’s like [Joël] Robuchon’s puree. It is the ideal.”
Across the breezeway at Piadina, exactly where the everyday vibe does brisker company than Ox + Anchor, Fancher is having fun with the pizza oven, mixing creative ingredients with wooden-fired tradition. “The proprietor is Italian, so he’s pushing me toward Italian,” explained Fancher. “But I’m a California chef. We’re conference in the middle. We do a soppressata, but we place a fried egg on top rated of it.”
Fancher credits the proximity of farms for the top quality of his elements, especially boutique growers like Bautista Loved ones Farms in Arroyo Grande and Chavez Household Farms in Santa Maria. “Even if you’re getting commodities like a box of Brussels or a case of artichokes, all that things will come from all around right here,” explained Fancher. “It’s at the upcoming stage of freshness and high-quality that would not constantly get up north, when it experienced to be on a truck or trapped in a warehouse for a handful of times.”
Owning worked Santa Barbara’s major kitchens a long time ago, Fancher usually knew that the Central Coast would increase up California’s culinary ranks. “It’s not a shock to me,” he stated of the region’s Michelin-identified status. “But I consider people are just now exploring it.”
Ox + Anchor is internet hosting a collection of wine pairing dinners, showcasing Sextant Wines on March 29, Talley Vineyards on April 26, Cass Winery on May perhaps 24, and Wolff Vineyards on June 29. See oxandanchor.com and resort-slo.com.