Solvang, California’s newest hotspot is Sear Steakhouse, a farm restaurant business in the Santa Ynez Valley of Demitri “Jimmy” and Karen Loizides. This full-service restaurant and bar is the third Santa Ynez Valley hospitality business for the couple behind K’Syrah Catering and Event and Maverick Saloon. The steakhouse is Santa Barbara’s second winery for partner and general manager Alberto Battaglini.
Sear Steakhouse is an elegant restaurant built on the venue’s original adobe brick walls, with rustic decor and a modern ranch vibe. With reclaimed wood accents, two fireplaces, wooden tables and benches, all handcrafted by Jimmy and his team, give this steakhouse a warm, welcoming and upscale vibe.
Unlike most other steakhouses, the establishment sources much, if not most, of ingredients from the restaurant’s own team farms, Sear Farm and Roblar Farm. Just minutes from the establishment, these two farms are cultivated by hand and populated with more than 100 varieties of vegetables, fruits and herbs cultivated specifically for the restaurant. Sear Steakhouse will get its meat from a single-source Colorado farm and USDA Prime and Choice beef from neighboring ranches.
Starters include seared filet mignon with ginger, garlic ponzu and microgreens; wild blue crab cakes and red pepper remoulade; Roasted bone marrow with oxtail jam and more. The really delicious sides feature some of the best veg on the farm, including crispy Brussels sprouts; grilled asparagus; and Sear Farms Fried Cauliflower, among other dishes.
All steaks are served à la carte and include the Tomahawk with Bone, Center Filet Mignon, and Rib Eye with Bone. Complements include New England Lobster Tail and a selection of different styles such as Oscar style and blue cheese. Other main courses are wild caught scallops with mashed cauliflower, crispy bacon, pickled red onions, truffle shavings; and the New Zealand Rack of Lamb with grilled leek aioli, roasted leeks.
Of course, you can’t be in the wine country and not have a great selection of Central Coast wines. In addition, the steakhouse offers favorites from other pristine regions including Napa, France and Italy.
The cocktail program is run by Battaglini, known in the region for its mixology programs. Using farm herbs and fresh produce for its libations, the cocktail menu will include a section of “classic” drinks – such as a Sazerac, Hemingway or Pisco Sour – as well as a Martini column. ‘Modern’ crafts will include Battaglini farm drinks such as ‘The Retox’ with gin, aloe liqueur, basil, cucumber, parsley tincture, lime and simple syrup. and the “Surfing cow” with gin, pepper, basil, Aperol, simple syrup.
We chatted with owners Demitri “Jimmy” and Karen Loizides about the openness, farms, menu inspiration and more. Here is what they had to say.
You’re not new to the hospitality industry, how did your experience prepare you for opening Sear Steakhouse?
I have worked in the restaurant business all my life since I was 16. I’ve had every job in the restaurant industry, from dishwasher to owner and everything in between. I have been through multiple economic downturns and fluctuations, the most brutal of which, COVID-19. I had several concepts and spoke to a lot of different people. I realize that you need to know your surroundings in order to prepare yourself for specific activity in this area. I think for these reasons it prepared me for our new business.
How much of your ingredients come from your farms, Sear Farm and Roblar?
We try to use our farm produce as much as possible and incorporate it into the menu, so sometimes we build a dish around a specific vegetable rather than the other way around.
For example, we just had a special fish that was local rock cod that was built around wild dandelions from the farm. Depending on the season, we grow up to 130 different things. We also grow most of our own herbs.
Like right now, we have tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, basil, zucchini and about fifteen other different things. We also have 12 varieties of fruit crops – they will be ready from summer to fall.
What is the inspiration for your menu? Where does the meat come from? Unmissable dishes?
The inspiration for the menu was my love for traditional steakhouses. We have always said we wanted our steakhouse to be a special place for premium steaks and locally grown and sourced seafood and produce.
My wife and I always joked that if Mastro’s steakhouse married a farm and had a baby, it would be Sear Steakhouse. Our meat comes from a single ranch in Colorado called Stock Yards. The dishes to try are always the best steaks, my favorite being the bone-in rib eye and my wife’s being the tenderloin.
Plus, one of our most popular dishes is Diver Scallops which is based on mashed cauliflower with crispy bits of bacon and truffle shavings.
Was opening during the pandemic difficult? Have there been any unforeseen problems?
Opening during the pandemic was not as difficult as we thought as we were near the end of the pandemic and people wanted to go out and enjoy our restaurant. Our biggest challenge has been trying to find staff, which seems to be a huge problem for almost every restaurant in the country. We have a great team, starting with our partner and managing director Alberto Battaglini, our chef Erik Dandee and the rest of our amazing staff.
What do you hope diners take away from a meal at Sear Steakhouse?
What we want our dinner to remember after a meal in our steakhouse is to say, “Wow, this was an amazing dining experience with great starters, great service, great craft cocktails and I can’t. believe how awesome the environment was. “
How were the first months of opening?
The first two months of opening were quite interesting for us with the staffing challenges. However, in saying this, we exceeded our sales expectations and are very grateful for all the support from the community and tourists. Well the best thing we did was invest a lot of time and money in pre-opening training. It really helped us get under our feet and hit the road running.