The once-in-a-lifetime dinner at The Silver Bough, prepared and served before my very eyes, lasted several hours and at $550 per person (yes, you read that right — it will take a small bag of gold to indulge in this experience) all-inclusive “ten years in the making dream” of Chef/owner Phillip Frankland Lee was a most unique culinary excursion.

The stellar dining experience is served up in the three acts (with many chapters) broken into sea, land and desserts. There was spiny lobster and caviar and an extraordinary amount of black truffles from France shaved before our very eyes and, yes, even 14-karat gold applied to certain dishes. Tender, melt-in–your-mouth delicacies, including Kinmedie (golden eye snapper) flown in from Japan and Olive Wagyu beef, are part of the more than 15-course adventure. (Dietary restrictions are honored.) But it’s much more than the array of ingredients, which are the best of the best. It’s the preparation, finely honed recipes and incredible presentation that dazzle.

There’s not enough space here to go into all the details, but two examples of the complexity of the artfully prepared dishes include pommes soufflé (a tiny, puffy, crispy potato skin pocket stuffed with lobster innards whipped with crème fraiche, topped with sea urchin and carnations); and a earthy Venison soup made with wild caught venison from New York, chanterelle mushrooms (after the rains) and a King pigeon egg from a Carpinteria ranch. That’s just a hint of the unique offerings.

European wine pairings — French, Italian and German — were superb and served in beautiful crystal goblets; all the artisan tableware has also been carefully curated and created.

The entire evening is a little bit culinary fairy tale, with a dash of Salvador Dali and a true chef’s’ table where chef/owner Phillip Frankland Lee and his partner/wife/pastry chef Margarita Kallas-Lee are ably aided by the wine steward Brian Lockwood and two amazing sous chefs, Danielle Van Steen and Sam Nuckols (one hails from Daniel in NYC) who “perform” by searing meat over blazing hot coals and handling sharp knives and tweezers with precision to arrange each course.

All in all, the Lilliputian food art, prepared with the deftest of hands, delights the palate and all senses, especially the aromas and taste buds, making for a memorable and educational evening for even the most strident foodie purists.

Chef Phillip is aiming for a Michelin star or three (if the rumor that the Michelin team will include L.A. and SB in the near future comes to fruition), but this humble, very thrilled reporter happily offers the entire team a sky full of stars — which is easy to do for an extremely memorable, enjoyable and yes, relaxed evening of amazing, over the top, 21st century dinner theater.

The Silver Bough is located inside the Montecito Inn at 1295 Coast Village Road in Montecito (Santa Barbara). A 7 p.m. seating (after 6:30 cocktails) is available every Thursday through Sunday. Tickets can be purchased at