Release Date: December 19,2016
Steve Hermann fell in love with Santa Barbara after moving to Montecito seven years ago, but had one objection: “My big complaint with it is I just don’t think the food tastes very good.”
After the Arts & Letters Café closed last year in downtown Santa Barbara, the designer of high-end celebrity homes in Los Angeles went all out reconstructing the site for his second venture into the high-end hospitality business.
“We’ve spent millions of dollars and two years completely rebuilding the entire facility, ground up,” he said.
On Dec. 9, Somerset, featuring “progressive California cuisine with rustic French and Italian influences,” will open at 7 E. Anapamu St.
Hermann even convinced the chef of his favorite restaurant, A.O.C. in Los Angeles, to lead Somerset’s kitchen.
The goal, Hermann said, is a “world-class” restaurant that won’t compete with its fellow Santa Barbara establishments, but “against the best restaurants in the world.”
The designer’s first foray into the hospitality industry was in Palm Springs with L’Horizon Hotel and Spa.
Somerset’s interior will have a “classic type of feel to it” with a mid-century-modern twist, he said, while the courtyard, bolstered by 500-year-old olive trees craned in over the roof, will feel like a “great, grand café in London.”
“Step into the back and you could be in Tuscany, you could be in old Greece,” Hermann said. “It’s very hard to determine where you are because you feel like you’ve been transported to another place and another time.
“The space is absolutely gorgeous — gorgeous to the point where we expect we should win multiple design awards against the best restaurants in the world.”