Opulent desserts by The Silver Bough’s Margarita Kallas Lee

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Margarita Kallas Lee at the Santa Barbara Farmers Market Photo credit: Kathryn Barnes/KCRW

A new restaurant in Montecito takes the concept of fine dining along the Central Coast to a whole new level. At The Silver Bough , you can enjoy a luxurious 16-course meal for $550 a person ($450 excluding alcohol). What makes the price tag so extravagantly high? Husband and wife duo Phillip Frankland Lee and Margarita Kallas Lee, who own the restaurant inside the Montecito Inn, use the finest ingredients from around the globe, from Tasmanian ocean trout and Japanese Wagyu beef to 24k gold and black truffles from France.

But not everything you eat comes with a carbon footprint.

“We want to have you try all these amazing ingredients from all around the world, but a lot of the ingredients we use are local because the local ingredients are so beautiful and amazing,” said Kallas Lee.

Bee pollen from Blue Ridge Honey in Ventura. Photo credit: Kathryn Barnes/KCRW

The idea for the restaurant came to Phillip Frankland Lee about ten years ago, and turned into a reality earlier this year.

“The inspiration was a folklore of the silver bough,” she said, “which is a branch that a mortal would find somewhere in the world. When he picked up that branch that had these golden apples on it, the apples would cling together and make this melody that transports you into a different world where the gods are tending to you and sharing a beautiful experience. When you wake up, you’re back in your real world and you don’t know whether it was a dream or a memory.”

That’s the experience Frankland Lee and Kallas Lee create for their guests four nights a week at their 8-seat restaurant.

Chef Phillip Frankland Lee and his team in action at The Silver Bough. Photo credit: Joe Schmelzer

At the Tuesday farmers market in Santa Barbara, Kallas Lee is picking up honey and bee pollen from Blue Ridge Honey in Ventura and fresh chamomile from Earthtrine Farms in Ojai. All these ingredients make their way into The Silver Bough’s finale dessert.

“The chamomile dessert is comprised of honey and chamomile custard covered in black truffles from Burgundy and candied bee pollen,” she said.

Chamomile Custard at The Silver Bough. Photo credit: Cecilia Rosell, Courtesy of Visit Santa Barbara

Fresh Chamomile Tips from Margarita Kallas Lee:

I love cooking with herbs and one of my all-time favorites is chamomile! Traditionally, when you think of chamomile you think tea, and that is definitely a great application especially with fresh chamomile.  Depending on how strong you want your tea, I would take a cup of hot water and add a few sprigs of chamomile - yes the whole stem, flower and all. Using chamomile is also incredibly beneficial as it aids in sleep, digestion, and it’s also an antioxidant. So, even if you can’t immediately use the entire bunch of fresh chamomile, dry it and seal it in a ziplock bag for future use.

Another fun utilization of chamomile is to use it in caramel for a delicious dessert. I really like the texture and flavor of this vegan caramel recipe I came up with a while back, and chamomile would be a great flavor to make it even better!

Chamomile flowers from Earthtrine Farms in Ojai. Photo credit: Kathryn Barnes/KCRW

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tbl sp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • A handful of chamomile
  • 1 cup coconut cream

Combine everything together in a saucepan, except the chamomile, turn the heat to medium and stir until the brown sugar starts dissolving.

Once the sugar is dissolved in the coconut milk turn the heat so that the mixture starts simmering, and at that point add in the chamomile. Again you can add as little or a lot as you want, depending on how strong you want the flavor to be.

The caramel is done when you can see small little air bubbles in the mixture and the mixture is thickened a lot.

Strain out the chamomile, and let the caramel cool.

And now you can enjoy it with a scoop of ice cream, or even add it on top of a blueberry cobbler!




Kathryn Barnes