As the new executive chef at Mar Monte Hotel, Gunnar Planter will oversee the hotel’s two restaurants — costa Kitchen & Bar and Café Lido.
He has also designed the new menu at costa Kitchen & Bar with a focus on sustainably sourced ingredients inspired by the fresh seafood from Santa Barbara Seafood Market and produce available at local farms such Seaside Greens as well as the regional farmers’ markets.
Signature dishes at costa Kitchen & Bar include fresh starters such as Roasted Romanesco Cauliflower with pearl pepper, chickpea chana, Meyer lemon oil, pecorino and cilantro; and main dishes including Squid Ink Linguini and Clams with Manila clams, masala and uni butter sauce, snow peas and pea tendrils; a 30-day dry-aged New York steak and bone marrow with duck fat mash, cipollini onions, haricots verts, king trumpet mushrooms and red wine demi-glace; and Roasted Rack of Lamb with fregola sarda, confit fennel, San Marzano tomatoes, oyster mushrooms and harissa lamb jus.
These dishes will be complemented by classically rooted cocktails including By Way of Jalisco, a refreshing libation with Altos Reposado Tequila, blackberry, pomegranate, lime, ginger beer and Jerry Thomas bitters; and Garden Party, a fresh blend of St. George Botanivore Gin, yellow chartreuse, dry vermouth, hopped grapefruit bitters and lemon.
At costa’s more casual sister restaurant, Café Lido, the updated all-day menu features dishes including Crispy Masala Shrimp with squid ink, black garlic, masala aioli and grilled Meyer lemon; a Fried Chicken Sandwich with buttermilk fried chicken, garlic aioli, curtido and butter lettuce on a pretzel bun; and new breakfast dishes such as a Scotch Egg consisting of a soft-boiled hen egg, herbed bread crumbs, Calabrian chili hollandaise sauce and breakfast potatoes.
Guests can also enjoy a cheese and charcuterie board with cow, goat and blue cheeses, seasonal compote and garnishes, crackers and crostini.
Additional culinary experiences include a new Champagne weekend brunch at costa Kitchen & Bar and a social hour from 5 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday through Sunday with special deals on select beverages and appetizers to enjoy while taking in the Santa Barbara sunset.
Before joining the team at Mar Monte Hotel, Chef Planter opened Ebullition Gastronomy, a fine dining gastropub in Carlsbad, specializing in dry aged meats and charcuterie.
“Ebullition gets its name from a part of the brewing process. When the Wart (unfermented beer) comes to a boil, it is called the Ebullition. The definition of the word is a sudden burst or display of excitement,” said Chef Planter, who began his training in 2006 at the French restaurant, Mill Fleurs, in Rancho Santa Fe, under the mentorship of James Beard Award-winning Chef Martin Woesle.
“I was honored to work for and learn from Chef Woesle as a teenager, and I’m even more honored to be his friend as an adult,” said Chef Planter, who worked there for six years and advanced to sous chef while earning his bachelor’s degree in culinary science from the Art Institute of San Diego.
While working as executive chef at Viewpoint, a restaurant in Del Mar, he developed a menu based on coastal Californian cuisine, sourcing his ingredients from local farmers and fishermen.
He previously served as executive sous chef at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, and before that worked at several private social clubs, hotels and restaurants where he honed his experience in fine dining and banquets.
“I was born and raised in Escondido, and I’ve lived all over San Diego, most recently in Del Mar. My mother and father have been my inspirations in life, and I feel so happy and lucky to have been raised by such loving and brilliant parents,” said Chef Planter. “I’ve always had a passion for making people happy, and I find that through food.”