First & Oak of Solvang recently announced that it has been awarded a “Michelin Plate” in the 2019 Michelin California Guide, marking the first restaurant in the Santa Ynez Valley to receive special recognition by the Guide.

It is also one in 13 eateries in the Santa Barbara area to receive either the “Bib Gourmand” distinction or The Plate classification, according to the Guide's online restaurant locator.

First & Oak's sommelier and general manager Jonathan Rosenson made the announcement on social media Wednesday, June 5.

"It is with great honor to announce that we have been awarded the Michelin Plate for 2019! First ever Michelin Named Restaurant in Santa Ynez Valley," he wrote.

According to the culinary guidelines, an establishment is designated an honorary Michelin Plate for its "fresh ingredients, carefully prepared," and serving an overall good meal.

While not considered a star rating -- rated from one to three -- restaurants listed in the guide that have been awarded a Michelin Plate are reportedly judged by the same five criteria used for starred and Bib Gourmand restaurants.

"Many restaurants start off by entering the guide and then moving up to getting a star in following years. Some of the factors that may contribute to moving up from a Plate to a star include having talent in the kitchen, ambition and resources, like good suppliers to get the products needed," the Michelin Guide website explains. 

The Michelin Guide left a review of First & Oak, describing it as "a small, romantic boutique hotel, this is a deliciously old-school restaurant that is coming into its own with ambitious contemporary cuisine."

Alongside his family, Rosenson, who co-owns and operates First & Oak and the Mirabelle Inn that houses the restaurant, said his family bought the boutique hotel in 2016 and shortly thereafter opened the kitchen.

The originating Chef Steven Snook, he said, arrived decorated with a Michelin-star, Gordon Ramsay résumé, and successfully led the restaurant until passing the torch to his protégé, Chef JJ Guerrero, who continues to serve a vibrant, locally sourced menu accompanied by a stand-out wine list created by Rosenson himself.

Acknowledging that all equal parts make a whole, Rosenson said, "Thank you to all of our hardworking staff, friends, and loyal guests for your continued support this past year."

First & Oak is located at 409 First Street, at the corner of Oak Street, in Solvang and is open for dinner seven days a week, 5:30 to 8:45 p.m.

First & Oak’s Afternoon High Tea service is held on a monthly basis, one Sunday per month. 

For more information about the restaurant and its menu, visit firstandoak.com, Facebook at facebook.com/FirstandOak or Instagram @firstandoak.

Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News. 

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