Monday, January 17, 2011

Saddle Peak Lodge - A Hidden Gem (Calabasas)

Saddle Peak Lodge

Saddle Peak Lodge

Saddle Peak Lodge has been a place I've been interested for awhile, especially after reading kevineats' post awhile back. From what I've heard about Chef Adam Horton, I was pretty interested when our dining party was offered a special tasting menu that night. I made sure I ate a light lunch in order to not kill my appetite for dinner.


Top: Brioche. Bottom: Butter & Sea Salt

The meal starts with the usual bread course, and on this night, we were served a butter brioche, which was delicious by itself without the accompanied butter and sea salt. I was tempted to ask for a second brioche, but I figured it would have been wise to save space for the upcoming dishes.

My Darling Clementine

My Darlin' Clementine

Always a sucker for cocktails, I went with something on the Nouveau cocktail menu. My Darlin' Clementine consisted of fresh lime juice, pineapple juice, ginger elixir, and Svedka Clementine Vodka. All the ingredients were right up my alley and the final concoction was refreshing and delicious.

Roasted Tomato Soup

Amuse Bouche - Roasted Tomato Soup

The meal started off with the amuse, and in this case, a hot cappuccino cup of a roasted tomato soup. Even though it's not in season, the tomato soup was delicious. In fact, I regrettably finished my brioche or I would have dipped the bread into the soup. I wished the cup was much larger, but it was not meant to be.

Egg Caviar

1. Egg Caviar - oscetra caviar, dill yogurt espuma, house smoked salmon

We started the tasting off with egg caviar. The hollowed out egg was stuffed with smoked salmon, dill yogurt oscetra caviar, and of course, the egg itself. I loved the rich flavors of the egg yolk, and the salty flavors from the smoked salmon and caviar, which was finished off by the refreshing dill yogurt. A very pleasant start to the meal indeed.

Albacore Sashimi

2. Albacore Sashimi - cauliflower, green apple, almond, soy, mirin, ras el hanout

Here, we're presented with an albacore tuna sashimi dish which was served with crispy green apple, cauliflower and two delicious sauces. The tuna was fresh and the green apple gave it a nice crunchy texture, but the thing I loved were the two sauces that accompanied the albacore tuna. It offered a lot of flavors, but never overpowering. I really enjoyed this one.

Crispy Skin Wild Striped Bass

3. Crispy Skin Wild Striped Bass -
Variations of Salsify and Brussel Sprouts

The worst thing that any chef could do would be overcooking a piece of fish or steak, and the bass here was cooked perfectly, while leaving a delicious crispy skin. The variation of brussel sprouts were quite nice, and the fish as a whole was fantastic.

Guinea Hen "Galantine"

4. Guinea Hen "Galantine" - wild mushroom agnolotti and shaved perigord truffles

Next up, Chef Horton served us a bed of mushroom agnolotti with a delicious and tender guinea hen. To top all that off, shaved truffles finished the plating. Can you really get too much truffles? I think not! The guinea hen was juicy and tender, the agnolotti was cooked perfectly al dente, and truffles, I don't think I need explain that part. This was probably my favorite dish of the night!

Wood Grilled Muscovy Duck BreastWood Grilled Muscovy Duck Breast

5. Wood Grilled Muscovy Duck Breast - persimmon, sweet soy, yuzu, ash and flowers

We're then presented a bed of flowers, trees, and ashes. In the center of it all were perfect slices of grilled muscovy duck breasts accompanied again by some pretty amazing sauces. I enjoyed the forest-like presentation, but the most important thing was the duck was fantastic. I savored every bite.

Seared Foie Gras

6. Seared Foie Gras - sherry maple sauce, brioche, and a study of organic apples

I truly love foie gras, and it pains me to know it'll be banned in California soon (I guess it'll mean more trips to Montreal for me). The foie gras here was rich and soft, which literally melted in my mouth. The apples used here helped diffuse some of the richness from the foie gras which was definitely appreciated. All in all, it was quite delicious.

Texas Antelope

7. Texas Antelope - cauliflower, truffle, pear and foie gras

If I ate "thumper," I might as well eat "bambi" as well. This was my first time eating antelope, and I have to say I liked it. The antelope itself was cooked to a perfect medium rare and a piece of foie gras was served onto of the antelope. Finally, shaved black truffles finished the dish. Is there such a thing as too much foie gras or truffles? The answer to that is no and this was another winner!

New Zealand Elk Tenderloin

8. New Zealand Elk Tenderloin - celery root, sweet potato, crispy bacon, arugula, currants and hunter sauce

The last savory course of the night and we end it with a bang, in the form of elk tenderloin that was so tender, a knife was deemed unnecessary. The elk tenderloins was placed in a bed of some delicious "baby food" puree and topped with fried sweet potato strings. All the components were delicious, but the tenderness of the elk meat was truly memorable.


9. "Intermezzo" - Lemon Meringue ice cream, cherries and ginger

As we moved to the dessert portion of the meal, Chef Horton turned over the reins to pastry chef Kasra Ajdari. We started off we a palate cleanser of lemon meringue ice cream and cherries. The dish was tart and sweet, a nice way to switch up the palate.

"Flan Abstract"

10. "Flan Abstract" - Bell pepper croquante, flan, spiced yogurt and pepitas

Next, we were presented with a beautiful plate of almond ice cream with flans and a bell pepper croquante. I thoroughly enjoyed the almond ice cream, but I wasn't sure what the use of the bell pepper croquante, other than for aesthetics purposes. The flavor of bell pepper didn't really mesh well with this dessert in my opinion and the flan was slightly too rich for my liking.


11. "Chocolate" - Crustless chocolate torte, white chocolate namelaka, cocoa nib brittle and chocolate sorbert

Finally, we end the meal with a rich chocolate dessert. Although it was a rich dessert, which I thought could have used a fruit element, was much stronger than the previous dessert dish. The flavors was intense and rich, a chocolate lover's dream, though upon finishing this dish, I was ready to wave the white flag. I was stuffed!

Although Chef Adam Horton made us a special tasting menu that night, this was by no means a "media dinner." I truly enjoyed his cooking and I would glad to drive all the way to Calabasas again to try some of more of his cooking. However, as what he told us that night and announced on his Twitter page, Chef Horton will be leaving Saddle Peak Lodge next month for a new venture. Don't worry folks, he will be staying in the greater Los Angeles area. Follow his Twitter page for more updates. There are many exciting young chefs in our area and Chef Horton is definitely one of them. I'm excited to try more of his food in the coming months, but if you want to try his cooking at Saddle Creek Lodge, you better do it soon! This was definitely a great meal and hopefully many to come for me in 2011!

Saddle Peak Lodge
419 Cold Canyon Rd
Calabasas, CA 91302
(818) 222-3888


Diana said...

Everything looks so beautiful! How much was it for the tasting? Was that something Horton created just for your party?

Gastronomer said...

I'm certain the wild mushroom agnolotti would've been one of my faves too! Where's A Hort heading? I'd like to try some wild game!

bagnatic said...

i'm glad he's sticking around. such beautifully composed dishes and i can only imagine the delicious adjectives leaping off those plates!

Darin said...

Definitely some interesting dishes here - I've never had antelope before either (I can't even recall seeing it on a menu!).

Glad to see Horton's staying in this area...presumably somewhere much more accessible for the general LA population.

krissy @ said...

wow, talk about fine dining! i've always driven through calabasas but never actually got to enjoy the city or dined there. i will just have to live vicariously through your pictures and descriptions! hope all is well, danny!

gourmetpigs said...

Stop posting so fast, KFP, stay a slacker. Don't make me look bad!

I had a great bday meal here back in ... 2009? The artichoke agnolotti I had was also surprisingly my fave of the night.

stuffycheaks said...

Looks amazing. i really enjoyed Horton's stint at Test Kitchen. Sad to see him leave Saddle Peak but at least he'll be opening shop closer to the city!

Kung Food Panda said...

Diana: It was not a media event. We just had a special tasting done by Chef Horton at $100/pp sans tax/tip.

Cathy: That was a fantastic dish. I don't think he's mentioned it openly yet, but he's definitely gonna be A LOT closer to us in Pasadena.

Amy: Ya, I had to wave the white flag in the end. So good, and so full!

Darin: Ya, it was my first time trying Antelope and Elk. It was both fantastic, yet not so "gamey." Chef Horton is definitely gonna stay in the area.

Krissy: Happy Tet/Chinese New Year to the both of you!

Fiona: Now I'm back to being a slacker! LOL

Stephanie: I missed out on the TK run for Chef Horton, but I'm definitely going for more of his cooking down the road.