my better half and i were treated by our two newly-wedded friends to an evening at inn of the seventh ray in topanga canyon over the weekend. as vegans, the women were looking forward to it, but the guys, pious practitioners of omnivorous behavior, were a bit apprehensive. i had thought it was an all-vegetarian restaurant. the veggie jokes were flowing and teasing about our diet was rabid. turns out, we were all surprised and satiated and can't wait to return.
it's difficult to write a report of this restaurant without first touching on the environment. to get there, you need to go into topanga canyon, which is refreshing after spending most of our time around unfeeling concrete. driving through the natural setting, i couldn't help but be energized by the shrubs, oak trees, hills and mountains around me. it just made me feel calm (that was, of course, until the horse trailer five cars ahead just *would not* pull over). the restaurant is tucked into the bank of a creek, with many of the natural elements, including the landscape, preserved. it is softly lit and sprinkled with little twinkly lights, small groupings of votives set atop each table. the "booth" in which we sat was carved into the hill and while it wasn't that comfortable, i did feel "part" of the environment. the heat lamps kept the cold at bay, for which i was extremely grateful since im always cold. enya and enya-esque music lowered my stress level from the whole horse trailer incident quickly and kept it there.
the restaurant also has a spiritual bookstore in which to browse prior to or after dinner. its definitely new-agey (which i actually like), but theyve got some interesting reads (why i paint cats, not to be confused with the also-present, why cats paint) and things, including jewelry, perfume and some soothing water chimes i want to buy for my mom, who has this new curious obsession for water fountains. plus, if youre on a first date, its a super ice-breaker: hey, let me check out your chakras.
first, we ordered a bottle of wine that was the best we had tried in a long time: a 2000 england shaw syrah by rosenblum cellars (http://www.rosenblumcellars.com/in00s...), $43. it was soft, sweet and we can't wait to get our hands on another bottle. in fact, we've looked at no less than two wine specialty stores and three retail stores trying to find it. thankfully, we will be in the bay area this weekend and in writing this report, i discovered there is a rosenblum tasting room in my dad's hometown. how's that for a coinkydink?
our server was charming, competent and friendly and even though he didn't tell us the wine he served was not the same wine on the menu, it didn't matter to me since he reminded me of a grown-up version of my seven-year-old nephew. am i getting soft or what?
a basket of bread and flatbread was served with olive oil and vinegar and nopalito salad (cactus with tomato). it could have been a bit more flavorful for me, but the flatbread was delicious plain.
the menu - surprisingly, contained options for our meat- and fish-eating partners, so the jokes (nearly) ceased. we all ordered a first course. two of us had marinated baby vegetables ($12), which had carrots, baby zucchini, tomato in a truffle vinaigrette. i had to season mine, but it was quite enjoyable. the other two had the belgium endive salad with gorgonzola cheese, walnuts, tangerine and a champagne vinaigrette ($9). it was tart and lovely. we all had clean plates.
for dinner, i chose an option from their raw menu: a microgreen salad with raspberry vinaigrette ($12?). i thought to myself, "aren't all salads raw?" the problem i face when i am at a veggie-friendly restaurant is that i always get all aflutter with all the choices and i can't decide. i cracked and ordered the first thing that came to my mind. anyway, the salad consisted of little sprouty leafs, some green, some red with a crispy texture and slightly bitter taste. the vinaigrette wasnt overbearing and the pieces of raspberry added a sweet soft treat. my vegan counterpart had the vegetarian polenta with autumn vegetables and baby spinach ($20). i tasted it and would order this next time. it was smooth, savory and substantial. our friend had the sea scallops with belgium endive, duck bacon, leeks, carrot ginger sauce ($28). he had the entire plate cleared in no time. my better half enjoyed the grilled filet of naturally-raised beef with pearl onions, yukon gold potatoes, smoked shiitake, red wine sauce ($31). he's big on steak and since i've been trying to get him to eat "natural" beef for a while, i feel like this was an excellent start and a motivator to continue.
since we were treated, im not sure of the total.
my husband and i are anxious to go back for a romantic date "a deux."
inn of the seventh ray
128 old topanga canyon road
topanga, ca 90290-3807