I took my boyfriend to Saddle Peak Lodge last Sunday night for dinner under some of the worst weather conditions possible for California-what would otherwise have been a romantic evening drive was instead an ordeal, since the last thing you want to do during a record-setting rainfall is drive up a dark, windy mountain road.
Despite the awful weather conditions, there were a fair number of diners at the restaurant. It seemed to be at least 2/3s full when we arrived around 7 and had emptied out to about 1/3 full when we left around 9. We were seated in the corner of the main room by the fireplace, a location I had hoped would be more intimate. It was cosy, but not as private as we would have liked. Spatially, we were separated from other diners by a couple of feet, but we could clearly hear the conversation from the tables around us. Otherwise, we loved the rustic charm, and the warm woods and fireplace were especially comforting given the raininess.
The food overall was quite good. Unfortunately, the diver scallops of which I'd heard such good things were no longer on the menu.
Seared foie gras with candied apples on toasted brioche, with champagne rhubarb sauce and balsamic reduction--my first bite of this was amazing. I loved the way the subtle butteriness of the foie gras played off the sweetness of the candied apples. Each bite was an experience worth savoring. The foie gras came in a generous portion, good for sharing.
Buffalo roulade stuffed with arugula and horseradish cream and fried capers--a light appetizer consisting of five or six thin slices of buffalo topped with a fried quail egg. The buffalo was nice and rare in the middle, just enough meat to tease you with its exquisite flavor. Starts off spicy with a gently salty finish.
Roasted elk tenderloin with bacon wrapped salsify, Jerusalem artichokes, and creamy wild mushroom sauce--based on the previous recommendations of several hounds, I ordered this for my entree. The elk was thinly sliced and very tender. Delicious, but I wasn't a big fan of the sides. The mushy sweetness of the salsify was a nice contrast to the slightly chewy saltiness of the elk, but I thought the bacon was overkill. I'm not a huge meat eater so it was just too much meat on one plate for me. On the other hand, my boyfriend's reaction was "mmmm... bacon."
Wood fired venison rack, risotto cake, red swiss chard and poached pear--the venison was perfectly cooked on the inside, nicely seared on the outside to bring out that smokey flavor.
Dulce de Leche creme brulee, came with some nutty/chocolatey biscuits that were fun to chew on in between the velvety bites of creme brulee.
Our server was genuinely friendly and she recommended a pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon to pair with my bf's buffalo roulade and venison. Waiters frequently came by to refill our water glasses, explained what we were being served, and warned us about hot plates-basically, they did all the right things.
Overall, we had a wonderful experience and enjoyed the opportunity to try unusual meats.