RESTAURANT REVISITED: IF YOU'RE GAME FOR `GETAWAY' FARE.Byline: Larry Lipson Daily News Restaurant Critic
Favored for its ``getaway'' qualities, Saddle Peak Lodge sits in the hills between Malibu and the west end of the San Fernando Valley San Fernando Valley
Valley, southern California, U.S. Northwest of central Los Angeles, the valley is bounded by the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountains and the Simi Hills. as a convenient dining rendezvous from either end.
In the late '80s and throughout the '90s, it has risen to the top of its genre - contemporary American food with an emphasis on game - becoming one of the city's most popular upscale dinner houses.
Currently, you'll find elk, buffalo, venison venison (vĕn`ĭzən) [O.Fr.,=hunting], term formerly applied to the flesh of any wild beast or game hunted and used for food but now restricted to the flesh of members of the deer family. , ostrich and quail on the game side with steaks, lamb, veal, pork and free-range chicken plates for the less adventurous.
Seafood isn't forgotten. Blue bass and king salmon share honors with a scallops, mussels, shrimp and crawfish crawfish: see crayfish. risotto ri·sot·to
n. pl. ri·sot·tos
A dish of rice cooked in broth, usually with saffron, and served with grated cheese.
[Italian, from riso, rice, from Old Italian; see rice. and the ubiquitous ahi tuna offering.
And, yes, Saddle Peak has the required pasta dish, also a handful of salads and its signature serving of chili among the appetizers.
With its unique mixture of rusticity Rusticity
Grant Wood’s painting of stern Iowan farming couple. [Am. Art: Osborne, 1215]
awkward rural wench who jilts a countryman for a clown. [Br. and elegance, Saddle Peak appeals to the broadest of audiences. Considered macho by some, romantic by others, its log-cabin looks and robust fare combined with an out-of-the-way address puts it in a unique position among high-echelon restaurants in Los Angeles.
It's truly a destination spot with a capital ``D,'' a place that makes any dining occasion special.
Name: Saddle Peak Lodge.
Address: 419 Cold Canyon Road, Calabasas.
Phone: (818) 222-3888 or (310) 456-7325.
When we last reviewed: July 22, 1987.
How long in business: Since the '30s, exact date unknown.
Menu/cuisine changes: Not too many major changes. Main items generally remain the same with variation in recipes each time a new chef is hired.
Decor/physical changes: Originally part of a nearby resort called Crater Camp, Saddle Peak Lodge began simply as a cabin that sold a nonalcoholic non·al·co·hol·ic
A beverage usually containing less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume. beverage called ``Hillbilly Punch'' during Prohibition. The cabin was moved in the '40s to the present location after the creeks around Crater Camp ran dry. It became a lunch counter specializing in sandwiches and beer. Clark Gable was reputed to have stopped by on his motorcycle. In the '60s, it became a casual steak house, and additional rooms and a cocktail lounge were added. Eventually it grew to its present size, seating more than 300 in its interior rooms and patio dining areas. In 1984, Al Ehringer and his partners under the name of Grand American Fare transformed it into the grand hunting lodge it basically resembles today.
Personnel changes: Several managers, maitre d's and chefs have worked here over the years, two of the most notable being general manager Rolf Nonnast and chef Josie Le Balch.
Currently, the restaurant is owned by Dr. Ann Graham Ehringer and managed by Hossein Zargaran, most recently the manager of Cafe Pinot in downtown Los Angeles Downtown Los Angeles is the central business district of Los Angeles, California, located close to the geographic center of the metropolitan area. The sprawling, multi-centered megacity is such that its downtown core is often considered just another district like Hollywood or .
Its executive chef, Alex Scrimgeour, an expert at handling pheasant, partridge and other game fare, took over the kitchen reins this past fall, coming here from Colorado, where he'd headed the Aspen Grill of the Ritz Carlton hotel in Aspen.
Also among his credits is a stint at Jeremiah Tower's Stars in San Francisco.
Recommendable dishes: Melange mé·lange also me·lange
A mixture: "[a] building crowned with a mélange of antennae and satellite dishes" Howard Kaplan. of wild mushrooms with smoked duck in a puff pastry stack with fava beans, carpaccio car·pac·cio
Very thinly sliced raw meat or fish, especially beef or tuna, garnished with a sauce.
[Italian, after Vittore Carpaccio, who favored red pigments. of buffalo tenderloin on arugula arugula
Yellowish-flowered European herbaceous plant (Eruca vesicaria sativa), of the mustard family, cultivated for its foliage, which is used especially in salads. leaves with shaved Parmesan and truffle oil, mustard-sauced saddle of Colorado lamb stuffed with roasted peppers and baby spinach, game plate of mixed grilled venison, quail and ostrich, pan-roasted rare breast of duck and leg of duck confit with strands of crispy yam and a pink peppercorn pep·per·corn
1. A dried berry of the pepper vine Piper nigrum.
2. A small or insignificant thing.
the small dried berry of the pepper plant
sauce, tenderloin of elk topped with seared sear 1
v. seared, sear·ing, sears
1. To char, scorch, or burn the surface of with or as if with a hot instrument. See Synonyms at burn1.
2. Canadian duck foie gras and paired with wild mushrooms, tarte tatin or rhubarb rhubarb: see buckwheat.
Any of several species of the genus Rheum (family Polygonaceae), especially R. rhaponticum (or R. rhabarbarum), a hardy perennial grown for its large, succulent, edible leafstalks. tart with Dandy Don's coconut ice cream.
Service quality: Knowledgeable staffers never rush patrons and try hard to keep them happy.
Pricing: No big bargains here. Appetizers range from $6.75 to $13.75, entrees from $19.75 to $39.75, desserts from $6.50 to $8.50.
Wine list/service: Wine inventory is large. Some 220 labels are currently listed, only 15 under $25 per bottle. Many over $100. Range from $14.75 for a '96 chenin blanc to $199 for '89 Roederer Cristal. Nicely categorized. All vintage dates listed. Corkage: $15. Full bar contains selection of grappas, cognacs, armagnacs and eaux de vie.
Policies worth mentioning: Open for Sunday sit-down brunch ($22.50). Dinners served Wednesday through Sunday. Restaurant rooms available for meetings, weddings and special events every day.
Miscellaneous comments: 'Tis rumored that there's a house ghost here. Regulars have their favorite rooms in the three-floor lodge. In addition to the antler-filled main dining room, there are rooms called the Loft, the Den and the Library.
Our latest ratings: food: Four stars; wine: Three stars; service: Three and one half stars
Photo: Saddle Peak Lodge chef Alex Scrimgeour, left, and general manager Hossein Zargaran display a few of the Calabasas restaurant's menu offerings.
Tom Mendoza/Daily News