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Horrible Christmas Eve dinner at Saddle Peak Lodge

My family and I have been going to SPL on X-mas every year for 12 years or so and have a fond place in our heart for the restaurant.

The meal was price fix with an overly ambitious menu in that every dish had multiple ingrediants. There was no venison or elk or even a filet available. The main course were rabbit, duck and lamb. The food came out slow and cold and the service was somewhat apathetic. It was as if the chef pre-cooked it all and the staff reheated it.

I think this was a result of a poorly executed price fix but a top end place should never make that mistake. On the plus side they did remove the wine from our bill when we inquired of the waitress what she thought of the meal.

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  1. If the elk is not offered, there is no reason to go IMHO. Maybe even if it is offered. Markedly overrated place in comparison to the hyperbolic reviews (my last less than rave review earned a "WELL, WHAT DO YOU WANT???" response). However, if the wine were free it would soften my opinion.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Griller141

      Agree the elk is the way to go at SPL. Everything else on the menu is a big step down from there. It's all about the setting. The patio is really nice in the summer.

    2. This is why I don't dine out on holidays -- not Christmas, not Thanksgiving, not Valentine's Day and (twitch) not Mother's Day.

      It's the same story everywhere. And while I like SPL, I'm not really surprised.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        It's funny, I have a similar take on holidays as you do -- I won't dine out on any of those ones you mentioned, with the notable exception of Christmas Eve, which -- for some reason that eludes me -- I have never put in the same category as Mothers Day or Valentines. Curious.

        My husband and I have a long tradition dining out on Christmas Eve, enjoying the set menu at a fine French restaurant. Memorably at Le Carre des Feuillants in Paris - twice; L'Orangerie - twice; Bastide under Giraud; and then, for 2006, at Christophe Eme's lovely place Ortolan.

        All of these meals were absolutely superb. Yes, we dropped a LOT of dough (probably approx $450-500 US total for two persons each time, including paired wine and tip) so yeah, it was spendy.

        But never have we had anything close to the appalling experience listed here. If we had, I think I would think twice about venturing out on a holiday again.

      2. I was surprised because we had been going for years. Lots of our friends also go so its nice to get together after dinner for a drink.

        1. I would write the management and express your displeasure and explain what happened.

          Oftentimes they'll respond.

          Sorry to hear about your ordeal.

          1. Yes, I would definitely contact them. If they are a popular repeat destination for many families on a holiday like Christmas Eve, the kitchen may have gotten lazy or may be taking it for granted that people will come regardless of what they are served. If it is a tradition you and your family and friends want to continue, I'd certainly let them know of your displeasure with the food.

            1. Very unfortunate. Perhaps you should call and let them know about the disappointing evening. They're always very nice and may offer a compensation.

              I hope this doesn't turn you away from returning to SPL on any other non holiday occasion! Its food and setting is extraordinarily unique for LA.

              1. I had the same experience. I resisted writing about it, as I love the restaurant and hated to bad mouth it. But hearing it happened to someone else, I decided to chime in. It was a total debacle.

                First, having gone there the last few Christmas Eve’s as well, I am really surprised I was not warned that there would only be a set menu offered. Every year, they have a tasting menu, but the regular menu is also offered. Given the fact you have to make reservations a couple of months in advance, you have to fax them your credit card info, etc., there were numerous opportunities to be warned or alerted that the regular menu was not going to be offered. I’ve never been to a restaurant where you are not told about a limited menu and even faxed the menu. So we were very surprised when we sat down. And I agree that the menu that was offered was not very appealing. 4 courses, with only three choices each course. So you had a total of twelve dishes to choose from for the whole evening, and almost every dish had an ingredient that was off-putting to someone at our table. (Had we seen the menu, we never would have made a reservation. And the fact I had been talking so much about the Elk to the ‘newbie’ at the table didn’t make her any more enthused.) I tried to put as good a spin on it as possible, saying that, ‘Well, he is a good chef and clearly wants to have us try some new things, let’s go with it and see what happens.’ The problem was, as stated above, the food was cold. Course 2 came out barely warm, and Course 3, the true main entrée, was stone cold. I mean, it was if it came out of the fridge.

                Adding to our experience was pretty terrible service. The bus staff was nice and tried hard, but our waitress disappeared after taking the order and I never saw her again until, during cold course three, the wine steward asked us how things were and I was honest and told him and he ran to get her. We sat down later in the evening, at 8:30, so by that time she may have just been hiding in the back. Our wine was also taken off the bill... it makes me wonder how many bottles of wine they had to comp that night. I really wonder just what happened in that kitchen that night.

                I will go back for the Elk. I will never go back on a holiday, though.

                1. the bison short ribs are also excellent there. elk, yes. agree on holiday thread for sure. amateur nights.

                  1. I believe the chef has recently changed at SPL.