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Saddle Peak - seating & menu recs?

Going to Saddle Peak for the first time (finally!) - and would like to know what your rec is for 'best seat'. I've seen some posts with table by fireplace recs - and other for upstairs.... Not sure if I should just leave it up to the maitre'd or if I should request. Thoughts?

Also - any recent menu suggestions -- I was planning to go for the elk!

TIA!

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  1. Patio, weather cooperating of course.

    Can't go wrong with the elk. Also, if it's offered the chili is great as well.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      I second that, the patio is beautiful and the elk is wonderful

      1. re: budlit

        thanks - have an 8pm res. - so it might be too chilly for me on the patio....

        1. re: The Oracle

          There are heat lamps.

          That being said, summer is probably the best time to dine al fresco at SPL.

    2. The elk is great. When I went, they also had sort of a game sampler entree which included I think elk, quail, and buffalo, so it might be good to order to be able to try it all.

      Despite the many reports on Chowhound, we also succumbed to ordering the dessert sampler but agreed with everyone else that the bread pudding was the way to go and should have ordered this alone.

      1. If you're there early enough for dinner, or going for brunch, the patio is wonderful; note, though, that it can get chilly as the sun goes down (and it ducks down behind the mountains earlier than it does on the coast), so if you're coming for dinner after, say, 6:15 or so you might want to be inside, because it'll be dark by the time you are 3/4 of the way through your meal and you might get cold outside.

        Inside, there is the large main room downstairs and three smaller rooms upstairs -- the "library" and two others whose names I can't recall. If you are going for a romantic occasion, a table near the fireplace in the main room can't be beat -- UNLESS you are put off by the thought of stuffed animal heads watching you as you eat, in which case you won't want to be anywhere in the main room. The upstairs rooms are also lovely, though they don't (as I recall) feature the large bent-willow chairs in the main room. But in reality, you won't feel like a second-class citizen no matter which room you end up in.

        As to menu, I firmly second the elk recommendation; I've had it several times, and it was better than the best filet mignon I've ever had -- tender, flavorful, and not a bit gamy. Last time I was there I had the "Berkshire pork duo of loin and braised belly," which was also excellent. The dinner menu is very, VERY meat-and-game intensive (http://www.saddlepeaklodge.com/dinner...), and I have never had anything there that was less than very good. You might think about the tasting menu (look at the bottom of the menu in the link posted above), which -- in light of the regular menu's prices -- looks like a bargain and sounds terrific to boot.

        Have fun! It's a wonderful restaurant, both in terms of food, service, and ambience.

        1. The Patio has heaters. Just don't let them sit you by the waiter station, like they did to me on my Birthday.

          Sure, the elk is what everyone gets, but I like the chili, the butternut squash soup, the Squab and the Salmon.

          The Berkshire pork is yummy, too.

          I liked the side of mac n cheese, too.

          1. I just went last week and was intending to write a review on their tasting menu. It was FABULOUS. Highly recommended. We were trying to choose between the menu and the Elk (I've had that and it really is as good as 'hounds say) and decided to just splurge. On a side note, I had forgotten how fun and different and romantic the place is. It's so un-LA!

            Quick review:
            First Course: Yellow fin tuna sashimi - Fish was very fresh, but the vinagrette sauce was WAY too powerful. Scrape that off and you're good to go.

            Second Course: Risotto with grilled quail and shaved foie gras - Absolutely lovely. Risotto was perfectly cooked, slightly sweet (maple pecan I think). Grilled quail was terrific, slightly smoky flavor. I was practically gnawing the bones, it was so good.

            Main Course: Duo of wild boar - braised shoulder and seared boar saddle. WOW this duo was good. Braised shoulder was this big meatball of shredded bbq meat. Seared boar was unbelievably good - slightly pink in the center, not gamey at all, tender as can be. It really reminded me of a very good steak, but without such a 'dark' flavor.

            Dessert: Panna Cotta. I'm not a big panna cotta (or dessert) fan so I can't tell you if this was good or not. I liked it fine.

            anyway, I've been raving about this meal ever since and I'm trying to think of a good excuse to go back!

            If you go, please post your report!

            1 Reply
            1. re: maybelle

              Mmmmm, Saddlepeak! The elk is definitely the best, but I wish they'd mix up the prep methods; the best elk I had there had a cab reduction & a slice of fois gras...My favorite room is the one at the very top; it's so small, it has the least amt. of tables. I love their creme brulee; the best I ever had was the lemongrass...This is one of my favorite restaurants; please post a report!

            2. We once sat at a table on the third level that was purportedly "haunted," as per the waitress' story. Ask for that when you make a reservation :) Notwithstanding that, though, I still like the third level best. It's smaller, more quaint, but still has the old haunting lodge feel with the the ceiling lower, the artifacts closer.

              Table 5 is supposedly Hemingway's table. I asked them about that once, but they couldn't confirm. :)

              I like the game sampler. You get to try a bit of everything. That said, their entrees are just as phenomenal. Osso bucco, especially tender and fall of the bone. I like their salad appetizers though - if I have foie gras early on, it just seems too heavy for the rest of the gamey meal.

              And, we usually get the dessert sampler to share. Yes, bread pudding is good..also love the marscapone souffle and panna cotta.

              Have fun and report back!

              1. Thanks all for the recs. Went on Wednesday evening and the patio was not an option. We sat in the main room, in the corner (opposite from the fireplace - as the tables were all filled). My pick for favorite seat would be the one in the corner of the fireplace (next to the walkway), that's more like a booth. The one directly in front of the fireplace seems too 'on fire' and the one on the other side of the fireplace seemed too tucked away (so you couldn't enjoy the fire). There were only the 3 2-top options, as there were several parties of 5 or more in the adjacent areas.

                As for the food.... the quick review is: my favorite part was dessert.

                Amuse: a tasting of pumpkin soup. I wasn't at the table when it was served (I was in the restroom - and found it odd they didn't wait to serve it til I got back) - i took a couple sips and it had a strange spice in it that i didnt care for.

                Aps: the special chili (only served on Wednesdays) - they start cooking it on Sunday's - it's a no-bean chili with boar and buffalo. It was good (and an incredible deal) - a very large crock for $11. Definitely enough to share for 2, served with sides of sour cream, lime, onions, grated cheddar cheese. I did like this hearty chili, although, perhaps I've been blessed to have a family of excellent chili makers - because it didn't knock my socks off. we also ordered the butternut squash soup - which I found to be way too sweet for my liking. My favorite part was the pumpernickle bread and quail egg in the center - very tasty and the bread was perfectly toasted. Only ate about 1/2 the soup - and took the remaining portion of the chili home (for lunch the next day!).

                mains: the BF ordered the filet - very light and tender - not a lot of meat flavor (IMO), but melted in your mouth! he really liked the potato and bacon terrine - and their mashed potatoes (pomme puree) is light and heavenly. I ordered the elk - and found it to be fine - but nothing I'd particularly order again. I enjoyed the accompanying sauce - but thought the bacon pieces were a bit overpowering. If I were to do it again, I'd probably select the pork loin duo on the menu.

                Dessert: This was the highlight and most outstanding point in the whole meal - we ordered the chocolate molten lava cake with truffles and espresso ice cream. The ice cream didn't do anything for us - but the cake and truffles were divine.

                Service: was pleasant and on top of things, for the most part. I'm being nitpicky here - but I thought it was odd that we were served bread before water/drinks - and then not offered any more between the time we received menus, and ordered (not that i wanted any more). Our server was very pleasant and somewhat helpful - i inquired as to the size of the appetizers and couldn't get an answer that helped me decide - when they were served - they were a lot larger than what I anticipated. when i made a comment to how huge they were - the comment back was we should pace ourselves (huh??) - again, no REAL issues with service - just some very minor annoyances. oh, and when we were leaving - the valet closed the car door on my foot - not enough to bruise - but enough for me to Yelp!

                Other comments - they were out of things - no lobster available for their appetizer (due to weather issues in Maine) and they were out of macaroni & cheese. The tasting menu on the website was different from the one they were offering (the main was ostrich).

                Overall - a nice and different experience - I'm glad I did it - but can't say I would recommend it (unless someone was a huge lodge/hunting fan) and don't plan to return.

                Damage: $220-ish - pre-tip (that's including an $89 bottle of Laird Syrah).

                Thanks again for your input and suggestions.

                2 Replies
                1. re: The Oracle

                  I feel the same way. There is nothing wrong with it in particular but overall it's not a restaurant I'd rush back to. I think Josie's is far superior, especially with the game. Someone told me it's now owned by the Patina group. Is this true?

                  1. re: The Oracle

                    I've had complaints (several) about the valet service as well. Last time I mentioned it to the manager on the way out, saying, "Yannow, for a place as nice as this, and given the number of valet parking services there are in southern Cal., you might want to think about changing services." He was very apologetic, and comped the parking (don't know what else he could have done, since we were on the way out and had already paid for the meal), but something like that certainly can take the edge an otherwise extremely nice occasion.