Harbor House Restaurant, Elk, CA., 3/12/22

Harbor House building – 5600 CA-1, Elk, CA 95432

Frankie and I last visited the Harbor House Restaurant in Aug of 2021 and they were as pleased to welcome us back as we were to be there.  The 2 star Michelin Restaurant is run by Chef Matthew Kammerer in an inn built in 1916 by the Goodyear Lumber Company, to showcase their redwood empire.  They offer a tasting menu only that is determined by what is seasonally and sustainably available.  They have started a ranch/garden from which that bounty is now adding to their quality offerings.  Courses are thought out in detail but not overwrought with tweezer and squirt bottle decorating.  Many of their serving pieces are made by local artisans that add plenty of visual enhancements.  Service is top quality as is the view of the coast from the dining room.  This place is surely destined for a third star so book your reservation while you can still get in and if you can splurge for a room at the inn.  The breakfast the kitchen puts out for you the morning after is icing on the cake. We were lucky enough to get 2 nights there, so look for another array of lovely dishes from Chef Kammerer in a few days.

dining room
from the other end
view out the window
red wine
white wine
Frankie explored the table


Chilled vegetables from the Harbor House Ranch included burdock root, pea tendrils, broccolini, little cabbages.  They were presented in  a green garlic broth.  This was a bowl of fresh, tender vegetables that were all wonderful both is taste and texture.

Chilled vegetables from the Harbor House Ranch


The whole crab was Dungeness crab in two ways.  The body meat was enhanced with some Douglas Fir gel and the claws were seasoned with a fava miso.  Alongside was a mug of crab broth made from the shells and seasoned with crab butter.   Each part was cooked optimally for doneness and produced excellent flavorful results.  They brought a moist towel to clean your hands afterwards.

The whole crab
Frankie wanted the body meat
to clean up


Sea Urchin custard with yuzu was decorated with iceplant flower petals.  The yuzu added a citrus component to the totally smooth custard.  The urchin was Red sea urchin with a milder flavor that blended so well.  Another winner.

Frankie explored the container
Sea Urchin custard with yuzu


Blue Rockfish with a broth of ume and nasturtium had been cured on kelp.  The raw fish was accented with an abalone mushroom and arugula flowers.  The greens in the dish had a lovely texture and good contrast to the silky fish and mushrooms.  This was another great dish.

Blue Rockfish with a broth of ume and nasturtium


Red abalone from Monterray was roasted in kelp and served with seaweed vinegar with onion.   The abalone had a good chew to the meat and worked great with the vinegrette and onion.   Alongside was a dish of delicate little cauliflower bits sitting on gel made from the offal of the abalone.  This was an amazing combination.  If I’d had a spoon I would have scooped up every bit of this one.

Red abalone


Tempura Maitake mushrooms were with a combination of lace lichen and sesame.  The perfectly fried mushrooms burst with flavor when you bit into them and along with the crisp coating it was an exquisite bite.  There was a slice of Meyer lemon to squeeze on it but I didn’t want to dilute this flavor with anything.  The lace lichen was fine as strands of hair that was beautifully seasoned with dashi.  It provided another wonderful taste and texture to this course.

Tempura Maitake mushrooms, lace lichen and sesame


Sourdough bread with sea lettuce was with cultured butter seasoned with nori and porcini mushrooms.  The bread was lovely with a crisp crust and a airy yet doughy interior.  It was great alone but I loved the mushroom flavor added by the butter.

Sourdough bread with sea lettuce, cultured butter with nori and porcini mushrooms
Frankie tried out the butter


Pacific Gold oysters were with smoked sunchoke and sprouted ryeberries.  The Morrow Bay oysters were briny and flavorful.  The rye berries added a fun texture to the creamy sauce that contained it all.

Pacific Gold oysters, sunchoke and sprouted ryeberries


Black cod smoked over bay laurel was on top of calikari rice and trumpet mushrooms and celery root.  A few pickled vegetables were on the side to cleanse the palate afterwards.  The silky fish went perfectly with the hearty rice mixture.  It was a lovely dish.

Chef Kammerer presents the next course
Black cod smoked over bay laurel, calikari rice, trumpet mushrooms and celery root
pickled vegetables


Devil’s Gulch squab was with farm herbs and ground smoked cherries.  The squab had been aged 2 weeks and cooked with hot oil on the skin and enhanced with a sauce made from squab.  The smoked cherries were a ‘wasabi’ ingredient and the greens were from arugula plants. The totally tender meat was nicely rare with not a bit of liver flavor.  The yummy sauce was  also good with the sweet cherries that were filled with smoky, fruity flavor.  This was a wonderful course.

presentation of squab
Frankie guarded the knife
Devil’s Gulch squab with farm herbs and ground smoked cherries


Candy cap mushroom ice cream was accented with bee pollen and honey comb.  A maple syrup-like flavor surrounded the crunchy bits and was an excellent contrast to the smooth mushroomy ice cream.  Fun!

Candy cap mushroom ice cream, bee pollen and honey comb
Frankie liked it


The last treats come as a number of bites presented all together.  An infusion of Douglas Fir was to be sweetened with grilled honey and sweet herbs.  The mild infusion becomes sweet from the grilled honey on the herb bouquet.

last treats

My favorite was the custard flavored with caramel and crispy buckwheat.  It was a delightful mix of textures and flavors.  It also had a bit of Makrut (or Kiffir) lime for extra fragrance.

makrut lime, caramel, buckwheat

Battera kombu (thin kombu used for making sushi) and hojicha (Japanese green tea) combined to make a fun bite with a super thin crisp layer filled with yumminess.  Probably my second favorite.

Battera kombu

Passionfruit and amazake (traditional Japanese sweet drink made with fermented rice) were made into a tart bite.

Passionfruit and amazake

Buddha’s Hand (citrus like lemon) had an anise flavor and was a nice tart/ sweetened bite.

Buddha’s Hand


Night’s Menu


Chef Matt Kammerer and Frankie


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