Harbor House Restaurant had made a couple changes since our visit last summer. Most importantly the wine list has really ramped up to include lots of French and Italian along with the large selection of Califorinia ones. It’s an exciting list and Beverage director John Miller will lend wonderful help if you need it. They also have added a pack of information cards to the table for you to take with you and learn about the details of the place. They cover the philosphy of the meal from Chef Matt Kammerer, a little history on the inn where it’s housed, about their new garden and ranch, their sustainability, cooking techniques and plateware and ceramics. For their efforts to sustainability they’ve been awarded a Michelin Green Clover designation. I can’t urge you enough to visit and enjoy a meal here!
Chilled vegetables from the Harbor House Ranch started us off. They were in a green garlic broth and contained Burdock root, broccoli, pea tendrils and cabbage. They were a real treat and the broth good enough to drink from the bowl afterwards. Excellent.
Crab custard was in a dashi alongside the crab legs painted with a fava bean miso. An infusion of the shells was in a cup to drink afterwards. The crab was sweet and wonderful and the legs so good you cracked and sucked to get every last bit. Then the flavorful broth brought it to a fabulous close. We had a moist cloth to clean up afterwards. Perfection.
Skate was presented with broth of ume and nasturtium. The poached fish was from Ft. Bragg and the dish also had some albacore mushroom, yuzu and an oolong tea seed oil dressing. The nutiness of the dressing completely brought the fish to another level of wonderful – it was amazing and the whole dish was yummy.
Red abalone with seaweed vinegar was from Monterrey Bay. They raise them in a cage there so they don’t become seal food. Cooked in a kale wrap the abalone came with a side of wakame (a species of kelp with a subtly sweet flavor) mixed with leeks. There was a chewy texture to this and lovely flavor from the vinegar and onion dressing. In another dish were sprouted cauliflower on the reduction of the offal. This was a lick-the-plate selection. Another great set of plates.
Maitake mushroom was alongside lace lichen and sesame. The tempura batter was accented with espellet pepper and a black lime was there if you wanted to add a citrus component. The yummy crispiness of the mushroom is hard to convey, but it is terrific. The lace lichen was in a broth of nori and sesame and it was also full of flavor and excellent, but I’m a sucker for these tempura maitakes – they are bites of heaven.
Sourdough bread with sea lettuce and cultured butter with nori and mushroom were next. The bread was so fresh and had a wonderful crisp crust. It went down easy.
Black cod was with pea tendrils. The lightly poached and then grilled black cod loin were positioned on top of pea tendrils in a broth of pea tendrils. The silky fish was lovely and so flavorful. The delicate vegetables really added to this delightful preparation of one of my favorite fish. Wow.
Calikari rice was topped with abalone mushroom and served alongside some pickles from the ranch. The mushroom had been poached then smoked over bay. It was full of flavor and incredibly savory. The pickles served as a quick palate cleanser afterwards.
Knight’s Valley wagyu was first served raw with koji toast and carrot miso sabayon. It was supposed to be one bite but I tried to make it two and said it was because it was big but really just wanted to savor the loveliness of it. A nice bit of garlic was in the mix and the toasted bread rich from the sauce below. This was incredible.
The second preparation was Knight’s Valley wagyu grilled with farm herbs and ground cherry. Knight’s Valley is a CA ranch that only raises a few wagyu cows which are all spoken for by high end restaurants. This bit was a bavette cooked perfectly medium rare on a sauce made from roasted bones. The tender beef was smokey and tender which was a fun contrast to the tart, fruity cherries. Another great plate.
Toasted yeast ice cream was topped with apple cider syrup. The ice cream was smooth and creamy and the syrup nicely flavored.
Infusion of Douglas Fir seasoned with grilled honey and sweet herbs came with the closing array of tidbits. They were similar to the night before but at this point I just wanted to remember the savory courses before that brought my palate such fun and joy. The sweets are good but nowhere near a match for the fine courses that proceed them.