Frankie and I have visited Harbor House Restaurant before and it is on this site numerous times. Every time I go back I think I’ll just eat there and not do another write-up but the food is so good I really hate not to share the photos. We were lucky enough to dine there 2 consecutive nights so Chef Matthew Kammerer was kind to vary the menu some but other courses just need to be repeated – and you don’t mind. He continues to win awards for his culinary talents with the restaurant now having 2 Michelin stars. Their ranch is also now producing some incredible produce which he includes in the dishes. The wine program continues to evolve under the capable leadership of Wine and Beverage Director, John Miller. Both nights he managed to delight us with interesting choices from the area. The final component of the experience is the staff, which are all terrific. Friendly and knowledgeable (many of our other dining choices came from their suggestions) they make a 2-star Michelin meal feel like you’re dining in a friend’s home. The hotel it’s in, is a lovely place to stay, if you get the chance. My highest recommendation here – I’ll go again and Frankie hopes to see you there too.
July 7, 2022
I’ll post sets of photos from each night but when a course repeats I’ll post whichever has the best photo. Tonight’s wines were:
We started with a bowl of chilled fresh vegetables from the ranch in a broth of garlic scapes. It included cabbage, turnips, zucchini, and others – all blanched to perfection. Not strong flavors, just lovely bits of summer freshness with fun textures in a delicious broth, which you can drink at the end.
Rockfish that was lightly cured on kelp, was in the water 3 – 4 hours before serving – it was that fresh. It was in a Makrut lime broth with celtuce and cucumber. It had a delightfully fresh, light flavor that blended perfectly with the lime. Excellent.
Tempura fried Maitake mushroom was seasoned with espelet pepper and served with a slice of Meyer lemon to rub it on. Alongside was a dish of lace lichen noodles and a cup of Maitake broth. The succulent mushroom had a perfect crisp light coating that was well enhanced with a wipe on the lemon before eating. It was meaty and filled with umami. The lichen was delicate shreds in a tasty broth but the best broth was in a cup – a warm liquid mushroom. Delightful.
Sourdough bread and cultured butter were both seasoned with sea lettuce. The bread has an amazing crust and a chewy wonderful center. The seasoned butter was great on it but it was just fine to eat alone too.
Red abalone in sea vegetable vinegar had been farm-raised, as diving for them is currently prohibited. It was cooked in and presented on a kelp leaf with some burdock and broccoli. Alongside were some ultra-fresh peas on top of the abalone offal sauce. This abalone was absolutely tender and delicious but then so were the delicate, sweet peas. They were great with the sauce. This was the best course yet.
Barbequed kohlrabi was topped with ribbons of kohlrabi in a sauce of douglas fir oil and campfire butter. Some sunflower oil mixed in with the campfire clarified butter which gave it a creamy, cheesy essence. The raw ribbons were great with it but the barbecued slices were another level entirely. Wow.
Little Gem lettuce was topped with a butternut squash miso with sour barley. The lettuce had been grilled and seasoned with a Botero kombu and alongside were some beech mushrooms. The lettuce was tender and great with the sauce. Actually, it all combined into delicious bites of flavor and texture.
Skate that was smoked over Bay Laurel was on top of Calhikari rice with pickles on the side. This was another fish that had just been harvested 3 hours ago – a bycatch for the fisherman. The chef lightly smoked it and served it with rice that was seasoned with nettle broth. The fermented cabbage, turnip and mushroom were from their ranch and turned into pickles that gave a wonderful pungent essence to your bite. The lovely skate fish was delightful and the toothsome rice a perfect accompaniment. This was yummy.
Knight’s Valley wagyu was on Koju toast on an ume sabayon. The bit of top sirloin was from nearby Calistoga and served tartare style. The toasted bread underneath helped soak up the delicious sauce. Perfect seasonings made this another scrumptious dish.
Lamb leg, farm thinnings, ground cherry and light jus were next. The lamb leg was aged 6 weeks and served with golden berries (like gooseberries) and clippings of wood sorrel. The smaller piece was tender and good but the bigger piece was just okay. The jus was made from Morels and was nice.
Kombu ice cream was seasoned with the oil of spent coffee grounds and lavender and served on ground honeycomb candy. The ice cream was delicious and the crispy candy underneath was divine. Smooth and luscious – a winner.
Last treats were candies of anise hyssop (the ball shape – it was tart), mugwort (the trapezoid shape – it was crisp outside and sweet inside) and caramelized goat’s milk rolled in puffed buckwheat (irregular ball – a yum here, nutty and creamy). Along with this is an infusion of Douglas Fir aside a tray of grilled honey and sweet herbs to dip in and infuse the tea.
July 8, 2022
Also started with chilled vegetables from the Harbor House Ranch. Wonderful wines were:
Nightshades was a dish of grilled eggplant and cucumber covered with squash blossom leaves in tomato vinegar, all from their gardens. This was the first of the season for both eggplant and tomato. The excellent flavors worked well with the grilled accents for a wonderful blend.
We repeated the lightly cured rockfish with Makrut lime broth, also splendid and the Maitake tempura course with lace lichen and sesame. Definitely, a course to repeat – it’s yummy. Then the Sourdough bread and butter – always tasty.
Grilled daikon was seasoned with sea vegetable vinaigrette and plated with marinated burdock, broccoli and peas. This was fresh and lovely. The introduction of some pickling into the dish accentuated the other flavors nicely. Another really good one.
We again enjoyed the Barbecued kohlrabi with Douglas fir and campfire butter. I didn’t realize that the edible part of kohlrabi grows above the ground – thinking it would be below to get its white color. It was perfect with the butter and sunflower oil – an amazing flavor that worked well on the bread too. Tonight’s had a dusting of herbs.
Sprouted rye was topped with grilled zucchini and Beech mushrooms. The sauce was kombu with 2-year-aged pumpkin miso with kelp oil The sprouted rye was such fun- full of nutty flavor and neat textures. The sauce brought it all together for another yummy dish.
Bocaccio ( a type of rockfish) was smoked over bay laurel and served on calhikari rice with a side of pickles. The rice was mixed with some fermented turnip and sea lettuce. The dish was full of marvelous fresh flavors and the perfectly cooked fish and rice were an ideal textural contrast, all punctuated by the vibrant pickles. Another winner.
Knight’s Valley wagyu skirt steak was plated with some farm thinnings, ground cherry and light jus. The farm is in Sonoma and the beef was from grass-fed cattle. The beef was grilled and finished with milk of cypress and was terrific. The bit of jus to dip in was perfect to bring out the flavor of the tender, medium rare meat. It was delicious.
Amazake ice cream was on strawberry and topped with marigold. It was made from Koji rice and was sweet and smooth. The strawberry underneath was delicious as were the leaves on top.
The tea this evening was lemon verbena and came with sweet herbs and grilled honey to dip into. It is mild. The last treats were as the night before, anise hyssop, goat’s milk in puffed buckwheat and Mugwort.