Harbor House Restaurant (update), Elk, CA, 7/7 & 8/22

exterior –5600 CA-1, Elk, 95432

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:

wine front
wine back
wine front
wine back
Excellent Wine & Beverage Director John Miller and Frankie


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.

chilled vegetables from the Harbor House Ranch


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.

Lightly cured rockfish, makrut lime broth


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.

Maitake mushroom fried and infused, sesame
closer Maitake
closer lace lichen noodles
broth comes covered and a moist towel is for after eating
mushroom broth


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.

bread presentation
Sourdough bread and cultured butter, sea lettuce
closer bread
closer butter
Wonderful server Nicole and Frankie


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.

Red abalone, sea vegetable vinegar


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.

Frankie checked out kohlrabi
Barbequed kohlrabi, douglas fir, campfire butter


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.

Little gem lettuce, butternut squash miso, sour barley


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.

presentation of skate
Skate smoked over bay laurel


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.

Knight’s Valley wagyu
Frankie checked it out


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.

Lamb leg
Friendly Jason and Frankie


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.

Kombu ice cream
Frankie finished the bowl


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.

last treats
Anise hyssop, mugwort and goat’s milk rolled in puffed buckwheat
Infusion of Douglas Fir and sweet herbs, grilled honey


Expert kitchen chefs Marlana, Dan and Tuna met Frankie the second night


July 8, 2022

Also started with chilled vegetables from the Harbor House Ranch.  Wonderful wines were:

champagne as a welcome back starter
wine front
wine back


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.

grilled eggplant and cucumber covered with squash blossom


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.

Always happy and enthusiastic Jaclyn and Frankie


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.

Daikon, sea vegetable vinegar


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.

Barbequed kohlrabi
Sweet server Ella and Frankie


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.

Sprouted rye, zucchini, sour barley
moved around to see the rye
Frankie finished the broth


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.

Jaclyn’s presentation of Bocaccio
Bocaccio smoked over bay laurel
Frankie sniffed it
pickled vegetables


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.

Knight’s Valley wagyu, farm thinnings, ground cherry, light jus
from the side


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.

Amazake ice cream, marigold, strawberry
Lovely server Adrienne and Frankie


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.

lemon verbena tea, sweet herbs and grilled honey


Very talented Chef Matt Kammerer and Frankie

2 thoughts on “Harbor House Restaurant (update), Elk, CA, 7/7 & 8/22

    1. Thanks! I feel guilty repeating places too much but this one is so wonderful – a real favorite right now. The chef, Matt, is the one who told us about the last place I posted, Sea Pal Cove. It had amazing fried prawns with a terrific view. Hope you’ll visit Harbor House, if you haven’t already. I know you and Nancy would adore it.

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