Harbor House Restaurant (update), Elk, CA., 3/24/23

Harbor House Inn and Restaurant – 5600 CA-1, Elk, CA, 95432

Harbor House Restaurant has been written up on this site numerous times and they continue to excel even with the weather challenges California has faced.  The most recent rains and wind did real damage to their ranch and all the growing produce but, other than less vegetables on the menu the food there just gets better and better.  The wine list also grows and a new beverage director will be in place very soon but in the meantime sommelier Jason is doing a fine job with new additions.  The setting is beautiful and I encourage you to stay either in one of the rooms of the Inn or the cottages on the property.  Breakfast is another fun treat.  We were thrilled to spend 2 nights and enjoy 2 dinners with Chef Matthew Kammerer and the dynamic team working at the place and I’m sure you’ll see more posts about dinners there in the future.  Put this one on your list!


view from the dining room
white wine
red wine
Frankie was surprised by the bottle shape


Tasting Menu

After a warm, moist hand towel, dinner started with a Savory infusion of sea vegetables, including nori and kombu.  The dashi broth had a glorious color with a wonderful depth of flavor that readied your palate for things to come.

moist cloth
savory infusion of sea vegetables
from the top
Frankie gave it a sniff


Cured rockfish was with hyssop (herb in the mint family) on a bit of gel. The smooth fish was further seasoned with a bit of anise vinegar and sorrel flower.   The pinkish flesh was fresh and tender and perfect with the bits of seasonings and gel.

cured rockfish


Red sea urchin was enhanced with dulse (seaweed seasoning) and presented on top of chopped custard.  The sea urchin was locally sourced from Ft. Bragg and had a wonderful flavor.  Paired with the chilled custard  it was terrific.  This was a bowl of smooth comfort.

Red sea urchin, chopped custard
Sweet server Nicole and Frankie


Dungeness crab poached in sea water was presented 2 ways.  One was the claws coated with bean miso and crab butter.  Chef Kammerer picked up some wonderful new tools in his recent trip to Japan to help get every last bit of meat out of these.  The other presentation was poached picked body meat in a creamy sauce was sweet with crab flavor and delicious.  On the side was a salad of cabbage, chrysanthemum and wakame seaweed that added a crunch to the course and a taste of the sea.

Dungeness crab
crab claws
crab on custard
Frankie marveled at the new tools


Sourdough bread came with cultured butter, both seasoned with sea lettuce.  The crusty bread had a wonderful texture both in the crust and interior.  It was good with the softened butter but fine alone and was especially good to get last bits of any remaining courses.

sourdough bread and cultured butter
bread alone
Frankie checked out the abalone butter knife rest


Abalone steamed in ash dough and offal sauce had the abalone presented and removed from its dough tableside and then taken back to the kitchen to be plated. The crust was made from ash and sand and surrounded the local abalone sourced from Monterey Bay.  The final plating included some brassica flowers and leeks with the super tender abalone.  The rich offal sauce was lovely with it but it was also fine just by itself.

Chef Marlana opening ash dough containing abalone
opening abalone
opening abalone
abalone inside a leaf
abalone steamed in ash dough


Maitake mushroom was fried and served with mushroom infusion and lace lichen.  A bit of Espelette pepper and black lemon seasoned the delicately fried mushroom and a wedge of Meyer lemon was on the side for additional seasoning.  It was absolutely delicious.  The lace lichen was surrounded by some raw lichen so you could feel how soft and tender it is before it’s cooked.  In the broth of nori and sesame it is a small bite of fun. The dashi broth was made from trimmings from the maitake.  Always a favorite course, whatever variation they put on it.

Maitake mushroom fried, infusion, lace lichen
closer mushroom
Meyer lemon
lace lichen
mushroom infusion


Barbequed celery root was served with turnip and black trumpet mushroom purée.  The celery root was covered with a sauce made from the celery root and a splash of spruce oil.  It was nicely smokey and tender.  The darkness of the purée made it less appealing but the taste was divine.  A very nice plate.

Barbequed celery root, turnip
Lovely and fun server Jaclyn and Frankie


Black cod smoked over bay laurel was on calhikari rice and served with housemade pickles.  Let me just say, I love Black Cod and this was a superb version.  A delicate sauce of leeks was on top of the fish that melted into the rice mixed with some mushrooms.  Yummy.  The wonderful texture of the rice melded perfectly with the silky fish.   A mild, subtle flavor that had great depth on the palate.  The tart flavor of the pickles was a jar but it helped sharpen the focus.

Black cod smoked over bay laurel, calhikari rice


Lamb loin, farm thinnings and jus was the last savory course.  I think they said the lamb was from Richardson Ranch in Stewarts Point, CA.  it was grilled with the smoke of cyprus.  A nasturtium leaf wrapped up a bit of lamb sausage  and both meats had the benefit of some jus from the roasted lamb mixed with some bay butter.  The lamb was a perfect medium rare and very tender.  Both versions of lamb were wonderful.

Lamb loin, jus
closer lamb
inside sausage ball


Layers of Makrut lime, passionfruit and pineapple sage were decorated with a crystallized leaf.  The layers moved from sweet to tart to sweet for a wonderful overall affect.   Something gave it a bit of texture, like balls of gel.  It was lovely.

Layers of makrut lime, passionfruit, pineapple sage
from the top


Kombu ice cream incorporated spent coffee grounds and lavender.  A nice dense texture and sweet flavor made this one a winner.

kombu ice cream, lavender


Infusion of Douglas fir was with grilled honey and sweet herbs to dip into it.  It was mild but nice.  It was served with a tray of treats – Umeboshi caramel (beige square), candy cap mushroom macaron, Pâte á Choux, grilled miso and apple cider gel (clear square), winter citrus and hojicha gel (pink).  The Pâte á Choux was filled with a bit of cream and was a favorite as was the caramel that was chewy, dense and sweet.

infusion of Douglas fir, grilled honey, herbs, final treats
Douglas fir infusion
final treats
inside Pâte á Choux


Super talented Chef Matt Kammerer and Frankie


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