All good things must come to an end, or so the saying goes. Adam Horton has spent the last seven years constructing and composing the menu at Saddle Peak Lodge and it was a strong run. In his last couple weeks (his last night at Saddle Pead is February 14th), he is "playing," with ingredients that made him well-known at Saddle Peak, like New Zealand Elk Loin, but he is also incorporating new flavors, like aji amarillo chili spice, giving a peak of what's to come.
Once he returns from Southeast Asia, Horton will be running the kitchen at Raphael in Studio City. Although the cuisine will differ greatly from Saddle Peak Lodge, Horton's passion and dedication will remain the same.
In a last hurrah so to speak, Horton presented a tasting menu to us last night that was the best of where he's been and of where he's going.
The evening started with homemade ciabatta bread and a delicious puree of sweet corn. It was velvety, rich and smooth. From there things got interesting. We were presented with an egg with osteria beluga caviar. Few things pair as well as eggs and caviar. The saltiness of the caviar perfectly cuts the richness of the egg.
Our next course was a show stopper: albacore sashimi with apples, yuzu and candied ginger. It was vibrant for the eye and the palate. The freshness of the fish was elevated with the flavors from the sweet candied ginger and bitter yuzu. It was delicious.
Scallops came out delicately and uniformly sliced with fried yams and aji amarillo chili pepper. The spice was subtle at first but left a nice heat in your mouth. It was surprising and delightful.
I am not usually a fan of pate but pork pate on brioche Vietnamese style had me reconsidering. It was served with water lettuce, pickled vegetables and nuoc cham, a common Vietnamese dipping sauce. I loved this dish.
Wild mushroom agnolotti is a staple on the Saddle Peak menu for vegetarians and carnivores alike. It's incredibly rich as it's made with roasted wild mushrooms, Perigord truffle butter and topped with parmesan cheese. Chef Horton shaved some beautiful Perigords directly on top of the dish as well.
Braised Pork cheek was another one of my favorites and something I'd love to have again. It was served on a bed of brown butter pomme pure with a leek soubise and carrots. Fresh herbs added freshness to an otherwise very heavy dish.
New Zealand Elk is usually my favorite dish at Saddle Peak. The ingredient speaks for itself. The meat is the most tender red meat I have ever come acoss. The flavor is slightly gamey but not overwhelming. It's prepared with celery root and sweet potatoe puree with a bit of bacon and a chaucer sauce. The bacon (although perfectly crispy), slightly overshadowed that delicately game flavor that makes this meat so wonderful. Regardless, this dish is fantastic and I practically licked the plate.
Kasra Ajdari is saying "sayonara" along with Chef Horton and will be joining him on his next venture. For someone who has been working as a pastry chef for about a year, I must say I was blown away by his incredibly unique texture and flavor combinations.
The first dessert was a flan with condensed milk ice cream, chocolate puree, spiced yogurt, a candied red pepper tuille and caramelized pistachios. There were so many components, yet they were all married in a way that the flavors seemed simple and fresh. I don't usually like flan but I finished the entire thing!
And of course no meal is complete without some chocolate. A chocolate tart with chocolate sorbet and white chocolate pudding was perfect. The white chocolate pudding made the dish. It was topped with a bit of tahini as Ajdari obviously likes to play with savory spices and flavors in his desserts, and I must say they work quite well.
I am excited of what's to come from these dedicated chefs! Stay tunned...
Saddle Peak Lodge 419 Cold Canyon Rd. (818) 222-3888