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Most established restaurants have a taste of good food, ambiance and location. And some, like the Inn of the Seventh Ray, have large portions of all three, and a memorable name to boot.
Let’s start with the location. The Seventh Ray is located in Topanga Canyon, about 8 miles south of the 101 Freeway near Woodland Hills. To get there from the Valley, a friend and I drove up and down winding and rustic Topanga Canyon Blvd through rolling hills and past large hidden homes. Along the way, we were rewarded with great city views and a look inside the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains.
The 20-minute scenic trek from the freeway to the restaurant ended when we turned onto tiny Topanga Canyon Rd and parked beneath a bunch of shade trees. The trip was well worth it. For some reason it put us in the mood for creative, eclectic food, with a tribute to nature. And that is just what we found – and more.
The sprawling restaurant property sits beside a flowing stream, on a site that was once a mountain retreat in the 1930’s, and then a Four Square Gospel church, a garage, a gas station and auto junk yard. But then something wonderful happened: the property was purchased by its present owners and restored to its original natural beauty. Chef Bradley Miller was then hired to create a sacred place for sustainable food practices and delicious farm-to-table California cuisine.
“We believe in giving you the purest of nature’s foods, energized as a gift from the sun with a dash of esoteric food knowledge and ancient mystery school wisdom tossed in for your seasoning and pleasure,” says the Inn’s website.
I read this quote before my recent visit to Seventh Ray and I found it a bit flowery for me. But after the incredible meal we had, the words somehow came to life, in a spiritually scrumptious, filling kind of way.
Our dinner began in a romantic outside setting, beside a large white fountain and the aforementioned flowing stream. We then met Kat our server and culinary guide, who gave us menu suggestions throughout, and who made a great evening even better. Next we ordered a glass of red wine and a few unique and tasty appetizers, including Potato & Egg Jar dish, with local Topanga egg, truffle potato foam and toasted bread crumbs. Served in an old-fashioned glass jar, this dish was as surprising as it was tasty.
We followed this with an awesome smoked yellowtail spread served in a charming old-fashioned fish can, with a mix of radish, red onion, celery, crostini and a tiny Tabasco pipette. Our last appetizer was Ahi tuna ribbons with avocado yuzu, ponzu gel, nori and pickled leeks.
While the fountain trickled and frogs and birds sang in the distance, we moved on to a wonderful sweet pea risotto, with smoked corn, chantrelles, mushrooms, goat cheese and truffles. And then came one of my new favorite appetizers: Niman Ranch Pork Belly and Curi Squash Puree, with smoked scallop mousse, anise cracker and Vermont maple syrup. This creation was beautifully plated and sinfully delectable.
For a main course I devoured a tender and juicy prime hanger steak, with huitlacoche potato, mushrooms, duck bacon, Napa cabbage slaw and Dijon yogurt. This steak was crazy good and is worth driving back for. My friend went with the charcoal crusted filet mignon, with watercress, baby leeks, carrots and black garlic potato foam.
While enjoying our steaks, I smiled and waved to Larry King from CNN fame, who was sitting a few tables away from us. I even posed for a picture with him and his friends, although they didn’t know it because I was about 10 ft behind.
We concluded our dinner with milk chocolate pudding with cinnamon caramel, chocolate soil, brulee banana, meringue and espresso ice cream.
The Inn of the Seventh Ray is located at 128 Old Topanga Canyon Rd, Topanga, CA 90290. For more information, call 310.455.1311 or visit: www.innoftheseventhray.com.
-Photo and story by Greg Aragon