Whole Life Magazine

April/May 2013

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eat here now taste of health Inn of the 7th ray A new chef and updated menu reinvent lA's most romantic restaurant By Abigail lewis T he Inn of the 7th Ray restaurant in Topanga Canyon is as much magical adventure as ine dining. As you approach the entrance you can either veer left for the Spiral Staircase bookstore with its ine selection of esoteric books and unique gifts, or right for the restaurant. A hostess leads you down curving stone steps and into a fantasy garden illuminated by thousands of white fairy lights. A burbling fountain strewn with rose petals is surrounded by well-spaced tables, and seasonally, a stream meanders along the far edge. The night air may be chilly, but abundant heaters assure you'll be comfortable, although if you have any doubts, an indoor dining room with a dancing ire beckons you to its cozy warmth. The setting alone has put it in high demand for weddings and celebrations for 37 years, and now the food has caught up with the ambience. 20 ToH_02.indd 20 than normal cooking time—up to 72 hours—at an even, regulated low temperature. The result is that even meats, such as free-range, organic chicken and beef, have a tenderness you just have to taste to believe. There are also plenty of vegan selections on the menu, and a vegetarian tasting menu features among its six courses Roasted Beets & Goat Cheese Foam, and Sweet Pea Risotto with local chanterelles and shimeji mushrooms. I'd have loved a fresh fruit tart for dessert, but happily shared a creamy Vermont maple cheesecake, subtly sweetened and served with champagne macerated berries. Chocolate pudding's gelatinous texture was not much to my liking, but espresso ice cream and brulée bananas accompanying it were perfect. It's dificult to go wrong with the Inn's wine list, with all bottles clearly marked as sustainable, organic or biodynamic. But squeezed-to-order fruit juices are so lavorful that this is one time you may prefer to be the designated driver. Either way, you'll go home happy. 128 Old Topanga Canyon Rd., Topanga 90290. Open every day for lunch or brunch and dinner. www.innoftheseventhray.com Photo: Jared Iorio The Inn, as fans affectionately refer to it, has been a beacon of healthy eating—and spiritual awareness—for decades. It was rumored to have been Aimee Semple McPherson's private mountain retreat in the 1930s, later becoming the site of Topanga's irst church, a Four Square Gospel church. Several incarnations later it was renamed for the occult theosophical concept of the seventh ray, irst present by H. P Blavatsky and related to metaphysical healing. . When it was founded in 1975, the Inn offered tasty, earthy cuisine and a menu packed with metaphysical references. It has retained its outstanding ambience and emphasis on health, but the menu introduced by chef Bradley Miller, with his 5-star and Michelin-starred Patina pedigree, has been a game changer. The cuisine is still organic, local and healthful, but it's also subtle, sophisticated and superb. Over two different evenings we sampled a number of tantalizing regular menu items, as well as a holiday special. The tasting menu, offered in vegetarian or omnivore, is also well worth its not-insubstantial pricetag. Ever since getting closed out of Spain's El Bulli, birthplace of the foam trend, I'd been infatuated with this delicate way of preparing food, so the Potato & Egg Jar, with trufle potato foam, was a must; it may sound like breakfast but is more like a lovely apéritif. Smoked Yellowtail spread was delicious and we loved the Tabasco pipette that allowed us to adjust the heat to taste. Osetra Caviar Blini with vodka–cured salmon and crème fraiche was a Valentine's special and not part of the tasting menu, but maybe it should be; we could have popped in another dozen quite happily. While we were pleased to discover a tasty and unusual treatment for salmon—served with squid ink arancini and shiso emulsion—it was the line-caught John Dory with braised white beans and roasted mushrooms that stole the show. Roasted garlic & shallot emulsion with hints of tamarind gave the buttery ish a fully satisfying lavor to match its unique texture. That buttery texture is apparent even in foods in which you wouldn't expect to ind it, because Chef Miller espouses the sous vide process—French for "under vacuum," a cooking method that seals food in airtight plastic bags in a water bath for longer wholelifetimesmagazine.com 3/26/13 5:44 PM

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