On Saturday the 24th, my sister who lives in Calabasas and appreciates fine dining, and I dined at Brian Ayer's Mountain Restaurant. Ayers is Cordon Bleu trained and features "slow food" at his upscale but affordable eatery. Everything at the Mountain is prepared from scratch. "You won't find a can opener or a microwave here," said Ayers who, along with wife Courtney and an accomplished waitstaff, provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere to complement their very fine cuisine.
Before detailing what for both of us was one of our finest meals, here or anywhere, I'll add that we took a great deal of food home. Portions at the Mountain are generous. It is one of those places you go anticipating each entree, each side, each dessert, each bite and leave wishing you had room for and could have eaten more.
Maureen started with Mountain's signature shaved celeriac, fennel and green bean salad with horseradish dressing. I had the heirloom tomato salad with toasted pine nuts, apple balsamic reduction, sheep's milk feta and basil. We shared. For me, the heirloom tomato salad was one of the best food experiences I've had. The apple balsamic reduction perfectly complemented the already lucious tomatoes.
Each of us had a special entree for the night - Maureen had a wonderful halibut and I had venison, both beautifully prepared and presented. My sister thought, from prior experiences that she would not like the venison (too gamey she thought) but after sampling, loved Brian's venison version.
We ordered two sides friends had recommended we try - the organic peas with brown onion gravy (great) and the macaroni and cheese made with aged cheddar and gruyere cheese. Now I am a macaroni and cheese fan. I'll admit to even liking, as most cash strapped college students might admit, Kraft macaroni and cheese. Having said that, Brian's mac and cheese set a new bar - not heavy, wonderfully light, and extraordinarily flavorful. The best!!!
And, as if we weren't already bursting, I insisted on ordering the organic apple pie with vanilla double cream. Brilliant!!!
Salads were $7; entrees generally range from $18 to $28 (there is a Thursday evening local special for $16 that is a meal in itself).
Although the Mountain has been doing well, as well it should, Brian and Courtney are a bit worried about the coming winter and whether business will be sufficient to support the kind of dining experience they provide.
If you care about this restaurant and these good folks who have chosen Idyllwild for their venture, please support them as well as you can throughout the winter. We and they deserve that Mountain be successful.