Harbor House Inn

harbor house inn goes to the extreme of sourcing locally and is one of those special restaurants that can only exist in elk, ca. as a local chef puts it, they’re the faviken of california.

it’s located off the pch on the beautiful mendocino coast about three hours from sf and two hours from the nearest airport.

I had the opportunity to stay two nights and had five meals.

dinner 1 highlights

chilled vegetables
uni, dulse, chopped custard
fried maitake mushroom
bread (free)
barbequed kohlrabi
wild salmon

chilled vegetables from the harbor house ranch

rockfish sashimi, chrysanthemum

uni, dulse, chopped custard

maitake mushroom fried and infused

lace lichen

sourdough bread and cultured butter, sea lettuce

red abalone

barbequed kohlrabi, douglas fir, campfire butter

wild salmon smoked over bay laurel, calhikari rice, pickles

piping hot

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as david chang would say, the stunt squab is presented

quick break to watch the deer eating the produce at sunset

infusion of lemon verbena, grilled honey, sweet herbs


Nice, on my list to check out up in them parts

Gotta love the mullet

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Food: Unique, exciting, precision, incredible, and eclectic are words to come to mind. The food that are served that aren’t the typical run-of-the-mill fine dining variant. They’re hyper local and ingredient driven…IIRC, 90-95% of their ingredients are sourced within a 45 mins drive. So when the restaurant says they’re aiming to achieve a singular dining experience. I wholeheartedly agree that they’ve achieved that goal. Honestly, I can’t wait to be back!

Service: Impeccable. As far as I know, the back-of-the-house staff are full of veterans from fine dining institutions like The French Laundry, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, Masa, etc… Everyone were fun, warm, and hospitable. Each move, from setting down plates at the same time to synchronized movements of the staff opening and closing a double door that opens to the patio, were well timed and coordinated

We stayed at the “Seaview” cottage at the Harbor House Inn

View from our balcony.

Complimentary breakfast spread

Dinner time!

sergio in da house

garden cocktail

cured rockfish, zucchini, tomato
the cured rockfish had a nice chew and livened up with a piquant tomato gelee that reminds me of Hayato’s tozasu gelee.

seaweed chardonnay

fort bragg sea urchin, dulse, chopped chawanmushi
the combination of these 3 ingredients were sensational both in terms of flavor balance and that slippery smooth and creamy mouthfeel. special shoutout to the fort bragg uni that are especially briny. it’s less sweet and has a slightly firmer texture than that of the santa barbara variant.

abalone poached in sake, sauce of abalone offal
very classic japanese prep of poaching abalone here…tender as can be but not so soft that you lose that bounciness when you chew. with that said, don’t sleep on the other two rather unique elements on the dish: abalone liver sauce and that nicely julienned bundle of vegetable. The former is a buttery and sharp tasting sauce that lifts up any heaviness that there might be on the dish and the latter is an unusually crunchy and flavorful combination of veggie sticks that are either cooked, raw, or fermented.

we are instructed to take sips of this abalone poaching liquid between bites…a damn tasty liquid msg.

our server granted us some fresh seaweed sourdough when i said that i wish there’s something to mop up that delicious sauce on the plate :drooling_face:

that beautiful pull!
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yuzu spritz

squash blossom fried and infused, lace lichen, sesame

the tempura batter is incredibly delicate, crispy, and seasoned well with a hint of heat from espelette pepper but didn’t overwhelm the inherent flavor of the squash blossom one bit.

the lace lichen, slippery and springy, acts as noodle and soaked up a ton of flavor from a broth of dashi, sesame, and a touch of vinegar.

perhaps the only slight flaw of the night…this maitake-dashi broth was a touch salty to my palate

cucumber and chamomile
in the background is food reporter elena kadvany from the sfchronicle

seaweed sourdough bread, cultured better, sea lettuce
it arrived pipin’ hot. it’s possibly the best sourdough i’ve ever had. it’s moist and got a feathery soft texture that tears into wispy strands. accompanying the incredible bread are a cultured sea lettuce butter and a grilled sea lettuce butter that heightens the savoriness of each bread bite.

new potatoes, cucumber, pine oil
a classic pairing with a slight twist…this freshly dug potato, tender and unusually moist, is paired with a butter sauce and accented with a piney flavor in the form of pine oil. the fresh and heavily charred cucumber gave refreshing crunch and smokiness between bites.

corn kombucha

black cod smoked over bay laurel, sprouted rye, pickles
unctuous and perfectly flaky, this piece of black cod, has a slight hint of smoke and is paired with pleasantly chewy sprouted rye in another buttery sauce.

pickles to refresh your palate

tuber tonic

knight’s valley wagyu, taproots, tiny corn
in my mind, this plays out a bit like a shabu shabu course. it’s a welcomed change of pace that followed a fatty fish course. thinly sliced raw beef are warmed by dashi. the dash has just enough saltiness to flavor those wagyu. contrasting the marbled wagyu are pickled slices of baby corn that brightened the whole dish.

we all know what’s coming!

squab, farm thinnings, unripe blackberries

the funkiness of this aged squab reminds me very much of chinese preserved duck. in another words…delicious! it’s cooked medium rare with a relative crispy skin.

the legs of the bird are cooked in a sort of rillettes style then wrapped in a leaf like a sausage. it’s a very lovely bite.

yogurt, pickling melon, toasted rice custard
refreshing, creamy, sweet, and a hint of smoke from the toasted rice. the hint of acid and crunch of pickling melon acts as a flavor and textural counterpoint.

mushroom, chamomile, okinawa black sugar

kombu ice cream, spent coffee grounds, honeycomb, lavender
another highlight of this dinner. the creaminess of the ice cream is without question given the magic of pacojet, but the flavor of the sweet-but-not-too-sweet toasted kombu adds depth and savoriness. the honeycomb, freshly procured daily, crisp, and packed with flavor, is yet another star of the show in this dessert.

infusion of douglas fir, grilled honey, jupiter grapes, pear

taste of christmas. literally.

the grilled honey beneath the beautiful bouquet is insanely delicious. the hint of savoriness from the smoke really toned down the honey’s sweetness. it’s meant for you to stir into the douglas fir tea but i was slurping it right off the bouquet!

embered fig, umeboshi caramel, rye with rasphberry leaf, mugwort


wow! awesome report and pics.



this itinerary continues to become more and more legendary…

and this post quality!!! :exploding_head:


What costs are there on top of the $265 prepaid?

$265 exclusive of t&t.

It’s the most exciting dinner out of TFL, Cyrus, Benu, and San Ho Won on this trip.


Those drinks were all included?

na pairing $70

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Inflation. $75 now.

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brad pitt ms GIF

let’s not make this an impossible reservation before I get a chance to get my lazy ass out there.


If you stay at the inn, you’re almost guarantee to get a reservation as you get first dips before reservation opens.


so we got at least a benu post still to come!

is 265 imminently increasing, or maybe hopefully a reflection of its greater remoteness from SF, a la some of the countryside 2/3star inns in france that can be 100-200 euros cheaper than the ones in paris?


I think it’s likely to remain an easier reservation and less expensive than SF Bay Area two- and three-stars because Elk is so remote.


Yup. 3 hours drive from San Francisco or 2 hours from Healdsburg. Not an easy trip at all.


Glorious, @moonboy403!

Happy anniversary!


Splendid writeup!


Those are GREAT Photos! Happy Anniversary!


Paging @Armillaria for more HHI food pics.


Knives out… :sweat_smile: I know nothing, I just eat mushrooms