In Review

Lodge Restaurant at Carmel Valley Ranch

2 out of 5 stars
2 out of 5 stars - 'Boohoo'
Carmel Valley Ranch, One Old Ranch Road Carmel, California 93923
Review by Loni Stark
Lodge Restaurant at Carmel Valley Ranch
Nice selection of wines by the 1/2 bottle. Perfect for a dinner for two. We selected a 2009 WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Noir from Oregon. It was one of the most enjoyable parts of the meal. Retails for $28/750 ml. 4,400 cases were produced.

After a relaxing day hiking the grounds and exploring the organic vegetable gardens at Carmel Valley Ranch, Clint and I decided to make reservations at the onsite restaurant, The Lodge.

I am usually skeptical of hotel restaurants, generally going to them only during business trips when the thought of rolling into bed after the meal is most appealing. However, on this retreat from the bustle of Silicon Valley, we had enjoyed everything else about the ranch and wanted to stay on the beautiful grounds, close to our cottage room. Also, while I was coming back from yoga class on the Ranch, I shared a complimentary shuttle with another resort guest who also recommended this restaurant. Okay then, I was opened to be happily proven wrong!

Below is a play-by-play photo journal of what we ate and thought.

The Stark Insider verdict? Overall, we enjoyed both our salads (heirloom tomato and beet) as well as the wine and views. Alas, the main courses were a disappointment. We so wanted to heart this place. Everything sounded so good on the menu and the rest of the resort is the perfect weekend getaway. Yet to stay true to you dear reader, I would have to recommend you explore other dining options.

P.S. The S’mores served every night by the outdoor fire is a not-to-be-missed treat! Save some room for this All-American sweet nostalgia après dinner.

Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad
This was my favorite dish of the evening at the Lodge Restaurant. It was heirloom tomatoes (not from the onsite garden since the tomatoes were not ripe yet), burrata (like mozzarella but so much more interesting), and a few leaves of basil (from the onsite garden). Drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. With fresh, quality ingredients, this dish is fool proof.
Carmel Valley Ranch Honey-Chile Chicken Wings
Carmel Valley Ranch Honey-Chile Chicken Wings. Clint ordered this after being told by our waiter that it was a featured dish in "Food & Wine" magazine. After much anticipation, we were less than impressed with this appetizer. It was rubbery. In fairness, when we told the waiter about the issue, they did come back and offer to replace it with another appetizer. The sauce on the chicken was nice, it may have just been a bad batch.
Swank Farms Organic Beet Salad
Swank Farms Organic Beet Salad (Lola Rosa Baby Lettuce, Blood Orange, Shaved Fennel, Feta Cheese, Olive Oil Crouton). This is the appetizer we substituted for the chicken wings. We were very happy with this dish. Beet and goat cheese is just a classic. Chef Tim Wood adds a citrus pop and a nice crunch with blood oranges and fennel. The croutons were good, though a little out of place in this dish. If you plan to order a meat dish for your main course, the beet or tomato salad would be a nice refreshing start.
Salmon and potato gnocchi.
Salmon and potato gnocchi. The gnocchi was the star of my main course. They were light and delicate with a golden brown crust to them gently resting in a butter sauce. I was glad I had hiked during the day to relieve some of the guilt as I kept popping these pillows of joy into my mouth. The salmon, on the other hand, was overcooked. I like my salmon medium rare in the center so the flesh doesn't become dry. Sometimes I'll tell the waiter to make sure the fish is not overcooked. However, other times I think doing so would insult the chef and restaurant that I would assume they would overcook fish. In a moment of weakness during the ordering process, I didn't mention this to the waiter. I should have.
Natural New York Steak
Natural New York Steak (Oven Roasted Garlic, Root Vegetables Puree, Blue Lake Green Beans, Red Wine Sauce). According to my meat-loving spouse this was an average New York Steak experience. The steak seemed to have above average grizzle in it. Clint also ordered some horseradish that he didn't receive until half way through his meal. There apparently had been a mix-up of some sort.
View from Lodge Restaurant
Beautiful view from our table at Lodge Restaurant overlooking the mature trees and a newly planted vineyard on site. To the right there is a picturesque area for weddings. We watched the sun set during our dinner. One less than pleasant thing that did happen was the staff tried to close the drapes on this view twice during our dinner because a family behind us complained about the sun. It was an awkward situation to have to tell the staff that we had reserved the seat next to a window so we could enjoy the views - and not look into a set of drapes. It would have been more appropriate to have reseated the family in a better location. Plenty of areas in the restaurant not close to the windows.

Loni Stark
Loni Stark is an artist at Atelier Stark, self-professed foodie, and adventure travel seeker who has a lifelong passion for technology’s impact on business and creativity. She collaborates with Clinton Stark on video projects for Atelier Stark Films. It’s been said her laugh can be heard from San Jose all the way up to the Golden Gate Bridge. She makes no claims to super powers, although sushi is definitely her Kryptonite.