Mountain Home Inn
810 Panoramic Hwy
Mecca is both great for a martini as well as a civilized meal.
Would I go again? Yes
Ambience: A woodsy romantic forgotten restaurant
Crowd: Locals who live nearby, and hikers
Best: Fireplace and the view
Worst: Cheesy music that wouldn't go away
Mountain Home Inn is the starting and end point for my favorite run on Mount Tamalpais, a five mile loop that let's you savor the best that the mountain trails have to offer: expansive views across the forests and valleys of Muir Woods out across to the Pacific Ocean, dappled lit trail ways that are cushioned and bouncy on the step from the fallen pine needles, noisy waterfalls and rickety bridges, and, finally, the prize at the end which is a glass of wine at The Mountain Home Inn.
Perched on the edge of Panoramic, a road that runs along a ridge of Mount Tam, Mountain Home Inn is conveniently located across from a popular parking lot where a number of trails meet. It was such a glorious February Saturday afternoon, one of those afternoons where you sit back for a moment and smugly think, Gosh, It's February and they sure aren't enjoying such fine weather today in Manhattan. It would have been criminal to have not squeezed every last moment of light out of the day, and so despite having run from Tiburon to San Francisco in the morning, a hike was in order. As long as it was followed by a lovely glass of Wine with a View at Mountain Home Inn.
And so we each enjoyed a glass of wine looking out at the sparkly orange reflections of the sunset on the East Bay windows. The Inn has a small bar, and they offer California wines only, a pleasant selection. There are about a dozen tables out on the balcony that look out over Mill Valley, Marin and towards the East Bay. The wine was a treat but it would have been even more enjoyable if the restaurant bought some heating lamps and offered some tasty treats to enjoy with the wine. Perhaps just even a plate of Marin cheeses. Anything. Peanuts?
As we got ready to leave, we walked by the dining room and peered in. For a building that has such mind-blowing views, the restaurant has no windows and is a wildly uninspiring room. But the fire was roaring as was the hunger in my belly. Despite it being a Saturday evening, they were thrilled to be able to seat us immediately, right next to the fire. Magic! And quite romantic too (I'd recommend asking for the tables near the fireplace).
The menu is a set price ($38) for three courses which certainly takes away any confusion with trying to figure out what you are going to eat. J and I both started with the Asian Pear and Green Salad which sounds terribly boring, and while there were no surprises we both agreed the greens were delicious. Other choices was a Carrot and Ginger Soup which was too reminiscent of a compulsory Home Economics class I took when I was 11, and a Goat Cheese Tort which was no doubt good but perhaps too daunting for a three course meal.
Mid-way between our slightly dull but tasty salad, we became aware of the loud bleating of R&B music which was decidedly unsettling on our ears and our appetites. Mostly because it was so out of place. We willed the music away throughout the meal but to no avail. Word up Mountain Home Inn, R&B might not be the music of choice for a dinner on Mount Tamalpais.
For mains, J had the Grilled Salmon which came with some miso aioli squirted on top and a large pile of lentils and crispy tasty Brussels sprouts. Lentils - I love lentils particularly when they're resting on a bed of bacon (lentil and bacon salad!) but there's an unfortunate trend right now to serve hearty lentils with fish in San Francisco. Anyway, J gave the fish a thumbs up, and it was indeed good. I had the Blackened Pork Chop which was very blackened and fun to eat right down to the bone. The pork chop came with rosemary fries which had potential. Except they weren't crispy! Soggy rosemary fries are enough to make anyone want to have a wobbly towards the end of a long day. Also on the side was a small pile of curly brussel kale, my favorite health food. I'd order the dish again.
For dessert, I had the Pear Crisp with Ice Cream. Very disappointing! The crisp was mildly warm at some time and the darn ice cream had no chance of melting. Sigh. I like a crisp that is burbling and where you have to rush to eat the ice cream before it all melts. No chance here. J had the Berry Sorbets which were terrific and the serving was very generous.
Great service, ok food, wonderful location. Lots of potential at this place, just a shame they don't make a few small improvements.
Susan MacTavish Best
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