New offerings at Calabasas’ Saddle Peak Lodge

Under the direction of new owner Deep Sethi and executive chef Adam Horton, they’ve now modernized the menu and installed a whiskey-focused saloon

For decades, no other restaurant in the Santa Monica Mountains has been more of a draw than Saddle Peak Lodge, but until recently the dramatic setting (formerly a brothel and hunting lodge) was the biggest draw. Sure, the restaurant has served good food over the years, operating as a rustic steakhouse with a spotlight on wild game. Under the direction of new owner Deep Sethi and executive chef Adam Horton, they’ve now modernized the menu and installed a whiskey-focused saloon—all part of an effort to reinvigorate the historic retreat.

The saloon resides on the lodge’s top floor in a room previously used for private events. Deep, who also owns Bombay Palace and Nirvana in Beverly Hills, says, “The beauty of the top floor is it’s very private and offers guests a private patio with views of the canyon. We wanted to offer an elevated experience for our guests by creating an exclusive room where guests can feel part of something special and take part in a wonderful ritual when visiting.”

Adam has broken free from the constraints of a traditional steakhouse format—no longer just offering proteins and sides. The new menu now showcases his technique and creativity in small plates and larger composed entrées, which he considers “more conducive to the eating patterns of Angelenos.” L.A. diners have become enamored with share-friendly food, and he’s found a “happy medium.”

“I slice nearly every meat now and make sure that the finished dishes are conducive to being shared by our guests,” Adam says. “Ideally if a table wants to go the shared route and, say, a table of four orders two items from ‘bites’—a handful of small and a large plates each—I think they will have a great meal while being able to sample many things that are not readily available in other L.A. restaurants. Who else is serving water buffalo, elk and emu right now?”

Amaroo Farms emu flat iron steak comes plated with cauliflower, pear, red wine, truffle and foie gras sauce. Peruvian marinated quail joins potato puree and salsa verde. Adam’s now even making pasta in-house. Cavatelli joins European sea bass, English pea pesto, roast tomatoes and boar sausage. Spaghetti “rustichella” calls for white shrimp poached in uni butter, chile flakes and garlic.

In the Whiskey Room, Adam has created dishes similar to what you’d find in the dining room but with “whiskey-oriented modulations.” For instance, he’s found creative ways to incorporate spirits from Scotland, Kentucky or Japan into sauces and marinades.

The Whiskey Room is geared toward pre-dinner cocktails, nightcaps and private events. Saddle Peak Lodge brought in vaunted whiskey aficionado Jeffery Baker from 213 Hospitality to curate both the whisky and whiskey programs. In case you’re unfamiliar with the difference, whisky comes from Scotland, while whiskey is what people call the spirit in other parts of the world.

“The magic of whiskey is that every single expression is truly unique,” Jeffrey says. “We have close to 400 different expressions starting out, and within that portfolio we have tried to showcase as many variables as possible that can influence the taste of a barrel-aged spirit. Those variables include what type of barrels were used in the maturation process and/or multiple types of barrels, the distillation method, how long a spirit has matured for, the grain recipe used for each distillate and even all the way down to the water source that is used for production. There are a multitude of variables that can influence flavor.”

He’s also created a small selection of aromatic cocktails for The Double Barrel Room like the old-fashioned, Sazerac and manhattan that “allows for the spirit to showcase itself and its versatility.” Jeffrey adds, “When juice is involved in the equation, it can tend to cover up all the nuances of a fine whisk(e)y.”

Rare bottles at Saddle Peak Lodge include Macallan 25-year-old single malt, Balvenie 30-year-old single malt, Glenfiddich 30-year Scotch, Glenlivet Pullman Series and Jack Daniel’s Sinatra 100-Year. To become a member of The Saloon, guests can buy a a bottle and leave it in a dedicated locker to enjoy during any visit to Saddle Peak Lodge.

419 Cold Canyon Rd., Calabasas, 818-222-3888