The restored Log Haven residence-turned-restaurant and its luxuriant garden surroundings in Millcreek Canyon are truly inviting in any season.
The 1920s Log Haven was revived by the Provost family in 1994. In addition to the restoration of the building and grounds, Provosts recruited California Culinary Academy-trained chef David Jones, whom Bon Appetit tagged "the city's top chef."Though Log Haven is certainly a scenic wonder on the local restaurant scene, the overall menu presentation left room for improvement.
Our service, for example, began with a 25-minute wait for seating with reservations and a moderate, weekday crowd. Dining was a three-hour experience (which may be standard there to absorb the total atmosphere), and we struggled with a server who missed both an appetizer and a dessert order from our six-person group.
Tops on the innovative starter menu is a honey-glazed lavosh accompanied by the unusual red lentil dahl, one of Jones' subtle flavor surprises. Another comes in the Mandarin Duck Tacos ($9.50), crispy strips of duck in a nippy Szechwan orange sauce.
Salads arrive in petite portions ($3.75) and feature a collection of crunchy greens or a spinach focus with a pair of vinaigrette choices: balsamic or walnut huckleberry or a creamy gorgonzola topping. Larger portions, labeled composed salads, serve as a delightful summer entree. The Wonton Wrapped Prawns ($14.95) rest atop the crispy and unusual mountain broccoli shoot foundation. A Brick Grilled Chicken Caesar ($13.50) adds a distinctive twist with peas, avocado and toasty ravioli.
Our consensus entree favorite was the price whopper of the menu: Black Angus New York ($27.50). It drew raves for the tender, flavorful beef cut cooked to perfection.
Other entrees paled for a variety of reasons: the Grilled Swordfish ($24.50) lacked flavor despite a rosemary mayo glaze, the Coriander Rubbed Ahi ($24.95), enlivened by a tangy ginger-soy sauce, arrived seared to perfection, but the accompanying sticky rice rolls left a strong fishy residue behind.
Selecting from the unusual dessert listing left our group longing for another choice - a bit lighter perhaps or something more familiar to complement the entrees.
We sampled the unlikely Date Creme Brulee ( , a Bittersweet Chocolate Terrine with Roasted Bananas and a richly flavorful Belgian Chocolate Sorbet ($5.50).
Somehow, we were left with the impression that Jones' innovative talents were spread in so many directions that individual entrees lack the final gourmet punch.
Log Haven 4 miles up Millcreek Canyon (3800 South), 272-8255 Hours: 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday. Payment: All major credit cards * * * *