Originally created in upper Millcreek Canyon as a log hideaway anniversary gift for his wife in 1920 by steel baron L.F. Rains, today Log Haven is a breathtaking, one-of-a-kind restaurant with cuisine that hits the high notes of the restaurant’s superb ambiance, service, and the natural beauty that surrounds it. In November Chef Dave Jones launched his new winter menu and Log Haven also introduced a new signature wine, called Cygnet. I stopped in to try out some of Dave’s new dishes and was, as always, impressed by his creativity and ability to successfully marry sometimes unexpected flavors and ingredients.
One such example is a new “Shared Plate” item on the menu, grilled quail. That the grilled quail – a gluten free dish – comes with tzatziki sauce, I thought to be a bit odd. Tzatziki with lamb, yes. But with quail? Well, I shouldn’t second guess a chef as savvy as Dave Jones because the slight tang of tzatziki is a perfect foil for the grilled quail, which comes to table on a bed of “smashed” Yukon gold potatoes and garnished with pomegranate seeds, snipped chives, and pistachios. It’s a dish that’s as beautiful tasting as it looks.
All three of the salads on Log Haven’s dinner menu are new this season. There’s a twist on the classic Caesar that Log Haven used to serve: this one is mixed chicories and romaine salad with parmesan and toasted focaccia croutons. Also new is a mixed greens salad with Cestelvetrano olives, pickled onions, roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic vinaigrette. And finally, my favorite: a new arugula and carrot salad with smoked almonds, shaved cheddar cheese, dried cherries, and mustard vinaigrette.
Log Haven’s wine list is an exceptional one that has garnered numerous awards from Wine Spectator and others. Last month the restaurant introduced its new signature wine: 2019 Cygnet.Why Cygnet? Well, for the past year or so, Log Haven has had houseguests: a bevy of White Tundra Swans who have made the large pond on the Log Haven property their temporary – or maybe permanent? – home. Cygnet is the term for young swans, as well as the new Log Haven wine. (Yes, I had to Google Cygnet.)
Created by winemaker Rick Longoria, and named by General Manager Ian Campbell after the aforementioned White Tundra Swans at Log Haven’s pond, this red blend comes from three vineyards in Santa Barbara County. A blend of 38% Cabernet Franc, 30% Syrah, 22% Petit Verdot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is produced exclusively for Log Haven, with a label design by OED Visionary Creative. Cygnet is currently available on the Log Haven wine list for $87/bottle or $19/glass.
There are a number of tantalizing new entrees on Log Haven’s winter menu, including a unique, eye-popping pork chop dish that was created by Sous Chef Todd Hoffee . It’s a grilled, bone-in Duroc pork chop – thick and juicy – served atop a queso fresco polenta cake with grilled pineapple salsa, avocado verde, fried tortilla strips, and chili broth. I love the way that Dave, Todd and the kitchen team at Log Haven often incorporate their knowledge of Latin American and Asian ingredients and techniques to enliven otherwise potentially humdrum foods like a pork chop. This is a great example of that creativity.
Fish lovers such as my wife are certain to be tempted by Chef Jones’ delightful new salmon dish. It is a maple-pecan glazed salmon fillet served with butternut squash-leek veloute sauce, crispy wild rice, port-infused cranberries, and creme fraiche. Simply put, it’s a dazzling dish.
Vegetarians and meat eaters alike will love the rich and hearty flavors of Log Haven’s new roasted Hen of the Wood Mushroom dish with pureed potato and eggplant, Calabrian chili to give it some zest, and airy ricotta dumplings, all bathed in a marvelous Madeira-mushroom broth.
My favorite new Log Haven entree is a slight spin on classic steak au poivre. In this case, it’s a bison steak au poivre – beautifully cooked to medium-rare in my case – served with charred Brussels sprouts, housemade pommes frites, and truffle aioli for dipping on the side. Once you taste this version of steak au poivre, you might never go back to beef!
I suspect Chef Jones’ new winter menu is going to be a big hit with loyal Log Haven customers as well as new guests. But, don’t worry: Many of your favorites are still on the menu as well – dishes like the popular Alpine Nachos, Tuna Tartare, Korean Fried Cauliflower, Porcini-crusted Chicken Breast, and Grilled Elk New York Strip are still available, along with tried and tested desserts like the fabulous Frozen Coconut-Banana Souffle and the Chocolate Ganache Tart. Log Haven is always a popular dining destination, and that’s especially true during the holidays. So, I suggest making reservations early if you’re looking to enjoy Chef Jones’ new dinner menu items or indulge in the older ones.
Photos by Ted Scheffler & Faith Scheffler
Culinary quote of the week:
“Dining is and always was a great artistic opportunity.” — Frank Lloyd Wright
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THIS CONTENT IS FROM UTAH BITES NEWSLETTER.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.