It was admittedly a little tacky: the white-painted garden chairs, the twinkling lights, the purple napkins, the leftover wedding decor, and the illuminated fountain that thankfully stopped trickling early into the meal, but there’s no doubt that this spot is special. Inn of the Seventh Ray is only a 15-20 minute drive from Santa Monica, yet it feels like a whole other world. It’s calm and peaceful, it’s woodsy and not commercialized, and it’s fairly undeveloped. It’s a truly magical place, a little hippy dippy with the new age bookstore-cum-spiritual gift shop, but that only adds to its charm.
The food here is made with mostly local, organic, and sustainably raised and produced ingredients, but it’s more than just the latest hipster farm-to-table destination. Each dish is skillfully and thoughtfully prepared, concentrating on every aspect: from the texture to the taste to the presentation. The service, albeit a little slow, perhaps on purpose, is jut as thoughtful, with the waiters and waitresses telling you about each component of the dish as it’s being served, which I find to help me better appreciate and understand what I’m enjoying
I started with Maggie’s Farm Greens, a generous, airy heap of fresh baby lettuces with spiced walnuts, fig croutons, and a lemon thyme vinaigrette. The greens were very fresh, and the different flavors and textures worked superbly well together. I also had some of the Farmer’s Market Salad of heirloom tomatoes, compressed cantaloupe, olive, feta,heirloom cucumber, and apple cider vinaigrette. The components were neatly arranged on the plate, with the cucumber and cantaloupe both scooped into cute little balls, and the olives in the form of a tapenade underneath.
For my entrée I went all out and got the Charcoal Crusted Filet Mignon, which uses Creekstone Farms Natural Angus Beef. This dish is the priciest, at $44, but it was worth it. There is also a hanger steak, but that cut is known to be a bit chewy, so I figured the extra $10 isn’t much for a more nicer cut. The meat was so incredibly tender and flavorful, and not dry at all, yet not oozing with juice or blood. Their secret is cooking it sous vide first, and then finishing it off on the grill. The meat came with fresh watercress, braised baby leeks and carrots, and potato foam, which was really just whipped potatoes, but the lightest ones I’ve ever had. The sauce on the beef, which was seasoned with balsamic onion and black garlic was delicious, but a bit rich. It’s not something I’d want everyday, but this is one of those memorable dishes that one longingly looks forward to eating again in the not terribly distant future.
Aside from the meats, Inn of the Seventh Ray has fish, pasta, and even some vegan dishes. I also found out about their buffet brunch, which sounds almost as sensational as the dinner, but I’d be hard-pressed to find a dish at breakfast comparable to the decadent Filet Mignon.