Idyllwild is a very small, quaint mountain community located in Southern California. Most of us who live here are acquainted with each other. It is not a very well known place, but for those who are aware of it, it is a very desirable place to visit. It is definitely labeled as a tourist town. Those of us who do live here are proud to call ourselves residents and many of us have been here for most, if not all of our lives.
While it may be a small town, there are quite a few restaurants to choose from, as eating out is one of the popular things to do when you visit here.
Idyllwild is the epitome of romance; therefore, romantic, classy restaurants are our forte. There are 3 restaurants I have chosen that completely take the cake if your mission is a perfectly romantic evening, with a delectable, mouthwatering menu to choose from. These places have it all to offer: A peaceful, serene environment, impeccably romantic ambience, soft music (and, in some cases, live music), remarkable, top of the line food, irresistible beers, wines and cocktails, and class A service to boot.
The Mountain Restaurant is a VERY high-end restaurant with an über-classy, unique menu. It is easily accessible and easy to find as it is right on the highway that you take to get into Idyllwild. The prices are very fair considering the type of food they have to offer. The building is adorable, made of red brick that has a sort of white-washed look to it. When you go inside, in front of you on the right is a beautiful, smooth, granite-type bar. To the left you see a big, open dining room, craftily decorated with tables similar to the bar. There are beams hanging only about 5 feet above the tables with dimmable lights attached to them. Ceiling fans hang low and dot the room. Elegant curtains hanging in large windows surround the dining area, and pinecones placed neatly on a shelf just below the ceiling surround the entirety of it. Each of the tables is set with two wine glasses and its own candle for romantic ambience.
Mountain refers to itself as a “slow food” restaurant, so your experience here is bound to be relaxed, leisurely, elegant and certainly, very romantic. What is romance without a good bottle of wine? Start your experience here with a bottle of wine from their generous selection; you even get half price on your bottle if you visit here on a Thursday!
Before you decide on your entree, order one of their unique appetizers. Some of your options consist of: slow-roasted Kurobuta pork belly with fennel seed, caramelized onions, sautéed apples and calvados sauce. You may instead prefer the fresh made angel hair pasta with Manila clam and sautéed bay scallop sauce, basil pesto and chorizo oil. Or you may prefer one of the many other options. Appetizers range in price from $8.00 to $11.00.
Now it is time to choose your entree. Mountain’s chef has been cooking professionally for twenty years. He graduated from the acclaimed culinary school Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France, and has worked in several fine dining establishments throughout the U.S., as well as Europe and Australia. So be sure and choose wisely as you know everything is utterly delicious!
On Monday nights they have an incredibly well-priced two course special that varies every week. Some of the entrees you may choose from are: Grilled, grass-fed beef tenderloin with gruyere cheese potato gratin, roasted broccoli rabe, red wine caramelized shallot and bone marrow sauce, served with freshly grated horseradish. Another great choice would be the crispy skin, wild, line-caught striped bass with rock shrimp dumplings, served over caramelized fennel and pea tendrils with a bouillabaisse sauce. There are many other entree choices as well. Mountain has a base menu and a daily changing menu also. Entrees range in price from $21.00 to $33.00.
Now if you aren’t too stuffed from your appetizer and entree, you can test out one of Mountain’s irresistible homemade desserts. They are $8.00 and you can opt for a strawberry shortcake with whipped mascarpone, vanilla and jasmine crème brûlée, or one of their various other desserts.
The Mountain Restaurant made the list because it definitely has to offer everything one could ask for a romantic evening and meal; ambrosial food, romantic ambience, beautiful, serene surroundings and even good prices for icing on the cake.
Another comparable option is The Creek House. The Creek House is a charming little restaurant located deeper into town. To be more specific, on North Circle Dr. One of the most appealing qualities of this restaurant is that it is located creek side, hence the name. You can choose to dine indoors in their elegant, sophisticated dining room (which has a bar, television and fireplace), or opt for the creek side patio and enjoy the picturesque sights and ear pleasing sounds that Mother Nature has to offer. The sounds of the running creek, trees rustling when a light breeze hits them, the sweet song of the many varieties of birds we have here, as well as the other critters scampering throughout the forest are sure to set the mood. At night, if you’re fortunate enough, you may even catch a glimpse of a deer trotting by.
You may want to start off your evening with a good glass of wine, one of Creek House’s signature cocktails or choose from the generous selection of microbrews, domestic or imported bottled beers.
Appetizers and side dishes range in price from $2.50 to $16.95. Creek House is unique in that it has a salad bar, which you can add to your meal, or even have as your entree. You can also add a bowl of soup to your salad bar. Appetizers consist, in part, of: Steamed or grilled artichoke, Cajun shrimp and sautéed mushrooms. There are also quite a few other choices.
Entrees range in price from $16.95 to $46.95. Some items you can choose from are: The 13 oz. Rib Eye, pork Baby Back ribs, Herb roasted chicken, King crab legs and an 8 oz. Top Sirloin. These are only a few of the many options on their menu. They also have a daily special that is always something tempting and delicious. Seafood entrees are served with vegetables and rice pilaf. All other entrees are served with vegetables and baked potato, or potatoes du jour.
The Creek House made my list because it has a great variety of foods to choose from; from timeless comfort foods to more on the fancy side. There is romance wherever you look, whether you choose to sit inside and set the mood next to the fireplace, under dimmed lighting with some candlelight; or outside next to the creek under the stars, soaking up the beauty that nature has to offer.
The last restaurant I have chosen for this list, and my own personal favorite, is Cafe Aroma. Cafe Aroma offers traditional Italian dishes, as well as classic Italian recipes with French, Nuevo Latino and Asian twists for a new, unique spin.
The Cafe offers the best of both worlds. It is unarguably THE local “hot spot”; therefore, you can find a lot of action here. However, on the other hand, it offers peace and privacy in other areas of the restaurant, if you would rather spend time with your partner in a quieter environment, where you can be more alone. Cafe Aroma is located on North Circle Dr., the same as the aforementioned Creek House. You will run into Cafe Aroma before Creek House when you are coming up this road. It is in a great location, very easy to find, impossible to miss.
They are open 7 days from 7am to 10pm, but are closed from 4-5pm to prepare for dinner. Reservations are highly recommended here as this is a very busy place. There are 2 spacious indoor dining areas, as well as a very large patio seating area which offers free wireless Internet.
As far as drinks, they offer beer, a very extensive wine list (which is constantly being updated so as to provide good pairings), and while they don’t have a full bar, they carry a liquor of lower percentage in order to be able to serve cocktails as well.
There is eye-pleasing fine art on display throughout the restaurant for your enjoyment. It is also available for purchase. If you enjoy live music, this is a great place for you to be. There is such a variety of genres that there is always something to appeal to everyone. Everything from the traditional jazz, to classical guitar, to funky blues, to rock-a-billy bluegrass and some alternative rock thrown in here and there, can all be found here. Live music is played every weekday at 6pm, as well as weekends at 9am, 1pm and occasionally, 6pm also.
When romance is what you’ve set out for, have a seat in the library area of the Cafe. Enjoy your meal by candlelight, with musical entertainment by their jazz quartets or classic blues combos. The Library is a more secluded spot in the restaurant. It is full of board games and many books that you may borrow and return at your convenience.
There are outdoor heaters for the cold months so that you can still sit outside comfortably and enjoy your candlelit dinner under the stars and soak in the beautiful surroundings the mountains have to offer.
Food is prepared by some of the most talented chefs in Idyllwild, 2 of which graduated from renowned culinary arts schools.
Begin your meal with one of their scrumptious appetizers and/or starters. Some of your options include: Garlic bisque, Gorgonzola wedge salad, Caprese, Shrimp martini, and Sesame seared Ahi. There are various others you could pick; this is just a general idea. Starters and appetizers range in price from $5.00 to $16.00.
Now for your main course, there are many tempting choices! To name a few, they have: the classic, Spaghetti and meatballs, Penne Arrabiata, Gnocchi, Rigatoni Funghi, Double Portobello Mushroom Ravioli and Chicken Ravioli Florentine. In addition to the regular menu, there are also a couple of tempting, creative and well thought out daily specials to consider. Entrees range in price from $10.00 to $28.00.
After finishing your meal, you may want to try out one of the many sensuous desserts. Ask about them and your server will bring this giant tray of them to your table and tell you about each one. You won’t be able to resist!
There is so much to say about Cafe Aroma, but I’d never be able to write it all down! Basically, when looking for the perfect place to enjoy a great meal and spend a romantic evening with the one you love, this is one of the best places I have yet to see. You have all the ingredients for the perfect evening in one place; good music, Italian cuisine (the hands-down epitome of romantic food; think, Lady and the Tramp!), candlelight, cool, mountain air, great wines and even some privacy.
In conclusion, I have chosen these 3 restaurants from my hometown as the top places to have a romantic evening and meal because I believe they offer everything one looks for in the perfect, romantic meal. The enchanting, sensual ambience, a serene, private environment, picturesque, mood-setting surroundings, ambrosial, exquisite cuisine and even easily accessible locations, so you don’t ruin your night doing circles trying to find the place you were looking for. I do believe these places are awesome enough to compete with the best in the business all over the world. That is why they made my list for the best in Idyllwild. That said, if you’re ever in Southern California, make a special trip to the small mountain town of Idyllwild. I guarantee you will have one of the most memorable experiences of your lifetime!