Canyon Bistro on Topanga recently reopened after remodeling their outdoor patio, and although I have been to this casual comfortable cafe for lunch and loved their beautiful Roasted Vegetable Napolean, with marinated tomatoes, portobello mushroom, roasted red peppers, roasted eggplant, goat cheese, arugula and a balsamic reduction ($10) and their Saffron Mussels, with mussels steamed in white wine, shallots, cream, Dijon and saffron, served with bistro fries or baby greens ($18), I stopped in last week to try their dinner menu.
I have friends who are bidding on a house in the area and I wanted to make sure this was a spot they would enjoy for dinner if they wanted to go out either for a romantic dinner or as a family with young children. I'm glad to be able to tell them, yes, on both counts.
I had the Rack of New Zealand Lamb, dry herb rubbed and served over roasted garlic mashed potatoes and haricots verts with a port wine reduction ($30). I asked for spinach as a substitution for the haricots verts and loved the garlicky sauteed greens so much I would have ordered it as a side if they had not made the substitution. I ordered the Rack of Lamb rare, and although the very center of the four ribs was rare, the outer ribs were more medium, so keep this in mind when you specify doneness. The lamb was tender and well seasoned, and the port wine reduction was rich and delectable, so the mashed potatoes were merely tasted (not enough garlic for me), not finished. This is a hearty plate so to have finished nearly everything on it is a testament to how well done everything was done.
My friend ordered the Braised Short Ribs in red wine and mirepoix, slow roasted and served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus and carrot and finished with pan jus ($25). She generously gave me a taste and as tender and well executed as it was, I preferred my Rack of Lamb. The red wine and mirepoix sauce was not complex enough to make my taste buds dance, but it was good enough to make them smile.
Since my friend loves brussel sprouts, she ordered them as an additional side dish and we both loved tender sprouts sauteed with bacon so much we finished this dish even after eating out entire entrees.
Finding a great bistro hidden in a canyon is like finding gold in a stream; you know it exists, but you are glad to be one of those who is lucky enough to experience the joy of seeing it in your pan, or in this case, on your plate.