A Hidden Gem in Mill Valley: Mountain Home Inn & Restaurant, reviewed

13 Aug

Today was just so full of surprises. And I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t like surprises, not from most people at least. Only certain people know exactly what I want and can surprise me real good. However, this time, it was a pleasant surprise.

I made plans to have lunch with my Uncle today, but we had agreed to go a new local Bay Area favorite (Seal Rock Inn Restaurant) that I had found that served good food that was well-priced, had plenty of free parking, and was located near the Ocean Beach. I was prepared to go there, but when my Uncle showed up today, he told me that he had decided to take me to a new place near his home in Mill Valley. At first, I wasn’t too thrilled about it because I had been ready to try the Turkey Burger at the ocean favorite.

Halfway into the drive, my mind wasn’t about to be changed either. It was a nice view of beautiful trees and a view of the bay and ocean, but I was still sulking about the Turkey Burger and the convenience near my home. I didn’t let on though because my uncle was super excited to bring me here. He started talking about all the different hikes and backpacking trips he’d been on when he was in his 30s.

Mountain Home Inn

810 Panoramic Hwy
Mill Valley, CA 94941

Once I saw the restaurant (and you’ll know when you see it because it’s the only restaurant in the area), I was completely surprised – in a good way. It looked like a modern cabin though I knew for sure that it was not a new place because my uncle had eaten there 10 or so years ago. I was quite astonished.

The restaurant inside was small with a bar a about two small areas with tables, but the best place to sit outside on a sunny day like today was outside on the deck. Since it was a clear day, we had a beautiful view of the bay near Mill Valley on one side and another view of beautiful trees in the state park (not sure which one) near Mt. Tam on the other side. I was impressed (and relieved because I was starting to get a bit dizzy from the winding trail we took), but not quite won over yet. The restaurant could be as picturesque as it was, but serve crappy food.

The view of the front of the inn from the deck
The view of the front of the inn from the deck
The view of the bay and trees. I angled it badly, but from other tables you can see the bay better too

The view of the bay and trees. I angled it badly, but from other tables you can see the bay better too

The one-sided menu was simple and straight ford with a bits of variety here and there. There was about 3 different kinds of salads from your classic ceasar to an asian pear salad to their house salad. For lunch, the menu seemed to focus on their Niman Ranch hamburgers that, for extra, you could add bacon, sauteed mushrooms, or even onions. The hamburger starts off at $12 with fries so it’s up to you to add anything else. Here’s their lunch menu, but this is actually slightly different from what they had today.

We were served water in a beautiful wine bottle with a mint leaf in it. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Mint Water served in a wine bottle

Mint Water served in a wine bottle

Mint Water Leaf Close-Up

Mint Water Leaf Close-Up

I ended up ordering their Soup of the Day: Corn Chowder and their Turkey Club (not on the online menu above).

Corn Chowder -- $7
Corn Chowder — $7

Turkey Club Sandwich (comes with cole slaw and house potato chips) -- $10
Turkey Club Sandwich: served on thick, toasted Texas toast; comes with cole slaw and house potato chips; house salad for extra $2.5— $10

My uncle decided to order their Niman Ranch Burger with french fries. I didn’t try the burger, but it looked so good with the grilled cross-lines on it and everything! Take a look!

Niman Ranch Burger with fries, fruit, and pesto mayo --- $12

Niman Ranch Burger with fries, fruit, and pesto mayo --- $12

If you’ve read the description of the Niman Ranch Burger, then you’ll realize that I said “pesto mayo”. You may find that interesting or just plain disgusting. If that’s so, then you’ll be glad to know that this is not their usual mayo. For those of you who love pesto mayo or who’d like to try it, then you’ll be glad to know that you can ask for it. The waiter will tell you that they don’t serve it, but that they have their homemade pesto sauce and that you can mix it with the mayo on the side. Do this and you’ll get a lovely pesto mayo.

Overall,

the experience at the Mountain Home Inn was a pleasant surprise. Their lunch was very good. All of this for $28 including tax. I couldn’t believe the price (after experiencing three bad sandwiches and two desserts at Mel’s Drive In for $68; no, I didn’t eat it all myself either :] ). The menu was simple but definitely satisfying. It embodied all the essential parts of any menu. It’s like a fancy restaurant menu stripped down to the bare – but delicious – core.

The drive is only 25 minutes from the city part of Mill Valley and about 45 minutes – 1 hr away from Sea Cliff and Outer Richmond in San Francisco. It’s also an inn obviously hence the name “Mountain Home Inn” and if you stay, you get a complimentary breakfast too! So, if you’re looking for great food, hiking near Mount Tam, or a romantic weekend getaway, go here.

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