By Selina MacLaren, 17, West Valley Christian Jr./Sr. HS (West Hills)
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The Inn of the Seventh Ray is a taste of natural romance. It was the perfect place for me and my boyfriend to celebrate Valentine’s Day. This restaurant on Old Topanga Road is tucked away in the mountains under a canopy of trees decorated in white Christmas lights. Stone staircases wind down to the patio where heating lamps warm diners sitting in white paisley chairs and tables. A special table inside an elevated gazebo is reserved for romantic endeavors such as proposals and wedding couples. The Hindu statues and the waitresses wearing flowery skirts create a hippie atmosphere. Above a room with limited indoor seating, hazy windows reveal the kitchen where jars filled with herbs and spices line the walls.

The herbs and spices are essential for making the all-natural ingredients tasty. The food is organic and cooked in nut or olive oils. Dairy is limited and food coloring, preservatives, hormone-treated meat, refined sugar and bleached flour are all strictly excluded. Even the preparation of the food is a spiritual action, with all breads being prepared on the premises.

The prices are high (a small chicken entrée is $27) and the choices are limited. This isn’t the type of restaurant for die-hard burger-lovers or picky eaters afraid of exotic vegetables. The foods are listed in order of esoteric energy—the energy that occupies chakras in the body, according to Hindu belief—but the menu doesn’t explain how esoteric energy is measured by nutritional information. However, explanations about the light vibrations in the food (the food is charged with something called violet flame vibration for personal gain and ascension to a higher plane) made me feel like the cooks knew what they were doing and I was in good hands. Even though the spiritual lingo is too elaborate, it creates the feeling of a pure body and adds to the hippie atmosphere.

The berry iced tea is very refreshing. The Tapas of Topanga appetizer is a plate of vegan samplers such as roasted tomato, macadamia nut cheese and olives, and although it was more exotic than the foods I was used to, it complements the hippie experience. The hands-down best appetizer—an absolute must-order—is the Portobello mushroom soaked in organic apricot chutney and decorated with feta cheese. Even for mushroom-haters, this mushroom is irresistible with its thick aroma and rich, juicy taste.

For an entrée, the roasted wild salmon is extremely tender and covered in white wine, endives and figs for an extra fruity taste. I considered getting the free-range roast chicken or the crisp apple and persimmon salad, but I wasn’t feeling daring enough to try anything from the raw foods menu, where one salad was called “three day old micro veggies.”  Finally, the dessert I ordered was a small round plate covered in a warm banana roasted to bread-like perfection and covered in walnuts, brioche and vanilla ice cream with a hint of lavender. Other desserts were organic macadamia nut pie and almond milk brulee. The Inn also serves brunch and lunch.
The history of The Inn is colorful. According to legend, it began as the private mountain retreat of Aimee McPherson, a famous Pentecostal evangelist in the 1920s and 30s. It became the site for Topanga’s first church and later became an auto junk yard. Finally it was claimed by the present owners and transformed into the getaway of natural beauty that it is today.

Even though the fancy restaurant is full of adults on romantic dates, the waitresses are laid-back and we didn’t feel uncomfortable not knowing which forks to use.

Driving home on Topanga Canyon, I was full without being stuffed. My boyfriend and I couldn’t stop talking about how great everything tasted. The Inn specializes in satisfying the body and the mind without encouraging overeating or indulgence in impure foods. The drive was beautiful, my body felt nourished, and as long as I didn’t think about the bill, my mind also felt healthy.

The Inn of the Seventh Ray
128 Old Topanga Canyon Rd.
Topanga, CA 90290
(310) 455-1311
Price: $40-$80 for appetizer, entrée and dessert

Check out L.A. Youth’s previous restaurant reviews:

Genevieve’s review of Solar de Cahuenga, a relaxed, crepe restaurant in Hollywood.

Charlene’s review of Le Pain Quotidien, a French bakery-style place in Pasadena.