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The Mulholland: Thoroughly Modern Cuisine With a Nod to Calabasas’ Past

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 By Kathleen Sterling

Mixing modern touches with nostalgic nods to Calabasas’ cowboy past, The Mulholland is the newest must-visit eatery on the restaurant scene. Located in the heart of Old Town, even the name is a tribute to the iconic highway that ends here. While having recently opened their doors, The Mulholland is the creation of the Rosensen family, who have owned the property since its early days as an art gallery and wine store. It’s clear from both the familial component and the themes prevalent in the restaurant itself, The Mulholland shines thanks to its ability to blend present trends while recognizing the importance of honoring the past.

Wine and hospitality are in their blood, as the family owns the Coquelicot Vineyard and several stellar restaurants in California, including First & Oak in Solvang, the Chateau du Sureau and the Elderberry House in Oakhust, a Relais & Chateaux recognized property.

The intimate interior is done up in black and white, with an impressive cellar that stands as the centerpiece of the room. One could easily think they’re dining somewhere on the Westside if it weren’t for the dining room wall artistically decorated with prints and memorabilia reflecting Calabasas’ history and the “last of the old west.” Eagle-eyed observers might even make a connection between the selected prints and the amusingly named cocktails.

Even the free-standing bathrooms in the back are set in what was once the first Calabasas schoolmarm’s home – and the original Calabasas Enterprise newspaper’s old offices, wallpapered with a chic cowboy print.

The menu is thoroughly modern, however, with a list rich in flavor and texture set in four distinct sections; raw bar, breads and spreads, appetizers and entrees.

The appetizers shine here – from the ricotta gnudi with creamed kale, roasted onion and black garlic – which was rich and smoky – to the tempura mushrooms which were crispy with a kick.

We could have made a meal of just the crab salad with baby iceberg leaves, served on ice and incredibly fresh. The hamachi crudo with citrus, olive oil and yuzu was another favorite, again served on ice with a beautiful presentation that elevated the dish from appetizer to art. You could truly dine on just the apps, with a few glasses of wine from their full bar, which features 12 of their own Coquelicot wines, but also a full complement of spirits and non-alcoholic creations. 

If you’re looking for a more carb-heavy start, their homemade rosemary focaccia bread with sea salt is so good you have to be careful not to fill up on that first! On offer with three different side options (“pizza” butter being the fan favorite), the salty savory bread is just as delicious alone as it is with its respective dips.

The creative menu from Culinary Director Chef Chris Flint (Eleven Madison Park, NoMad) and Chef de Cuisine Michele Carter (Barbara Lynch Collective) offers seasonal, local and organic ingredients with the menu intending to slightly change to reflect the best ingredients available.

Currently, there are six entrees on the menu, but they offer a variety of choices to delight any carnivore, veggie or pescatarian. The Petaluma chicken with mushrooms came on a delicious, creamy potato puree that was worth eating in and of itself. The sautéed scallops were served with a carrot curry on forbidden rice with Thai basil.

There is also a seared king salmon, cheeseburger and dry aged striplion served with fresh horseradish and Bordelaise. A charred cabbage is served with apple, farro and rosemary.

There is plenty of seating inside, and the large bar is a gathering spot to grab a drink with friends after work or a dimly-lit date night spot.

Bar Director Chad Austin and Sommelier/Operating Partner Jonathan Rosenson have designed cocktails and mocktails that are playful spins on the classics and cheekily named. After all, living locally, how could you not order the Valley Girl?! 

The wine list is organic and off the beaten path, and as I’ve said, features many of their own Coquelicot wines. Wine connoisseurs will no doubt be pleased with their choices and those looking for guidance will be happily steered to something that pleases their palate.

 The large patio behind the restaurant features a fireplace and more seating in a garden setting – a perfect spot for parties and events. With this space, and the restaurant as a whole, the owners hope to “cultivate community by providing a gathering spot for friends and family.”

And many of their friends and family stop by, as mom Cynthia Rosensons still lives in Calabasas, and the three siblings who run the restaurant, Jonathan Elissa and Candice, all grew up in the area.

The theme they all espouse is “Call Again,” a tribute to Cynthia’s dad, a barber in Brooklyn who in broken English always reminded his customer to “call again.”

And call again we will…to grab a drink at the bar, relax on the patio, and dine on the creative repast.

The Mulholland is located at   23538 Calabasas Road. Visit themulholland.com for a complete menu and reservations, or call (818) 573-5667.

(Note: There is free parking across Calabasas road and the park and Ride or paid parking at 23556 Calabasas Road, the two-story center just west of the restaurant.)


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