ReviewsA Taste of France in Southern California
No Need to Travel to France to Dine in a Country Inn by the Side of the Road
If you are looking for a close, romantic get-away or perhaps a special dinner with friends, Le Chene may be the place for you. This charming little piece of France sits alongside Sierra Highway, nestled in the rolling hills of Agua Dulce, just outside of Santa Clarita Surrounded by big centennial oak trees, this unique restaurant is quite modest from the roadside…But beyond the neon sign and river-rocked exterior, awaits a real treat!
As my husband and made our way through the front entrance, I found a warm, cozy atmosphere filled with delicious scents of fresh baked bread and European coffee. Arriving half an hour early for our dinner reservation, we made our way straight to the bar. Stored in open view, were a wide variety of spirits to choose from.
With our drinks in hand, we headed outside to the patio area, overlooking a beautiful, romantic garden. As we made our way down the stairs of the rear deck, small ponds of water ran along a wooden walkway; laced above were lattice archways covered in ivy. Strolling along the path, we came upon a large, antique water wheel. This picturesque garden spot is ideal for weddings and outdoor entertainment – a photographers paradise.
Decorated in French Country, the dining room was comfortable, yet elegant. Soft lights white linens, pretty floral china, and a forest green carpet created an intimate setting. Knotty pine beam ceilings and an oversized stone fireplace added warmth to the cozy atmosphere. A rustic view of oak trees could be seen throughout the room filled with large French windows.
Owner and chef, Juan Alonso welcomed us to his restaurant. We were intrigued to hear him tell his story of the history behind LeChene. Originally built by and English couple in the early 1900s, this place was once a bikers bar and pool hall named The Oaks. In 1980, Juan moved from France and bought The Oaks turning it into a little restaurant with the name Le Chene. (French for The Oaks). Over the years, he has remodeled, expanded, and gradually turned his restaurant into a popular Country Inn – well known for its weddings, parties and gourmet French Cuisine.
We were given an impressive wine list that would appeal to any wine connoisseur and has been voted Best of Award of Excellence by the Wine Spectator. The restaurant offers over 900 different wines to choose from, mainly known for its Californian and French selections. There is a wine to satisfy anyones taste with prices ranging from $9 to $200 per bottle. Exotic dinner menus were delivered to each table side, neatly handwritten on small antique chalkboards. Our waitress explained the dishes of our interest, giving details of how they were prepared. Items such as: Ostrich Medallions, Buffalo rib eye, Calamari Abalone, Duck Amaretto, and Venison Poivrade were offered, along with more simple, but just as impressive choices of various steak and seafood entrees.
Being less adventurous and more finicky, I opted for the simpler choice, Swordfish prepared in a delicious lemon butter sauce, served with fresh salad, pureed carrots, and garlic flavored zucchini. My husband chose the lightly saute scallops and mushrooms in garlic butter served with creamy vegetable soup, carrots and zucchini. Our meals were absolutely mouth watering! After sharing our dinners, we followed up the main course with a favorite specialty dessert, Creme Brulee – by far the best I’ve had.
The guests were friendly and appeared to enjoy themselves. Our waitress shared her thoughts of Le Chene: A great place to work and a lot of fun – the place is always buzzing with people, parties, and good times. Best of all, we get an excellent gourmet meal cooked nightly! Its no wonder most of the employees have been there for over fifteen years.
By the end of the evening, we were pleasantly stuffed. The combination of rich food, excellent service, and lovely atmosphere made for a wonderful evening. We were very happy we left the kids at home; the menu, prices and atmosphere were definitely geared towards adults.Le Chene has been voted Most Romantic by Daily News and LA Magazine. I will certainly add it to the top of my list: A delicious taste of France, not too far from home!