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Malibu Roadhouse adds familiar touches

Pictured is the beer can chicken from Malibu Roadhouse. Photos by Ashleigh Fryer/22nd Century Media
Pictured is the milk cake from Malibu Roadhouse.
Pictured is the bruschetta from Malibu Roadhouse.
Ashleigh Fryer, Senior Editor
3:59 pm PDT August 25, 2014

There’s something familiar about the Malibu Roadhouse.
It might be that it occupies the space that used to house the BeauRivage, a storied Malibu restaurant. It might be its familiar position, across PCH from Dan Blocker Beach — a section of Malibu most residents cruise through daily.
But more than likely, it’s the feeling guests are met with as they stroll through the newly renovated space — through dining areas equipped with lush. cognac-colored leather armchairs, cozy interior accents and textured tiles adorned with throw rugs, adding warmth to the natural light spilling in from doorways and expansive windows that look out onto the Pacific Ocean. All the trappings of home.
And the menu is no exception.
“We wanted to feature foods reminiscent of backyards barbecues and trips to the beach,” said James King, Malibu Roadhouse’s head chef. “It really is Southern California beach cuisine.”
The new restaurant, which is just one of four aspects that will eventually make up the Ranch at Solstice Canyon, was purchased two years ago from Daniel Forge by Garner Gerson and his partners Valentino Caceres and Palo Daguiar. The Gerson family are the owners of Malibu Cafe at the Calamigos Ranch, the influence from which shows clearly in the design of the Roadhouse, which boasts vintage interior accents throughout.
The Roadhouse also carries over another influence from the mountain-bound Malibu Cafe — fresh and interesting plays on tradition comfort foods. With Malibu Cafe known for its country fried chicken, the Roadhouse is making a name for itself with another chicken dish — beer can chicken ($29).
“Some people are a little thrown off when it comes to the table,” King said, laughing. “Nobody expects the chicken to come with the can still in it. But that’s where the succulence comes from.”
The dish features a whole chicken, brined with garlic oil, thyme and beer overnight and then roasted to perfection with a full can of Malibu’s own House Beer in the cavity of the bird. The presentation, alone, prepares the eater for a culinary experience, which is exactly he or she will get. The saltiness of the brine matches that of the beer, bringing out the delicate juiciness of the meat. Served with creamed spinach, the dish’s ingredients exemplify simplicity, but the taste proves intricate.  
With an underground tunnel that leads to Dan Blocker beach from the Ranch at Solstice Canyon’s 5-acre property, King said the Roadhouse is considering offering picnic baskets, packed with some of the restaurant’s more finger-friendly meals, which beach-goers with appetites can purchase. The tunnel should be open for use within several weeks.
“The beer can chicken would be a perfect picnic item,” King said. “Part of the experience of a picnic is using your hands. It’s a fun meal.”
King, who previously worked at the SLS Hotel and Bouchon Bistro in Beverly Hills, said many of the creations on the menu were a joint effort between himself and the owners. That team mentality is mirrored in the rest of the Ranch at Solstice Canyon’s endeavors.
“They all had an eye for what they wanted this place to become and what the restaurant needed,” Roadhouse assistant manager Lisa Marie Simancek said. “Each area has its own separate vibe.”
The upstairs of the Malibu Roadhouse’s building will feature Otte Calamigos, a boutique that will be filled with high-end, beachy fashions, surfboards and other Southern California essentials. A separate, smaller building on the property features The Tasting Room, which will open in a few weeks and feature craft beer and wine tastings. The fourth feature is the Driftwood Bar, which is currently open on weekends and boasts a space where guests can relax with a cocktail and an ocean view.
“We like the idea that you can make your way through the whole property and experience a different ambience as you work your way inside,” Simancek said.   

Other dishes not to miss:
• Bruschetta ($10) — This dish features toasted foccacia bread topped with burrata, over dried tomatoes, aged balsamic and basil.
• Salmon tacos ($11) — This dish features two tacos filled with grilled salmon, pineapple, cabbage and cilantro creme.
• Monkey bread ($10) — This dish features freshly baked cinnamon bread, topped with vanilla ice cream and a caramel rum sauce.
• Milk cake ($10) — This dish features white cake, topped with handmade whipped cream and strawberries and served over a bed of sweetened condensed milk.