Maple at Descanso Gardens

Something about dining beneath those towering timbers, that foliage that won’t quit, that soaring A-frame ceiling, it’s the makings of a meal within a meadow laden fantasy.  The newly refreshed Maple at Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge is the edible addition these renowned grounds have long longed for.  Craftsman construction anchoring a sun-soaked space, beignets dusted in powdered sugar, whether brunch is imitating art or art is imitating brunch, either way, the canvas is irresistible.

Maple Fried Chicken and Beignets
Fried Chicken and Beignets

Here, California’s much mocked seasons are refreshingly celebrated, embodied, emulated, and ready for consumption.  Chef Philip Mack doesn’t have to go far for inspiration.  Nature floods the floor to ceiling windows, an unmistakable muse for his market driven menu.  It’s mostly American, sprinkled with Latin nuance.  And you can expect the offerings to change in accordance with whatever is blooming best outside.

Maple Chef Philip Mack
Chef Philip Mack

With a slue of toasts to share (the maple roasted squash tartine, featuring feta, pistachio, and pomegranate, is autumn on top of toast, the avocado toast is dotted in edible flowers, and the smoked salmon toast, with those watermelon radishes…), shrimp n grits, and fried chicken and beignets, I won’t even subject myself to guessing which will become a house favorite. But I hope the Vegan Hash remains a staple – it put the whole garden on the plate.  Red beets, foraged mushrooms, Tuscan kale, roasted pumpkin and cauliflower, all decorating those California quintessentials, quinoa and avocado.  I don’t expect this to become their most popular dish, not when it’s got maple pancakes with brown sugar spiced walnuts and whiskey maple syrup to compete with.  Or maple bread pudding.  Or what looked like an exceptional breakfast burrito.  Still, that vegan hash.  I’d come back for it.

Maple Shrimp and Grits
Maple Shrimp and Grits

And for those declaring brunch next level decadent, for you, the mimosa bar is there.  Where you self-select your champagne, and choose from four cold pressed orange juices (pineapple with cayenne, lemon, ginger and agave, Strawberry with blackberry and blueberry)…  if ever there was a place to sit back and sip in your surrounds…

Maple at Descanso Gardens Terrace
Maple’s Delightful Patio

Indoors, or out.  Farmhouse in the forest, or wrap around patio, not a bad seat in the house.  Destined to be designated a dining destination, Maple puts itself on the map with its celebration of California cuisine steeped in California flora.  With a matte maple leaf mural that optically eludes us into the treetops.

Maple Salmon on Toast
Salmon on Toast

It’s casual here, but special.  The service is warm, knowledgeable, and familiar.  If you are lucky enough to live locally, it will make a regular out of you.  If you are coming to visit, it will be one you’ll miss once you have.

Maple Stack of Pancakes
Stack of Pancakes

Intelligentsia fills the steaming mugs and crafted cocktails (Bloody Mary much?) are at the ready.  The menu is not massive but it’s comprehensive and thoughtful.  The warm kale and farro salad, the biscuits and gravy, the fall vegetable breakfast scramble, its all there.  Pancakes with a hardy side of scenery.  At Descanso Garden’s newly refreshed Maple, brunch and botanica are officially, perennially, in bloom.

The Details

Maple at Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, CA, 91011, USA.

Tel: +1 (818) 864-6435

Website: www.patinagroup.com/descanso-gardens/maple

Take the 2 Fwy towards Montrose/La Canada. They have Free parking all day. Open for Weekend Brunch. Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00am to 2:00pm. Dinner during Enchanted: Forest of Light from 4:30 to 8:00pm, through January 6, 2019.

Type of Restaurant: Brunch Restaurant

Price Band: Portions are tremendous and price points are an incredible value for cuisine of this calibre.

Insider Tip: Wrap this into your garden experience – leave plenty of time to explore before or after your meal.

Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10

Author Bio:

Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles.

Photographs courtesy of Maple at Descanso Gardens and by Jolie Loeb

23 Comments

  1. Maple, I haven’t even met you and I already adore you! Yum. Jolie Loeb’s review is so full of temptation I would happily throw off the yolk of any New Year’s Resolution well before Jan. 1st — if I can just get across town to Maple! ASAP. It isn’t right, it isn’t fair; diets-be-damned, I want my garden-viewing with a side of Maple…

  2. I have only heard good things about this restaurant. Twice I have tried to get in and both times they couldn’t accommodate me. I see that they now take reservations, perhaps that is the magic needed to gain entry. I will try again.

  3. Sounds like the perfect destination for a very special occasion brunch. The surroundings plus the super opulent menu are a winning combination for even clashing political parities. The only problem I foresee is deciding what selection is my first choice! Everything looks fabulous.

  4. Omg! I don’t know where La Canada is, but I’m going!! Those photos and the descriptions made my mouth water! Thank you for this. Beignets and fried chicken? Worth the drive, I’m sure!

  5. You had me at Mimosa bar… this looks like the utterly perfect way to spend a whole Sunday, between brunching and then wandering the gardens! Thanks for finding another spectacular spot!

  6. It’s a trek from where I live, but those pancakes… the beignets… the grits (and I don’t even like grits, but the picture makes me feel that I need to rethink my taste buds)! My next Tinder date and I WILL BE GOING!

  7. Ok…I don’t like going anywhere that is more than 7 minutes from my house. However, after this review, I am gonna make my way over to Maple! Can’t wait to indulge in all things yummy when I get there!!!

  8. Descanso Gardens is so beautiful and I haven’t been there in years, but now I see I must definitely go back for brunch! I’ve already decided on the maple pancakes…yum!

  9. I actually had to pause for a very long time to gaze at the mural view with all those calming and majestic lines, before i could even begin to think about food! What a special place!

  10. I have been wanting to go back to Descanso Gardens ever since I looked at it for my wedding and now with Maple, I have all the more reason to go. I am a brunch person and the menu sounds so delectable and creative. I will have to put Maple on my holiday list of things to do this break.

  11. Yum! This sounds amazing. Right after reading your review I actually tried to get reservations for this Saturday. Lol! For some reason they’re booked. Hoping to try again in the new year. Thanks for heads up!!

  12. Southern cooking in La Cañada. What a happy combination. Fried chicken and beignets followed by a walk in the garden to balance things out. Delight must live just down the street.

  13. Start me with a spicy bloody mary and I’m usually going to have a great brunch experience. But, add the silky smoked salmon toast and a beautifully rendered fall vegetable breakfast scramble and I was happy all day. Descanso Gardens is a spectacular escape from everyday LA and with food this delicious (and well-priced), it’s worth the trip anytime you can make it.

  14. This sounds like a lovely way to spend a good meal in a beautiful place to celebrate a special occasion. I will be booking to celebrate a birthday there early in the New Year. Thank you for the find!

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