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The Old Place – A Gem in the Santa Monica Mountains

The first thing you notice about The Old Place is the smell of the oak grill wafting in the air, luring you in and whetting your appetite for a great meal. Located in the former town of Cornell it was originally Hanks country store and the post office was in the back. It was bought by Tom Runyon in the sixties who turned it into the Old Place serving steaks, steamed clams and baked potatoes grilled over a red oak fire. Today Tom’s son Morgan runs the place. He’s enlarged the menu and added specials based on what’s fresh from his purveyors. They also serve brunch on weekends.

I debated with my girlfriend about doing this article since it’s one of our favorite places to go and is already very busy but, alas, I couldn’t keep it a secret any longer. The food here is fantastic. I’ve been for both brunch and dinner and never had a bad experience. The inside is rustic and filled with local memorabilia. It has a cozy cabin feel and the people who come in just add to the ambiance. Sit at the bar and there’s always a conversation to be had.

I recently had brunch there and I must say it was just as good as always.   On this trip, since it was my girlfriends birthday, we also had to try the cinnamon rolls. If you like a cream cheese frosting over nicely toasted cinnamon rolls then you’ll love these. For me, it was a bit too sweet but my girlfriend just loved them. The blue corn pancakes are a must. Slather them with butter and maple syrup and you’ve got a sweet moist pancakey deliciousness that will tantalize your tastebuds to the point of addiction.

In addition to the normal egg fare, they have a great selection of frittatas, each individually made to order and divine. This time around my daughter ordered one with goat cheese, sundried tomato, and grilled vegetables, it was light and fluffy, eggs cooked perfectly with a hint of smokiness from the oak grill. I’ve also had the wild mushroom goat cheese frittata that is equally magnificent.

My girlfriend and I each ordered sandwiches one steak with crispy potato wedges and the other chicken with a side salad. These were served on oak-grilled sourdough with bleu cheese mayo. Both great sandwiches with lots of flavors and not dry in the least.

There’s always a great mix of people inside and out, including weekend bikers and locals. Dinner is always a great experience. Whatever steak they have on the menu, get it. If they have ribeye don’t even hesitate just order it, you won’t be disappointed. The noodle bake is to die for and the cheese and meat plate is a great way to start your meal. I love the wild mushroom skillet and the Old Place Steamed Calms are a tradition for many.

If you have the chance to sit up at the bar that’s always a great time enjoy one of their craft beers or a bottle of wine from their excellent selection.

If you’re in the mood start your evening next door at Cornell Winery with a wine tasting. They have a great selection of local Malibu wines to choose from as well as other boutique wines. Pick one up and take it next door to have with your dinner. You can’t go wrong.

Reservations are a must. It’s a small place. They have 3 seatings for dinner and brunch is only on Saturday and Sunday.

Needless to say, I’ve never had a bad experience here. If I had the opportunity, I’d hang out here every night, enjoying the people, drinking wine and having a fantastic meal.


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