Three Forks Chop House: Brothers Honor Montana Grandpa in Claremont [CLOSED]

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Restaurant Claremont

Three Forks Chop House headlines the Packing House, a former citrus packing facility.

Brothers Mark and Mick Bollinger, who own Candlelight Pavilion Fine Dining and Musical Theater in Claremont, were tired of driving all the way to Pasadena to get a good meal. They did something about it. On August 9, 2007, the Bollingers opened Three Forks Chop House downtown, in the contemporary Packing House development. They were inspired by trips to their grandfather’s home in Three Forks, Montana, and honored his memory by serving game dishes they grew to love in Big Sky Country.

Every Sunday, Three Forks Executive Chef Eric Osley offers a three course, $45 Farmer’s Market Inspired Menu from 5:30 PM – 9 PM. On the menu, he includes a treatise about finding his inspiration for the meal: “As a chef it is always an extreme pleasure to get to walk the streets dotted with such beautiful produce that farmers spend all day, every day putting their heart and soul into growing, as if it were their own children. I feel that it becomes the goal for myself to take that same exquisite produce and shape them into works of art on the plate.” We decided it was worth the drive from L.A. to see how Chef Osley’s market-driven ethos was reflected on the plate.

The building itself featured corrugated metal siding that shimmered as the sun went down. We sat on the covered patio, which was totally patriotic, complete with American flags and red, white and blue drapes. The rest of Three Forks is almost as interesting.

Restaurant Design Claremont

The Bollingers imported trees from Montana for decoration, interspersing them with colorful leaf-like art glass.

Our Amuse Bouche consisted of a slice of hothouse cucumber with silky smoked salmon, minced chives and dill crème fraiche.

Butter Claremont

Our waiter presented us with a wooden tray of La Brea Bakery bread: baguette, raisin walnut and black olive. They must have been baked that day, since it was nice and soft. The bread came with a pat of butter and carrot-flecked green olive tapenade.

Salad Claremont

Duck prosciutto-wrapped Cavaillon melon (a true cantaloupe, unlike grocery store muskmelon) joined “super sweet” strawberries, grapefruit, thin-shaved Winchester Farms black pepper Gouda, watercress dressed with herbed vinaigrette, and two decorative balsamic ant trails.

Salt Claremont

Three Forks’ steaks and chops are pairable with Specialty Salts, Inspired Rubs, and Pepper Blends.

Chef Osley was nice enough to provide a sampling of each salt. The top row consisted of (left to right) Traditional French Fleur de Sel, Jewel of the Ocean-Deep Ocean Salt from Japan, Murray River Salt Flakes from Australia and Three Forks Montana Inspired Dry Rub. The bottom row hosted Fruit Wood Smoked Fleur de Sel from Hawaii, Seaweed Sea Salt and Grains of Paradise (Black Pepper Blend and Fleur de Sel). Of course a swift gust of wine blew all the salt off the napkin. It was totally predictable, and completely hilarious.

Fish Claremont

We had a choice of two entrees for our Second Course. Grilled King salmon was firm and moist, topped with charred tomato vinaigrette. The plate also featured pink-veined Swiss chard and Israeli couscous. Large pearls are infinitely better than tiny couscous, especially when tossed with juicy heirloom cherry tomatoes and chilies.

Steak Claremont

Marinated flat iron steak was even better, a luscious cut sporting a nice char and red onion marmalade, plated with truffled Parmesan potatoes (some of the best roasted potatoes ever), forest mushrooms and Madeira demi-glace.

Vegetables ($8 each) were all served in red cast iron cookware.

Vegetables Claremont

Classic creamed baby spinach was rich but flavorful, the cream tinted green.

Mushrooms Claremont

Chanterelles and oyster mushrooms were simply flavored with Sherry and garden herbs. As it turned out, we received the same mushrooms with the steak, but that’s fine.

Corn Claremont

Wood fired corn with roasted chilies and avocado honey was a fluffy corn pudding with a nice browned crust, heat from chilies and sweetness from honey.

Cake Claremont

Dessert was Fluffy White Stone Fruit Cake, layered, topped and plated with sweet market pluots, nectarines and peaches. The brick-shaped cake was lined with rich vanilla butter cream. The plate was drizzled with decorative, powerfully sweet strawberry coulis.

Mignardises Claremont

With the check, we received two plates of Mignardises, each holding an apple pate de fruit, citrus truffle and shortbread.

Until recently, the small town in the Inland Empire was known primarily for the five Claremont Colleges. Thanks to the Bollingers and Chef Osley, Claremont now has another claim to fame.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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