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Day Tripping: Malibu

The Old Place, Malibu, Cornell winery, Los Angeles
She was a day tripper, a Sunday driver yea
Took me so long to find out, and I found out

{Lyrics by the Beatles}

Last weekend  I took the brand new 2013 Acura ILX on a little daytrippin’ adventure that was like entering a time machine, going back to the Old West of Hollywood’s heyday and fast forwarding to an ultimate zen California-cool Eastern dining experience at renowned Nobu in Malibu.
Acura ILX, The Old Place restaurant, Malibu day trip

My weekend adventure with the Acura ILX (#weekwithILX) started in Orange County with a smooth ride up the 405 freeway to the 101 North, past the Valley, exit Kanan Rd., wind through the picturesque hills of the Santa Monica Mountains for several miles down to a rustic bend in the road known as Cornell. Here you will find The Old Place -  a decidedly old place and proud of it.

The opening shot of Lori, the lovely wine angel at Cornell Wine Tasting Room next door, donning a seemingly golden illuminated halo, seemed to express the aura of this tiny hamlet tucked away in the Santa Monica Mountains and up the winding road from the beaches of Malibu. Surrounded by soaring trees and mountains in the distance, gray skies and drizzle easing into soft sunlight – the stunning natural beauty is a world away from urban Los Angeles.

The Old Place, Hollywood history, Malibu, Los Angeles day trips
I met up with two girlfriends, Rose and Myrlene, for a country-style brunch before whetting my whistle with wine…just so you know. The menu is short and sweet, but all one really needs for a satisfying breakfast that will stay with you through the day – or, in our case, until our dinner reservation at Nobu ;)
The Old Place, Malibu, Los Angeles day trips
We were seated in a large booth that can easily accommodate 6 people and chattered away, with me getting up to snap pictures, until a smiling young man, named Marco came around to ask us what we would like to drink. We were somewhat familiar with the history of the building and its storied past and Marco (picture below) filled in the gaps, effusively declaring Cornell and the surrounding area the best place in the world to live and work. He brought us a book on the area so we could see more historical photographs than those that adorn the walls of the small rustic space.
The Old Place, Malibu, Los Angeles day trips
The service was casual and friendly. Courtney sat down with us to take our order and obliged our photos. We shared an order of wholesome Blue Cornmeal Flap Jacks with maple syrupGoat Cheese, sundried tomato and grilled vegetable frittata, and an order of homemade Biscuits and sausage gravy - now you’re talking! I LOVE biscuits and gravy, but rarely make it at home anymore because it doesn’t quite fit  into hub’s low sodium diet :(
The Old Place, Malibu, fritatta, cornmeal flapjacks, biscuits and sausage gravy

The atmosphere is casual and homey with Morgan, the son of original owner, Tom Runyon, who at 89 years of age, still ran the Old Place with his wife Barbara, carrying on the family business today. The Old Place was as unique as it’s owners, serving a menu that Tom would say was developed back in 1870. Steaks, cooked over a Red Oak fire, Clams and baked potatoes with crusty sourdough from the family that founded Pioneer bread. Back in the day, The Old Place was home to a very unique crowd that consists of colorful locals to the rich and famous: Steve McQueen, Jason Robards, Burgess Merideth, Sam Peckinpaw, and others. Who cares about the others, I could only imagine Steve McQueen bellied up to the bar with a brew in hand, especially after seeing the photo of he and Ali McGraw on the wall. Ahh, a girl can dream ;)

The restaurant pays tribute to its past by featuring Tom’s original menu, Steaks, Clams and Baked potatoes, with stew on Sunday, but with the addition of a 4 other menu items including Pale Ale Chicken and nightly specials. They also cater to the wine tasters that now fill the canyon in search of local wines by offering a selection of appetizers that fill the void and appetites from 4-6pm. The full dinner menu is available from 6pm-10pm.
The Old Place restaurant, Malibu, Los Angeles day trip
Speaking of wine, after our mid-day brunch we wandered over to the Cornell Winery Tasting Room – that’s where you can find Lori and a wonderful selection of local wines, gourmet food items, artwork by local artists, and unique gift items.  Cornell’s motto is “Drink Local Wine” and they want that to become a reality for those who visit. They believe that the emerging wine community in the Santa Monica Mountains is truly unique, not only because of the incredible terroir “geology” but the philosophies and personalities behind the multitude of growers and winemakers. The tasting line up features 4 wines for a cost of $10 plus tax and changes often. On this day we tasted a Montage Chardonnay from Russian River Valley, a Gagnon Cabernet Sauvignon from Santa Clara, Malibu vineyard Caro’s Ridge Malbec, and Vina Robles Red4 (a Syrah blend)  from Paso Robles.
Cornell Winery Tasting Room, Malibu, Los Angeles day trip
After we made our purchases we decided to get back on Mulholland Drive and visit the Paramount Ranch film set and Malibou Lake at Marco’s recommendation, then hit the Malibu Country Mart before going to Nobu. Malibou Lake (to the south) used to be the playground of the wealthy elite of Los Angeles during Hollywood’s golden era in the 30s and 40s.  Major movie companies like Paramount kept studios in the mountains where shows like M*A*S*H and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman were filmed.  The sets still stand today and are a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike.
Paramount Ranch, Hollywood sets, LA attractions, LA day trips
You can live here for decades and still never see everything there is to see in the Los Angles area – my friends and I were in awe of the beauty surrounding us and the fact that we had never visited Paramount Ranch!  The hills are also a great place for hiking and biking with a vast network of trails weaving through the mountains – but, even though I’d worn my best cowgirl boots for the occasion, we really weren’t dressed for hiking, maybe next time…
Paramount Ranch, Malibu, LA day trips

We languished for awhile, soaking up the view, then it was off to the Malibu Country Mart, which we discovered  closed at 4:00. Never phased by a change in plans, it wasn’t tough to decide on maximizing our time by arriving early at Nobu and take advantage of their expansive ocean views, Japanese garden and artful Asian-inspired minimalist architecture as a stunning backdrop for more photo ops.

Nobu Malibu

Nobu Malibu
Nobu Malibu is known for exquisite cuisine featuring Nobu Matsuhisa’s signature dishes such as Tiradito, Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno, and Black Cod with Miso.  As well as some Malibu favorites created by Executive Chef Gregorio Stephenson including Ribeye with Truffle Butter Sauce and Crispy Maui Onions, Heirloom Tomato and Snapper New Style, and Kobe Beef with Crispy Shiitake Mushrooms. At such a highly acclaimed sushi restaurant why would you order anything else? We shared a selection of their signature dishes:
Nobu, Nobu Malibu, Nobu Matsuhisa
Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno and Spicy Seafood Soup
Nobu Malibu, Nobu signature dishes
Rock Shrimp Tempura with Creamy Spicy Sauce and Albacore Vegas Salsa with Avocado
Nobu, Nobu Malibu, Nobu Matsuhisa
 Black Cod with Miso and, for dessert, Bento Box Warm Chocolate Souffle Cake


 All the seafood dishes were exquisite – the highest quality fish that money can buy and palate pleasing Asian flavors with a Peruvian twist evident especially in the ceviches and salsas. We erred in ordering a non-seafood dish to further experience the Peruvian side of Nobu – the “Anti-Cucho” Peruvian Style Spicy Chicken Skewers, which at 2 pieces for $10 was disappointing since one skewer was overcooked and dry. Other than that, the meal and ambience was a sublime end to a perfect day and the sleek Acura ILX handled the rain-slick freeways in fine form, bringing me safely to the nest.


Disclosure:  I received the keys to an Acura ILX to test drive for a week and was compensated for my time. The day tripping adventure, choice of restaurants, and opinions expressed here are my own.


But wait! Acura, would like to know what you would do if you were given a week with an ILX. Please leave a comment below describing your adventure for a chance to receive an Acura ILX for a week or win a giftcard for $100 or $50.  

And here’s the trip in 4 minutes ;)

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13 Responses to “Day Tripping: Malibu”

  1. Kevin
    December 6 at 7:15 am #

    Thanks for sharing. The food is impeccably plated. I am certain I have passed by The Old Place (Old Pit Grill) on drives to Malibu without paying attention. What a treasure in the rough.

    • Priscilla
      December 6 at 10:38 am #

      Hi Kevin – A diamond in the rough is its charm – next time you have to stop!

  2. Laura @ Family Spice
    December 6 at 4:42 pm #

    What a fun trip! And totally cute boots! LOL! Hmmm…. where would I go? Our favorite local spots are always by the beach: La Jolla, Coronado, Del Mar. Maybe we’ll come to OC and visit you?

    • Priscilla
      December 11 at 9:50 am #

      I saw you looking at boots this weekend, Laura :) Come up to Huntington Beach any time!

  3. Nami | Just One Cookbook
    December 8 at 11:16 pm #

    You seem like you had a fun trip, and with the car! :D I saw your IG pictures but now I know the whole story of this trip. The famous Nobu miso cod! I hope to be able to visit one day!!

  4. Jesse Bluma
    December 9 at 12:24 pm #

    Caramel captures the taste buds before you ever take a bite. If I were given a week with an Acura ILX, my adventure would include a day trip with friends to Los Angeles hitting up the top confectionery stores with the best caramels. A tasting at each would measure up to be a sweet time of fun and great memories.

    • Priscilla
      December 11 at 9:52 am #

      Tasting caramels sounds like a delicious time to me, Jesse! Tell me – what are your favorite confectionary stores?

  5. Shari
    December 9 at 2:47 pm #

    Looks like a whole lotta fun Priscilla!! I would love to take a day trip with a friend down the coast to San Diego to eat at Brooklyn Girl Eats. I would love to pull over on PCH and watch for whales.

  6. Shari
    December 9 at 2:48 pm #

    Looks like a whole lotta fun Priscilla!! I would love to take a day trip with a friend down the coast to San Diego to eat at Brooklyn Girl Eats and stop and some little places along the way on the coast.

    • Priscilla
      December 11 at 9:55 am #

      Hi Shari – I have not tried Brooklyn Girl Eats, but sounds like I should add it to my list! Day tripping through Encinitas and Carlsbad on the way to San Diego would definitely be fun :)

  7. Patty Mitchell
    December 11 at 10:14 am #

    What wouldn’t I do?!!!
    I’d cruz down the coast to San Diego….stopping first in La Jolla Village, then on to the Gaslamp District and taking the Ferry over to Hotel Del Coronado!

  8. Lisa
    December 12 at 3:55 am #

    What a fun girl’s day out! Good friends, good food and fun in the ‘old west’..what more could you ask for on a beautiful day with the gals? I love how you started the post with the Day Tripper chorus and, of course..I love all the amazing photos of the scenery, boots (awesome!) and dishes you tried. :)

  9. Magic of Spice
    December 23 at 2:04 pm #

    What a great way to spend the day :)

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