Tim Rettele really can't stand the term "farm to table." He feels, and understandably so, like the phrase has become so overused lately as to have become practically meaningless. But he's going to have to come to terms with it sooner or later, because it will be exhaustively used to describe Pedaler's Fork, his intriguing new dining/caffeinating/cycling endeavor with partner Robbie Schaeffer.
Old friends Tim and Robbie came to the table, so to speak, with seemingly divergent passions. Tim, whose family owns the 10 Speed Coffee company, wanted to open a restaurant where neighbors could gather to enjoy good, reasonably priced food, and know exactly where that food came from. Robbie's passion was cycling and an overall healthy, active lifestyle. This somewhat unusual pairing resulted in Pedaler's Fork, which combines a farm-direct restaurant, artisanal coffee shop, full bar and high-end cycling boutique under one gorgeously designed roof in charming Old Town Calabasas. (The tie-in between the coffee brand's name and the bike shop was pure serendipity.)
The two-story restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows, high, open-beamed ceilings and rustic wood throughout. It flows seamlessly into a large covered patio that overlooks Calabasas Creek, where patrons can listen to frogs croak as they sip craft beers and artisanal cocktails on warm summer evenings. The partners' goal was to create a beautiful and welcoming community gathering spot, and they've succeeded in spades. The bike shop is outside and can be accessed directly from the spacious parking lot (a perk of opening out in Calabasas). An official dealer of the high-end Moots Cycles brand, the shop will happily service any bike. They also plan to offer weekly demos, plan group rides and host special cycling events. Again, the emphasis is on bringing people together, whether they're novice riders or cycling pros.
Pedaler's Fork's farm-to-table ethos is pretty unimpeachable. During my visit, Tim proudly showed off the restaurant's "farm van," which travels around to local farms each morning and delivers the goods directly back to the kitchen run by Chef Dan Murray. They began their farm selection by getting to know the farmers at nearby farmers markets, and if they wanted to work with them, visiting their farms to make sure they followed organic practices. Chef Murray's unpretentious, seasonally driven menu includes plenty of vegetarian and vegan options in addition to sustainably raised meat, fish and poultry. According to Tim, freshly made baby food will even be on offer.
Robbie and Tim's earnestness and enthusiasm is obvious when they talk about what they've created, despite the fact that pulling off something this ambitious was no easy feat. (Not cheap, either -- it's clear that no expense has been spared.) I, for one, am rooting for these fellas, and encourage even non-West Valley dwellers to make the trip to Calabasas to check this place out. Chances are you'll find an excuse to come back.