My birthday was this weekend, and I asked Dave to take me to Mendocino as my present. We only went for one day and one night, so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to sight see, but we had a great time and ate some excellent food. Despite living in the bay area for over two years now, I haven’t spent much time in the north bay, which is really something I should remedy!
Mendocino is a good three and a half hour drive from home, on quite possibly the windiest road I have ever driven. By the time we arrived, we were starving. Thanks to a timely post on Vegansaurus, I knew just where to go. We pulled into the tiny town of Mendocino and parked right in front of The Mendocino Cafe.
I took it as a good sign that they had my favorite flower, alstroemeria, on the table.
As suggested in the Vegansaurus post, I ordered the Thai Burrito with tofu. I thought the whole bush of cilantro on top was an interesting touch! This didn’t taste authentically Thai per say, but maybe “California Thai”, by which I mean the blend of flavors suggested Thai food. The inside was stuffed with onion, zucchini, red pepper, celery, brown rice, sauteed tofu and peanut sauce, and it was served with the most delicious chili sauce. I also had a glass of malbec, because when it’s your birthday and you’re in Mendocino, you can have wine with lunch. This was a tasty and filling lunch, and the service was very friendly, and I would definitely return to the Mendocino Cafe.
After lunch we wandered around a bit, and came across this health food store, Corners of the Mouth, which appears to inhabit what used to be a church. The store was small, but had a good bulk section and lots of healthy staples, including plenty of vegan stuff.
I bought both powdered and flaked dulse from Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company. I love dulse!
We settled in to Patterson’s Pub for a while to watch the end of the A’s game.
I believe this was Dave’s favorite part of the trip…
After checking in to our room and resting for a bit, we headed for the main attraction – dinner at Raven’s Restaurant. Raven’s was the reason I chose Mendocino; it’s a fully vegan, gourmet restaurant in the Stanford Inn, about two minutes south of Mendocino. If we could’ve afforded it, we would’ve just stayed at the inn, but…the rooms are a little pricey.
The Stanford Inn grounds have a wonderful garden, with lots of vegetables and edible flowers and other pretty plants.
There was also a llama and two horses, which sadly I did not get close enough to pet. I think the llama might have spit at me, anyway.
We arrived a bit early and enjoyed a local beer by the fireplace. The restaurant is fully vegan, and not afraid to show it! They had a host of vegan books on sale in the lobby, including some health-related books.
The Stanford Inn is very dog-friendly. I watched this little guy while we waited for our table.
Amuse bouche (so fancy!) – sweet rice balls with some sort of tamari sauce. These were delicious, and tasted of charred onion in a good way. Dave was abhorred when I ate the leaf underneath. I’m pretty sure it was just a shiso leaf!
The wine list tells you what is vegan! This is a very cool feature that I’ve never seen anywhere else.
I chose the Meyer Family Cellars Syrah, and liked it a lot. I’m a sucker for a good shiraz.
Appetizer #1 – Spicy King “Crab” Roll, made of mushrooms, with spicy sauce and cucumber salad. The bigger pieces without sauce were okay, but the pieces with spicy sauce were outstanding. Before I went vegan, I would order veggie sushi just to have something to dip in spicy sauce, and it had been a long time since I had it! Dave was again abhorred when I ate the little flower on the plate. I told him they wouldn’t put anything on the plate that wasn’t edible, but I guess he’s not into the idea of eating flowers. It tasted nice! Tasted like you would expect a flower to taste.
Appetizer #2 – Crab(less) cake with some sort of tangy sauce, fried capers and arugula. (The menu changes seasonally, so I don’t remember exactly what the sauce was, but it was delicious!) There were whole oyster mushrooms in the cakes, which gave it an interesting texture. The only small thing I would change for this dish would be to lightly dress the arugula, since it was a little dry. Very minor complaint!
My entree – potato gratin with maple-glazed vegetables and oyster mushrooms. Dave was flabbergasted that carrots come in a color other than orange! Damned if I don’t know what the sauce on top of the potatoes was, but I could’ve dove into a pool of it and eaten my way out. There was a green puree under the potatoes that you can’t really see, which was a nice counterpoint to the potatoes and sauce.
Dave’s entree – house-made ravioli with some sort of squash filling, cashew alfredo sauce, kale, leek and mushrooms. This sauce was really amazing too! Raven’s really knows what they’re doing with those creamy sauces.
For dessert, we chose the bananas foster, which came with house-made chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice creams. The chocolate and strawberry ice creams were outstanding.
I would highly recommend Raven’s Restaurant. Even Dave, who doesn’t always love vegan food, said he really enjoyed the meal, and was stuffed by the end of it. The food was fantastic, the setting was beautiful and relaxing, and the service was impeccable. I can only hope that some day I get to choose from the breakfast menu! And pet the llama.
After a good night’s sleep, we headed south, stopping at The Little River Inn for brunch.
I ordered the Vegan Rancheros, which is corn tortillas with black beans, spinach, green onion, peppers, chiles, pico de gallo and avocado. There’s another corn tortilla under that pile of green. This was very, very tasty, but unfortunately not as filling as I had hoped. Regardless, I never complain about finding a vegan menu item at a non-vegan restaurant, and they had soy milk for the coffee, which is always a bonus.
I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the scenery. By the way, I haven’t forgotten about my 31 by 31. I’ll post a roundup soon, then get to working on 32 by 32!