Brace yourself. Avant Garde plant based cuisine will rock your world.
Listen up everyone. I need your 100% attention here. You all know how excited I get about new restaurants in town. But this time, it’s more than just an excitement. I’m crazy about, intrigued, mesmerized by this place, MESAVERDE.
I live in Mesa. When I don’t have anything in the refrigerator except for Kitkat and wine (Kitkat tastes the best cold and yes, I chill my red wine. No judgement please.), I roam the hood looking for some decent food, and always end up at the pre-made section at Lazy Acre and chocolate dipped cone in Mcdonalds-if I get adventurous. I always wished something exciting would pop up in the hood.
The other day, I went to Patco to fix my tahitian black pearl earrings and I ran into my friend from Whitcraft winery, Kathleen. She invited me to a spontaneous lunch at MESAVERDE. I am still jetlagged and tired from my trip but excited to try out this new place and also to catch up with her, one of my favorite people to hang out. I was just hoping they didn’t serve quinoa salad, tofu, seitan or fake chicken. If I see quinoa salad on the menu, I swear I will walk right out.
Pass the not-so-exciting fast food joints, barber shop and gas stations, there it is – beautiful architecture, earthy, environmentally friendly looking decoration with a hint of industrial flavor made me jump into the restaurant like a hungry kangaroo. It was something I would see in Food and Wine magazine that I would read about and drool over and wish we had something like that in town. But it was not just beautiful architecture that made me go crazy about this place. Ok, lets cut to the chase. Food here are ridiculous. It’s a plan based restaurant but it is not an ordinary vegetarian restaurant. The Chef is an avant garde musician. That’s right. So don’t expect what you expect here.
Chef Greg Arnold, who was already known for his creative and inventive plant based cuisine at Sage in LA, was approached by the property owner Jason Akraa who is an architecture and also a huge fan of Sage. And ‘MESAVERDE Project’ started. Thank you Jason for bringing Chef Greg in Santa Barbara. Good work.
His food is young, modern, inventive, sophisticated and unexpected just like his music. Somewhere in between Morocco, Egypt, South of France, and Sicily…you can’t really tell what it is. And that’s the beauty of it.
First up, we had grilled eggplant, burrata, brandy seared portobello, hazelnut, pomegranate molasses and tarragon. It was nothing like anything I ever had. Simple but intricate. How can this innocent veggies can create so much layers?
Wild mushroom tacos with lemon creme fraiche, harissa, pepitas and baby spring onions, is purely unique and full of flavor.
Homemade Falafel plate is served with farro, hummus, cauliflower puree, beet green, piquillo pepper and bachelor’s button edible flowers. It is so beautiful I had to stare at it for minutes as if I was in a gallery before I mess it up with my fork.
Look at this details and tremendous thoughts that goes into each dish.
“Cooking is like music. I cook as I touch my guitar string. It touches different sensories in our body” FYI He is known for his paintings as well. Chef, are you sure you are in the right city? Aren’t you supposed to be in San Francisco or Portland? Well, we are so happy you are in our beloved town. Don’t you move away from us.
Menu changes every season. “I get bored making same things over and over. Changes of seasons and produce, creating new dishes keep me excited. I am already designing our fall menu.”
Chef Greg nods his head. I can see his creativities working in his head. Agh I miss my days in San Francisco when I mingled with brilliant artists like him. He must have his own language. Like, do you speak ‘Greg’?
In honor of him who is a modern iPhonegrapher, some of pictures here are taken with my iphone and filtered in instagram. I had to tap on ‘Forgot your passwords’ in my Instagram. (I’m an old fashioned facebook user.) I have been refusing using ‘Filters’ because I am a self-claimed photography purist, but in fact, it’s pretty fun especially I found out I can look way better after filtering. But food here, I swear it taste way way better than filtered photos. Honestly, I am afraid it will get so busy I will have hard time getting a table. So just pace yourself.
I think I am going to go listen to some noisy avant garde music if you would excuse me.
Food file fun facts:
Nothing in this building is made out of plastic, all recycled wood, solar panel and environmentally friendly materials.
Chef Greg Arnold. Avant Garde musician and photographer. Be sure to follow him on Instagram @ofaire