If I could, I would take The Ravens’ Restaurant at Stanford Inn by the Sea home with me. It would be wonderful to enjoy their fabulous food without traveling and since the food is so good, I could easily sustain a vegan diet. Given that my husband and I live near Chicago, we feel very fortunate to have had several wonderful dining experiences while visiting Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino, California
My husband and I approach food differently. I have been a gluten-free vegetarian for many years, while my husband loves all the other kinds of foods. I have played with the idea of attempting a vegan diet when I heard two authors of vegan cookbooks touting the value of this kind of eating, how much energy one has and how good it is for one’s health. My husband has major questions about all of this. However, our experience at the Ravens’ Restaurant during our stay at Stanford Inn by the Sea was an absolute delight. The flavors and textures of everything we tasted surprised and delighted us, each in our own way. The extensive wine list (more than 50 wines) comprised primarily of locally produced wines was very impressive. My husband enjoyed the wines he selected both by the bottle and by the glass.
The Ravens’ website states: "Our Mission is to provide healthy organic cuisine that rivals the finest Northern California restaurants. We feel that this is the 'path of least resistance' to demonstrate that healthy and satisfying food produced and cooked with a lighter touch on our environment can be a wonderful experience. It is our mission to 'seduce' those often suspicious of veganism by continuing to build on our reputation as an outstanding restaurant within a four diamond, AAA rated country inn….The Ravens’ provides an exceptional vegan experience and it’s painless! Guests don’t have to go out of their way to try an ethical, sustainable meal. They also find an outstanding wine list and a full bar. “
My husband and I enjoyed two wonderful dinners. Elimah was our very attentive server the first night, offering great suggestions and pleasant conversation. The meal began with an “amuse”, which was Daikon radish, topped with a sesame and dill pate, and carrot slices and spread of almond and sweet potato pate. The gluten-free bread was delicious and an especial treat for me because I could enjoy the delicious spread.
Next, from the eight choices among the “Small Plates”, we decided to share the Dos Tacos Biologicos. The tortilla was soft and the filling delicious. The decorative flower, a bachelor button, was a charming touch.
From the five choices of “Salads”, we selected two. The Raven’s Roasted Beets was a salad topped with a dab of lemon, walnut pate. The yellow beets were sweet and the red beets had a mellow flavor. The beets were pleasingly soft but retained their texture and were a great contrast to the crunchy frisee. The dressing was delicious.
The Grilled Pear Salad was very unusual and was topped with a brazil-nut cheese pate. For my husband who loves spinach, it was a great blend of flavors with pepitas. The warm, wilted onions added texture and flavor. The smoky flavor of the pears was different from anything he had previously tasted and the combination of flavors, colors and textures was perfect.
From the seven “Large Plates” selection, we decided to share the Moussaka. It was filling and tasted like the best of the typical Moussaka we experienced elsewhere. The Moussaka was warm and contrasted with the accompanying quinoa that was served cold and was very flavorful and crunchy. There was also a kale leaf that looked and tasted very much like a stuffed grape leaf.
We have been sampling sorbet in various places and since this was a gluten-free choice, while not on the menu, we were interested in trying this dish. Three flavors were presented to us. We liked the strawberry, the apricot was very, very good but the pear was best of all.
Wine from the nearby Navarro winery was perfect with the meal.
For dinner the next night my husband selected the Encrusted Mushroom Sandwich, golden baked potato wedges and cashew-paprika slaw. It gave me pleasure to see how much he enjoyed this. I helped him with the potato wedges and wondered how they could be so evenly browned. Then I tasted the slaw and couldn’t believe how good it was. The flavor lasted in my mind for a long time.
My selection was the Kale Salad, massaged (?) kale, mushroom ceviche, avacado tartare-amazing.
We spoke briefly with Sadhana (Wysteria) Berkow, Creative director and Chef Instructor. We also met Johanna Zahn, an intern from the Natural Gourmet Institute, N.Y. Sadhana suggested that I might find the information about the internship program interesting and it is.
“In 1999 we organized an internship program and, today, we participate with Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Program and The Natural Gourmet Institute providing internship opportunities for their students. Interns come to work with our staff as practicum to complete their school's certificate program. This has been a happy alliance as some of our outstanding staff have been introduced to Mendocino and The Ravens through the school.”
“In the morning the Raven's Restaurant offers a large and extraordinary Breakfast Menu. Recognizing that most of our guests are not vegans, we offer a large variety of elegant, gourmet breakfast dishes to assure they will not miss bacon and eggs. Our dishes are traditionally associated with the finest breakfast restaurants in the United States.”
We had two amazingly delicious breakfasts. My waffle was unusual and I would love to get it again, it was so good. My husband’s fruit was great. The coffee was especially good. Juice was available. Breakfast was a great start to the day.
We also enjoyed tea-time at 3:30
We were interested to note that:
Local - Dishes based on locally harvested products from seaweed to morels.
Organic - 99% of our ingredients are organic and most produce is from regional organic growers or the Inn's California Certified Organic Farm.
Conscious - Vegetarian and Vegan cuisine. Products carefully selected to support sustainability.
Regard for the Land - Wine list comprised primarily of wines produced from certified organic vineyards, biodynamic vineyards, or those using sustainable, traditional farming practices.
Recycling - All food wastes are composted and the compost dug back into garden beds. All glass, papers, and cardboard are sent to recycling.
Ravens' Restaurant is independently owned and lovingly cared for by Jeff and Joan Stanford.
Some of the nicest features of the food in the restaurant were that the flavors were exceptional, the textures contrasted pleasingly and that the food was filling. On our travels, a number of people referred to their dining experience at The Ravens’ Restaurant and commented that they did not feel deprived and enjoyed the vegan fare. And since we were only eating vegan food for a couple of days, we also felt the additional benefit of increased energy and a general good feeling.
In the airport as we were leaving SF, I happened to talk with a woman who had also visited Stanford Inn at the Sea several years ago and noting the bag I was carrying with the logo from the inn, she commented she really needed to return because it was such a wonderful experience for her. Of course, it was for us too, and we hope to return soon.
Check the menu online:
RAVENS' RESTAURANT AT STANFORD INN BY THE SEA: Coast Highway and Comptche Ukiah Road, Mendocino, CA 95460
800-331-8884 • 707-937-5615 • Email: [email protected]
More about the food -
Since 1996, we have learned that the de rigeur kitchen with an ego centric executive chef, a creative and intense leader, simply does not work. Our kitchen is run by a director/coordinator whose responsibility is to assemble and knit the creative talents of all staff from those who primarily prepare the food for cooking to those who are actively producing the food on the line.
We are committed to reducing our impact on the environment and support sustainable agriculture through our purchases. We use no meat or meat products. All produce is organic, some produced by our California Certified Organic Farm - Big River Nurseries. And this year we celebrate 24 years of sustainable agriculture.
People who ate a strict macrobiotic diet including sea vegetables did not suffer from radiation poisoning even if they lived within a mile of the Nagasaki nuclear bombing.,
Umeboshi plum is a pickled apricot, not a plum.
Wasabi is from the rhizome of a semi-aquatic member of the cabbage family.
Shiitakes boost interferon production which is needed to fight bacteriological infections.
Broccoli contains folic acid, Vitamin A and beta carotene and boosts production of enzymes in the body that detoxify. Broccoli consumption helps prevent heart disease, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and cancer. Importantly, the calcium spectator content of broccoli can be as effective at lowering cholesterol as medication.
Cashews have less fat than almonds, peanuts, pecans and walnuts. High in proteins and essential fatty acid, they are also high in saturated fat. They enhance health in small amounts.
Edamame are green soybeans and are unprocessed except for cooking. High in protein, edamame contains all eight essential proteins, is nutrient dense and is associated with protecting against heart disease and cancer
Photos: Leon Keer