Oh yes, hi there. Remember when I wrote about our little jaunt to Mendocino? Well, not only was the scenery gorgeous, but the food was quite divine as well!
We arrived in Mendocino just in time for a late lunch. Pub food and beer sounded perfect, so we headed to Patterson’s Pub. Sorry there aren’t any photos — we were both too famished to document our lunch. TC had their famous fish & chips (awesome!!) and a pint of oatmeal stout (just ok, but then again, I’m not an oatmeal stout kind of girl). I opted for the Philly cheese steak with a side salad and a Racer 5 IPA. The cheese steak was nothing like the one I had in Philly but it was still quite good — juicy, well-marinated, and black peppery. The salad, however, sucked. Not only were the vegetables sort of tasteless, but the dressing was downright bland. (Sidenote: How is it even possible to make bland dressing?? Can’t you add enough vinegar/salt/fat to make it taste like something?!) Anyway, despite the lame salad, we were very happy with our meal.
We weren’t quite ready to eat dinner when the hour came around, but we heard that restaurants closed on the early side. So we skidaddled over to the Mendocino Cafe. Their award-winning clam chowder lived up to the hype. Really tasty stuff. Since we weren’t very hungry, we decided to share a salad and an entrée. Again, we were disappointed by the salad of warm spinach with cucumbers and onions. Something about it was really off/weird tasting. Luckily, the Thai fire pot was awesome: green curry based broth with veggie, shrimp, and brown rice.
Since TC was treating me to this fabulous weekend, I offered to take us out to a fancy-schmancy meal. After doing some research, I decided on Cafe Beaujolais. We were seated in a quiet corner of the heated deck, which seemed a little odd at first. However, our hostess explained that there was a rambunctious party with lots of small children in the main dining area, so it appeared that we lucked out. Due to the low lighting, though, the pictures are less than stellar, so you’ll have to take my word for it when I tell you that the food tasted way better than it looks in these photos.
First up: black bean soup with feta, cilantro, and sausage. Anyone who knows me knows that I loathe cheese made from goat or sheep milk, even something relatively mild like feta. However, this soup was so delicious that I didn’t even mind. I would have inhaled a gallon of it were it not for the fact that we still had more food to eat. (sorry no photo)
We ordered two appetizers (yes, we were going ALL out; plus we didn’t eat lunch that day!). The butter braised beets with polenta cake, creamy cheese, and greens was certainly interesting and good, but the crab cakes stole the show. They were served with Asian slaw, a magnificent sauce, and crispy noodles. Afterwards, TC confessed that he doesn’t usually like crab cakes but this was, in his opinion, the standout dish of the whole meal.
On to the main courses! TC ordered spanikopita with a side of kale, potatoes, and onion. Sadly, to me it tasted like a standard Quiche and was nothing to write home about. I expected at the very least for the filo dough to be amazing, but nope. TC concurred, and ended up liking the sides better than spanikopita.
I debated all day (ok maybe not all day, but at least a good 30 minutes) whether or not I should order their most famous dish: sturgeon with tagliatelle mushroom sauce, served with golden beets. The reason for my indecision? I was afraid that my expectations might be unreasonable and that I would end up disappointed. Also, sometimes restaurants (even the good ones) overcook fish and it comes out all dry and yucky. Luckily, none of these fears came true! The fish was perfectly cooked and the sauce was OMG AMAZING. One of the best sauces I’ve ever tasted — so rich and flavorful. I can still imagine it now, and it is still making my mouth water. I do have to say that I found the beets a little odd and out-of-place, but the sturgeon, sauce, and pasta more than made up for it.
We washed it all down with a half bottle of (local) Navarro Pinot Noir, which not only was the best value, but also paired well with the sturgeon. Score! We were too full to get dessert but in our imaginary, bottomless stomach worlds, we would’ve shared the champagne apple tarte tatin and the flourless chocolate lava cake. Both a la mode, of course.
We liked the Mendocino Cafe so much that we went back for lunch! This time, TC got the hot pastrami sandwich with a side of potato salad and I got the veggie bowl, which consisted of ginger broth with bean thread vermicelli. Both were awesome; a perfect ending to our mini-vacation!