The Stanford Inn By-The-Sea in Mendocino, CA is more than a charming inn and resort. An eco-resort close to the ocean and the country’s only vegan resort, Stanford Inn is dedicated to sustainable practices and vegan eating and living. The resort sits atop a meadow overlooking Mendocino Bay and surrounded by organic gardens and lush vegetation. On the top level of the main building is their vegan restaurant Raven’s Restaurant, where we greeted by sous chef Gabrielle Tabor and owner Jeff Stanford who made us at ease immediately, recommending various dishes to try.
We started with crostini bread with hazelnut and brazil pate served with grilled figs and then gluten-free bread with roasted eggplant and sesame seeds. They have a number of delicious small plates and orgasmic ones worth noting include their dos tacos biologicos, which is Jalapenos, crimini mushrooms, onions and shredded cabbage, stopped with a pico de gallo & lime creme fraiche, and their Sea Palm & Root vegetable strudel, which is made with local sea palm, carrots, onions in sesame phyllo and topped with umeboshi and wasabi sauces. Their salads are also to-die for, especially the Heirloom Tomato Salad with garden greens, fig and basil chiffinade. (see below). Frankly, it was my favorite including what I ordered for main courses.
The ingredients are 99% organic and most of the produce is from regional organic growers or the Inn’s California Certified Organic Farm. The wine list is also comprised primarily of wines produced from certified organic vineyards, biodynamic vineyards, or those using sustainable, traditional farming practices.
Below is my second favorite dish on the menu: Ravioli, which is housemade with sweet potato and sundried tomato pasta filled with roasted garlic, shallots, and pureed Brazil and Hazel nuts. It is served with braised greens and a saffron beurre blanc sauce. (there’s also saffron white wine and onion reduction sauce – let’s just say YUM!) and like everything on the menu, incredibly fresh.
Other things on the menu worth noting include their Tamales which is filled with roasted bell peppers, zucchini, spinach, red onion and cashew cheese and their Moussaka, which is layered eggplant, potato, tomato, zucchini, spiced lentils with almond bechamel and a quinoa tabouli with kale dolma and a sesame dill sauce. For dessert, we tried the mint chocolate ganache tart and the carrot cake, which was coated with an extremely creamy icing.
Since I also stayed at their inn, I had the added pleasure of having breakfast there two mornings in a row and I can assure you, their breakfast offerings are all scrumptious not to mention beautifully presented. They start you off with a fresh juice of your choice, which can include carrot, grapefruit, apple and tomato. They also have a variety of teas and coffees to choose from, including rarities like Hojicha Green, Yerba Mate, African Nectar, and Detox Infusion and choice teas, such as Northwest Blackberry, Liquorice Peppermint and White Peony.
Now for the breakfast choices. Be prepared to get hungry! Between our table and our neighbor’s table, we sampled and partook in the following dishes: Garden Scramble, which is seasoned with tofu or tempeh and braised seasonal garden vegetables, the Stanford Citrus Polenta, which is grilled citrus polenta with garden greens and cashew cream sauce and the Portobello Benedict, which is served with a housemade English muffin, spinach, grilled tomato and marinated Portobello slices and a Hollandaise sauce. Most of the dishes are served with a choice of country potatoes, sweet potatoes or refried pinto beans. We also sampled the Frittata, which is baked sundried tomato, spinach and wild mushroom savory tofu frittata, topped with grilled tomatoes and housemade sour cream.
The Ravens’ was named for the raven pair who moved into the trees above the current site of the restaurant before in 1995 before they broke ground. They have since learned that ravens were once common, but were killed by immigrants to the area during the early years of logging. It’s not the only interesting story you’ll hear when you dine at Raven’s Restaurant. If you’re not from the area, we recommend staying at Stanford Inn as well and taking in their eco-resort experience. The entire staff is friendly, helpful and consciously aware. Below on the left is Gabrielle Tabor, Raven’s sous chef.
This place is to die-for and even if you’re not vegan, the restaurant is a must stop if you’re in the Mendocino / Fort Bragg CA area. The food is so delicious, so fresh and so creatively prepared that you’d be hard pressed to believe that you’re actually eating a vegan meal. And, think about how healthy you’ll feel afterwards while supporting consciously aware and sustainable food practices. Hats off to Jeff, Joan and his team for an outstanding experience!
Disclosure: I was hosted by Raven’s Restaurant but all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.