A letter from our chef:
Aaaaahhhh yesss! I’m utterly thrilled to have survived yet another winter. Not that the weather ever gets too harsh here in Southern California, but it’s the change in available produce that gets me excited. The vibrant and delicious bounty of Spring and Summer is upon us! This is my favorite time of year for four simple reasons – backyards, friends, sweet summer corn, and bright red juicy watermelon. In my world, you can measure how good the summer was, by how thoroughly tired of corn and watermelon you became by the end of it!
We have taken liberties with the usual narrow season for corn and watermelon, and through a diverse and rich supply chain, and a touch of recipe thoughtfulness, we’re now able to stretch the season and enjoy our summer favorites through spring as well. After all, if there’s one thing I learned this past year, it’s to simply enjoy what you can, when you can, and be present and grateful for it.
Without further ado, I present to you the seasonal specials for Spring & Summer 2021:
Our newest innovation, Watermelon ‘Poke’ Salad, is a plant-based riff on the ever-popular poke bowl. We dice fresh watermelon and marinate it in the style of tuna poke overnight, until the texture softens up and begins to resemble marinated tuna. Due to the deep umami nature of the savory marinade, the watermelon doesn’t have to be super sweet (or peak season) to dazzle in this recipe. The salad is made up of many veggies, including kale, romaine, spinach, napa cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts, cucumbers, edamame for protein, pickled daikon & carrots for acidity and crunch, cilantro, scallions, and is tossed with honey ginger ponzu vinaigrette.
After a two-year hiatus, an all-time favorite summertime sandwich, the Summer Street Corn with Chicken Sandwich, is coming back! It’s a riff on a torta, but deeply inspired by everybody’s favorite non-taco Mexican street snack…street corn! The heart of this sandwich is the street corn spread itself, which is rich and flavorful, and made by folding roasted corn, jalapeno, chipotle, garlic, scallion, lime, and cotija cheese into mayonnaise. We roast the chicken thigh meat with our al pastor marinade, carve it up, and layer it on a toasted sesame roll with street corn spread, roasted poblano & onion rajas, sliced tomatoes, shredded romaine, cilantro, and give it a final boost of heat spice with a drizzle of our house jalapeno salsa verde.
When the heirloom tomatoes hit full stride this summer, we will be adding another summer cult classic to the menu, the Summer Heirloom BLT. This one, though, will be a bit more fleeting. We keep it around only while heirloom tomatoes are at their best. Per the usual, we keep this one classic with thick, “steak-y” heirloom tomato slices, nicely seasoned with salt & black pepper just before serving, crispy nitrate-free Applewood smoked bacon, and dressed with thick Sir Kensington’s mayo, a handful of arugula, and a light drizzle of habanero honey to keep things spritely.
For our Spring soup lineup, we will offer our Chicken Tortilla soup for the omnivores, and Thai Coconut & Lemongrass, which is loaded with chunky vegetables, for the herbivores.
For Spring deli sides, we will bring back our French Green Beans & Feta, which is a confluence of textures, including crisp shaved fennel, toothsome green beans, Kalamata olives, feta and crunchy toasted almonds, dressed in a creamy lemon salsa verde dressing. Also, we will bring back our Farro Taboulleh-ish, which is a creamy riff on traditional tabbouleh, but with whole grain farro standing in for the bulgur, and loaded with cucumber, and many interesting flavor hits, including sweet hot pickled peppers, mint, parsley, cilantro, scallions, pickled golden raisins, and sumac yogurt dressing.
For Summer Soup, we will stick with our annual tradition of Creamy Corn Chowder, which is creamy roasted corn soup with onions, leeks, carrots, celery, a hint of chipotle, and fresh thyme.
For Summer Deli Sides, we will bring back the big new hit that was first introduced last year, Roasted Corn & Farro Salad, with tomatoes, red onions, arugula, basil, shredded Grana Padano cheese, and farro in a basil-dijon vinaigrette. Additionally, we will debut a new summery salad that I’m particularly excited about, Thai Watermelon & Cucumber Salad. It’s a super refreshing salad that includes chunks of watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes, jalapeno, green onion, and fresh mint, with an authentic Thai dressing, borrowed from the Thai classic, green papaya salad.
Both Summer Deli sides are robust and compelling enough to be called dinner, with the simple addition of a grilled piece of salmon. Do try this at home!!
I’m in absolutely no rush whatsoever to arrive at September, but when we do, I sincerely hope you will be as tired of sweet corn and juicy watermelon as I intend to be.
Chef Jeremy Bringardner