A good salad is hard to find.
It’s a Goldilocks conundrum where they’re too big or too small, too hot or too cold, too fancy or too boring. Food Mechanic in Sebastopol, however, does salad just right.
Our favorite starts with perky little leaves of Little Gem lettuce that are sweet, crunchy and greener than spring grass. Add crumbles of Pt. Reyes blue cheese, thinly-sliced Asian pear, salty almonds, sweet golden raisins and sprigs of fresh dill, then casually (but artistically) compose in a rustic wooden bowl with purple peppers and creamy herbed dressing. Top with a smattering of roasted maitake mushrooms and it’s a light but filling meal you’ll dream about the rest of the week. Maybe longer.
Owners Shane Dykhuis and Anne Zuelke have created a bright, sunny little cafe with a modern, minimalist design that frames the Instagrammy, plant-forward dishes like roasted broccoli and red quinoa bowl with preserved lemon vinaigrette, sweet corn and cherry tomatoes with avocado and feta, heirloom tomato soup, spiced lentils or hearty chocolate chip cookies. It’s not a lengthy menu, but everything is gluten-free, mostly organic and sourced from local farms.
Both are graduates of Bauman College, which focuses on holistic, natural eating. Dykhuis gets his culinary chops from working at the Boonville Hotel and as a corporate chef while Zuelke manages front of the house.
“It’s high-quality portable food,” said Dykhuis. “People are on the move and everyone has places to be. Time is short, but eating well is important.”
Don’t miss the fruit jigglers, made with beef collagen. They’ll take you back to your childhood, with the added bonus of being healthy for your hair and nails.
Food Mechanic is at 980 Gravenstein Highway South, Sebastopol, 707-827-6044, foodmechanic.com. Open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.