This past March at Expo West Lindsay and I attended an amazing event. We went to an exclusive first tasting at the Anaheim Hilton. Frederic Castan, the Executive of Mix Lounge at Anaheim Hilton, put together a four course vegan and gluten free tasting menu that delighted our taste buds.
The first course was a salad trio that was light, refreshing, and surprising. The first salad in the trio was compressed watermelon and ginger with marcona almonds, grapefruit, and arugula drizzled in a light balsamic dressing. I loved this salad and think it would be perfect for a hot day. It was sweet and acidic, balanced by the almonds that added a satisfying textural crunch. My next favorite of the trio was the baby beet salad with golden and red beets, watermelon radish, and baby greens. It was topped with black truffles and dressed with a mixture of blood orange, truffle oil, basil, and garlic. The first bite sent me away with the rich smokiness of the truffles and the beets provided an unexpected protein like texture. Lastly there was a savory baby lettuce salad with shitake mushrooms, blistered cherry tomatoes, resting on a balsamic reduction and drizzled in a herb vinaigrettes. The salad was tasty, but not nearly as show stopping as the first two. I also ate all the salads in the order I wrote about them as I had a sense of how the progression of flavors might be. My feelings about the baby lettuce salad might be different if I had is before the beets, but we will never know.
The second course was a gluten-free risotto made up of four different grains; job’s tear, millet, quinoa, and sorghum. It was cooked in vegetable broth and had a tomato base flavored with basil olive oil. The flavor profile was rounded out by the addition of corn, asparagus, and red peppers. It was also nicely garnished with an edible Nasturtium flower. The risotto’s texture was fantastic and I’ll say I preferred the four-grain mixture over traditional risotto. Also, I was surprised by how the corn and asparagus helped to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
The entrée was four delicious satisfying vegetables cooked in various styles and flavors. An artichoke heart with beet leaves and a slice of tomato on top satisfied a hearty meat like texture. A stuffed Portobello mushroom with an eggplant and capers filling on a pea puree that gave it a fresh almost minty flavor. The Thai four vegetable coconut milk curry with red bell pepper, shitake mushroom, and green beans was my favorite, second to the artichoke heart. It had that right amount of sweetness and brightness. I’m not a big fan of red bell peppers, and the vegan gluten free paella tasted just like the aspect of red bell peppers I don’t like. The texture was good, but for me, it wasn’t my thing.
Dessert was a refreshing lychee sorbet with fresh berries and a berry puree that melted in my mouth. Lychee has a different kind of citrus flavor, a cross between lemon and grapefruit without the tartness.
Some might feel gluten free or vegan are merely buzz words or silly diet restrictions, but to those with celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and have a conviction in their heart to not eat meat or animal byproducts, vegan and gluten free is a way of life. To be able to provide not only nourishment, but a pleasurable fine dining experience is a beautiful way of recognizing the person and their choices. I’m thrilled Mix Lounge is opening up their menu and now those in Anaheim have a luxe option to take a vegan or gluten free date.
What about you? Have you been to Mix Lounge? Do you look for vegan or gluten free options when dining out? Post in the comments and let us know.