The next revolution in Mexican food may have just begun, where Chef Anne Conness decided to look in the opposite direction. Anne bases the food at Sausal on the mostly forgotten cuisine of Spanish California from the mid-1800s, as documented in a rare cookbook written by a Hispanic woman in 1898. Those recipes are a blend of Spanish, Mexican, Basque, and native ideas – meat is cooked with dried fruit and pickled chilies, stews and sauces thickened with powdered almonds and enlivened with vinegar. It’s a foreign cuisine to modern Californians, and it came from the place we all live.
Conness’ take on this cuisine is served in an elegant space that has been transformed from the Indian restaurant that used to be here. A fireplace takes up the center of the room, its flickering light occasionally outdone by the flare of flames from the grill in the open kitchen. There is an interesting blend of rustic and sophisticated elements in both the architecture and décor. It’s not overtly Spanish or Mexican, but you start noticing those themes after you’ve been there a while.