Getting Seafood Right: Nirvana Grille
We’re always on the lookout for restaurants that are getting it right when it comes to sustainable seafood, and it’s great that we are able to find quite a few in our own backyard, Laguna Beach.
Nirvana Grille is owned and operated by Chef Lindsay Smith-Rosales and her husband Luis Rosales. A Laguna Beach native, Lindsay started her career at the local Orange Coast College in culinary arts. In 2006 she and Luis opened their first restaurant in Mission Viejo before adding the Laguna Beach location in 2008.
Nirvana offers many vegetarian dishes and is constantly changing their menu according to the season and what is available and sustainable. One of my favorite dishes is their Basil Aioli Crusted Arctic Char Trout, a delicious fish similar to salmon but without the “fishiness.” It is smothered in a delectable, homemade basil aioli and served with sautéed baby bok choy and organic jasmine rice (although I always request sautéed spinach instead). Arctic char is mostly farmed in the US in land-based, closed systems reducing pollution risk and habitat impacts. Char has a flavor profile between trout and salmon, with fat content close to sockeye salmon. The flesh is light pink with fine flakes. I recommend asking for it to be cooked medium rare, so it is flaky on the outside and moist and delicious on the inside.
Arctic Char, by US Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons License
Another absolutely mouthwatering dish is their Nirvana Vegetable Plate. This dish combines all of their organic and locally grown produce on one plate, all cooked to perfection. And what better way to support sustainable seafood than by abstaining from fish altogether for a night or two? With a dish like this (accompanied with a side of their basil aioli) you will not miss the protein.
Saute of Arctic Char fillet, by Vancity Allie, via Flickr, Creative Commons License
Nirvana is dedicated to offering high-quality ingredients that adhere to a “clean” policy of using locally-sourced ingredients as much as possible, and only buying meat that is free from hormones and antibiotics, organic free-range poultry and sustainable seafood. They strive to minimize their carbon footprint and reduce their impact on the environment.
Chef Lindsay continually looks for new ways to make sustainable seafood delicious, and always buys from responsible and sustainable vendors. She has removed all seafood that is not fully sustainable from her menu. Previously Chilean seabass was her best seller, but the overfished, harmfully harvested species is no longer offered at Nirvana Grille. Selling a fish that is overfished and on the brink of extinction, is against Chef Lindsay’s values and what she and her family stand for. This restaurant is truly forward-thinking and a great place to take in a meal in a picturesque surrounding.
Chef Lindsay Smith-Rosales, by Nirvana Grille