Nestled on a quiet corner on upper De la Vina Street, you may or may not have noticed Mimosa. For the past 27 years, the restaurant has been serving some of the best French cuisine found in Santa Barbara. This week — Tuesday through Thursday — it will celebrate with a 27th anniversary special: a three-course pix fixe meal with a glass of wine for $27.
The restaurant opened in 1983 under Ann and Camille Schwartz, but since 2000 it has been run by Chris and Derrick Melton, who worked in the kitchen in the 1990s before moving to San Francisco to experience myriad other styles of cooking. They bought the restaurant from the Schwartzes in 2005.
The Meltons are graduates of SBCC’s culinary program, and they say they’re excited to be back in Santa Barbara serving what they consider the city’s only true French dining experience.
“I chose to stay with French cooking after cooking many different styles because it’s the mother of all cuisines,” Derrick Melton said as he stirred an aromatic sauce next to a pan of golden sauteed onions that could be smelled from a block away. “I’ve always believed that things are done right here [at Mimosa]. French cuisine is the core of modern cooking — it’s a good base and palate to work from.”
Many of Mimosa’s ingredients come from Santa Barbara County, although some specialty items, such as frog legs, have to be imported from overseas.
“The basis of French cuisine and a lot of what we do is regional cooking,” Derrick Melton said. “We utilize what we have in the Santa Barbara County area before we look at outside sources.”
Four of Mimosa’s five chefs are also from the SBCC cooking program, and the Meltons said that other than a few decorative upgrades in the dining area, very little has changed about the restaurant over the years.
Touting traditional French dishes and house-made desserts, Mimosa, at 2700 De la Vina St., has different menu options to appeal to every type of lunch and dinnertime diner. The staff arrives early — it takes three hours to do all of the prep work required for the lunch and dinner crowds — but the Meltons say they like to keep their kitchen mellow.
“Most of our staff comes and stays for a while,” Chris Melton said. “We don’t have the craziness and turnover that’s typically found in other restaurants.”
Glass of Louie Latour Ardeche or Chateau Valmoisinne Pinot Noir
Soup du Jour
Petite Alsatian Onion Tart
Chicken Canneloni: served with a tomato coulis and bechmel
Salmon Napoleon: layers of salmon, mushroom duxelle, spinach and puff pastry; served with a tomato saffron cream sauce
Cassoulet Maison: raised pork, layered with flagiolets, duck confit and bratwurst
Chicken en Croute: tender chicken breast, ham, mushrooms and caramelized onion wrapped in puff pastry; served with a fennel and leek coulis
Petite Meringue Mimosa
Lemon Mousse Cake
— Noozhawk staff writer Ben Preston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.