Taste of Summer
Skyview Los Alamos’ Norman brings a new season of flavors to the table
Written by Morgan Allen
Set on a vineyard-covered hill above the commotion of the 101, Skyview Los Alamos gazes down on me from the gravel parking lot at the base of the slope. I begin my ascent towards the sky, guided by a line of palm trees planted along the driveway. What I find at the top can only be described as the exact opposite of what you imagine hearing the words “roadside motel.” From green cacti contrasted against stark white and brown modern ranch style buildings, to copper and gold accents, the property exudes simplistic beauty.
Norman restaurant itself radiates eclectic elegance, fusing the refinement of an upscale resort with the welcoming warmth of a local pub. Natural light bathes a room of plush circular booths, intimate tables, and a line of bar stools in burnt orange, turquoise, white, and royal blue. Wide windows transform the restaurant into a looking glass, illuminating the beautiful mountain scenery and stellar sunset views.
I start with a drink from Norman’s newly launched line of specialty mocktails. Created by popular demand, each concoction delivers an authentic taste of the best cocktails, without the buzz. It’s the perfect way to enjoy a fun drink then drive back to Santa Barbara.
My first mocktail is Bright Eyed, a light green mixture of non-alcoholic gin, mint leaves, lime juice, agave, and cucumber elderflower soda, topped with a cucumber spiral. The carbonated kick awakens my taste buds, cleansing my palate in preparation for Chef Dustin Badenell’s spring menu.
Evolving with the seasons, Badenell creates a menu using only ingredients sourced from the farms around Norman, relying on the abundance of the land to inspire fresh dishes year round. To ensure rich options for food sensitive individuals like myself, the menu is designed with vegan, gluten free and dairy free alternatives in mind, ensuring a delicious culinary experience for every customer.
I begin with the popular starter of roasted cauliflower, mighty cap mushrooms, toasted almonds, and shishito peppers laid across a bed of green romesco and chili garlic oil–a presentation of color and vibrancy that culminates in an explosion of flavors and textures. Each bite marries the sensation of energy and comfort, leaving a kick of fire from the chili garlic oil lingering in my mouth. Paired with my second mocktail, a sunset in a glass mixing Lyre’s Italian Orange, non-alcoholic Freixenet, tonic water, and adorned with a dehydrated orange, I feel my palate settle into the bliss of spring.
Mid sip of Sunset Spritz, the Spring Salad is placed before me, characterized by the pop of pink candy cane beets amidst a blend of simple mixed greens. Tossed in a honey mustard vinaigrette and accented with a citrus spice fusion of tajin toasted cashews, the salad is refreshing and light, the perfect pairing for a warm day lounging poolside.
The capstone of my meal is the vegan entree–a beautiful crescent shaped display of spaghetti squash, artichoke hearts, roasted parsnips, and sundried tomatoes atop a spread of basil walnut pesto, garnished with a lemon zest. One bite and I understand why this dish is one of Norman’s most popular; its melody of ingredients produces a warm, sweet, and savory mixture, an experience of ultimate vegan comfort food. The sun dried tomatoes give a kick of salt to the dish, emphasizing the richness of the pesto flavor and complementing the sweetness of the parsnips.
My last drink plays on a whiskey sour, complete with whipped egg white foam atop the blend of lemon juice, Monday non-alcoholic whiskey, Lyre’s Italian Orange, and pomegranate juice. The contrast of white foam to purple liquid offers a sour yet gentle and round mouthful, sweetened to perfection.
I descend back to my car, refreshed and satiated, the vibrancy of Chef Badenell’s light, citric, and warming melody of flavors, an embodiment of springtime breeze in each delicious bite, lingering on my lips.