How can you improve Fourth Avenue, that mile-long street that bills itself as “The Heart of Tucson’s Nightlife” and features 21 restaurants? You add another one that showcases food fresh-from-the-farm and menus that change based on what was picked in the field that day.
“We are a new paradigm for the restaurant industry, supportive of the community, and representing an amalgam of people who do things in a different way,” says executive chef Rani Olson as she whips up a dish of garden-fresh beets on creamy polenta.
“We rely on seasonal spontaneity, whatever is ripe and ready for picking in the field.”
Olson, a culinary artist skilled in slow food preparation, beams as she talks about her new restaurant; she says the Food For Ascension Café is a plant-based, farm-to-table eatery where fresh is the key word. Food will be harvested from Avalon Organic Gardens in Tumacacori and other area farmers, resting only briefly in a walk-in cooler before a dish of “something made with the day’s ingredients” shows up on the menu board that evening.
Although refusing to be typecast as a pure vegan restaurant, Olson says it will come “pretty darn close” with the occasional egg and honey finding a place in a few offerings, though there are no meat items on the menu—just toxic-free, organic edibles, served in a tasty fashion.
The menu is split into “cold fork” and “hot fork” plates. A recent evening’s offerings included a marinated mushroom or pesto plate appetizer, lettuce lentil soup, roasted eggplant on baked polenta, and a rustic open-faced sandwich with oyster mushrooms.
The Chef says her savory offerings will be ever-changing. “We rely on seasonal spontaneity, whatever is ripe and ready for picking in the field,” she says. “Our gluten-free baked goods will be a fairly reliable staple because there are lots of grains grown locally and regionally, but for the rest, it’s whatever is in season.
“Let food be your medicine,” advised Hippocrates and, indeed, that’s what the new eatery is doing. “Food For Ascension Café will be a locavore’s paradise, a space of inspiration and education, evolving from the concept that the food we eat not only maintains and heals our bodies, but affects the mind as well because healthy foods help the brain work better,” says marketing manager Amadon DellErba.
The café offers inside seating for three dozen diners with more outdoor patio tables for al fresco dining. As a non-alcoholic venue, Food For Ascension will serve organic kombucha on tap along with home-made nut milks, juices, teas, “and some unique elixers,” says Olson.
“We’re excited to have the Food For Ascension Café joining the Fourth Avenue scene,” says Kurt Tallis on behalf of the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association. “Our little street of dreams continues to attract the best entrepreneurial spirits and the Café is a welcome addition.” ✜
Food For Ascension Café. 330 East 7th St. , 520.882.4736. FoodForAscension.org.