Mandolin Aegean Bistro Owners Launch Organic Garden and Announce Plans for New Eatery, Poor Man's Lobster

At Mandolin Organic Garden, Ahmet Erkaya shades his eyes from the gleaming afternoon sun. He walks towards a young cranberry hibiscus plant and rapidly pulls a leaf from the vibrant violet-red herbage. He eagerly hands it over for me to sample. "He's completely obsessed with this plant," says his wife, Anastasia Koutsioukis.

The leaf has a shocking, clean, potent citrus flavor.

"It's served with single-origin Cretan extra virgin olive oil and a touch of fresh lemon juice. And a sprinkle of salt," says Erkaya.

Simple ingredients -- fresh ones, at least -- don't need anything else.

Three years ago, the couple opened Mandolin Aegean Bistro, the Buena Vista eatery known equally for its fresh fare and dainty setting.

But, on its menu, there are a couple of words that you will never find. These include "local", "farm-to-table", or "farm fresh". You won't see the lineage for the lamb or for the tomatoes printed anywhere, either. Erkaya and Koutsioukis prefer if ingredients speak for themselves.

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Emily Codik