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Anaheim’s Poppy & Seed: A greenhouse eatery that evolves with each harvest

Seared scallops Seared scallops

Some restaurants rely on the known, their kitchens defined by specialties that, at their best, evolve into unchanging icons. That consistency is both comfortable and admirable, and is what defines the best neighborhood restaurants and many of our famed temples of fine dining. But then there are restaurants that are guided by the seasons. These are kitchens that constantly iterate, producing ever-changing menus.

Such is the case at Anaheim’s Poppy & Seed. The greenhouse restaurant is ringed by an on-site garden that provides its kitchen with herbs, vegetables, and fruit. From week to week, dishes evolve with each harvest. In fact, the restaurant itself is something of an evolution, guided by Michael and Kwini Reed, the husband-and-wife team behind L.A. brunch hot spot Poppy and Rose.

Beet and plum salad.

Beet and plum salad

Here, with help from the likes of Chef de Cuisine Jesse Baxter, the duo finally does dinner.

If it’s available, share a beet and plum salad to celebrate the garden’s bounty. Little Gem and butter lettuces are scattered with torn herbs and Marcona almonds and dressed with a lemon-shallot vinaigrette. The Texas Wagyu steak tartare is especially delicious, with pickled green beans, mustard seeds, cured egg yolk, and a charred eggplant puree that echoes the flavor of baba ghanoush.

Smoked duck breast.

Smoked duck breast

Smoked duck breast seems like a distant allusion to Peking duck. Thin wedges of persimmon, slivers of pickled onion and chiles, herbs, and honeycomb chunks are served with rye crepes in which to tuck savory-sweet bites. Wild local halibut keeps it simple with a tart, bitter citrus sauce, creamy cauliflower puree, peppers, and wilted greens. You won’t regret a side of the crispy mushrooms enriched with peas, ramps, mint, egg yolk, and pecorino, a dish hearty enough to all but stand on its own.

There’s no codified dessert menu here. But if your server happens to mention Eton mess, don’t dismiss it. Shards of crisp dehydrated meringue conceal a scoop of velvety raspberry sorbet, airy cream, and strawberries. It’s utterly refreshing.

Best dishes: Texas Wagyu steak tartare, smoked duck breast, grilled whole branzino, crispy mushrooms, Eton mess.

Dinner prices: Small plates, $14–$22; entrées, $30–$125; desserts, $12–$15.

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