Restaurant Review: Old Vine Cafe, Costa Mesa, CA

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(Photo Credit tripadvisor.com)

I’ve been to Old Vine Cafe numerous times, so this review is a blend of many experiences. The restaurant is located in a hipster shopping area call “The Camp”.

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(Photo Credit ocreader.com)

Old Vine Cafe itself is a tiny little restaurant tucked away in a corner with an open storefront so you are free to people watch all the hipters during your meal. Being so small you definitely need to make reservations ahead of time, especially if you plan to come with a group larger than two.

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(Photo Credit www.kevineats.com)

My two personal favorite menus at Old Vine are the original tasting menu, and the premium tasting menu. Both are 4 courses with wine pairing. The original tasting menu starts off with sauteed sea scallops served on yucca topped with a tarragon Chardonnay sauce, paired with a French Chardonnay. The scallops were perfectly seared, the sauce was rich without being overpowering, and the wine was acidic enough to cut through the cream sauce and cleanse the pallet. Well balances, excellent seasoning, and expert wine pairing.

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(Photo Credit www.inomthings.com)

The first dish on the premium menu starts off equally light, with a bit larger portions and a bit more expensive wine pairing. The sauteed shrimp are served on glass noodles in a lemon grass curry sauce. In Italian fashion, the sauce is rich and creamy like a good cheese sauce. The wine pairing was a 2007 German Riesling that was rich and sweet just like the curry sauce.

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(Photo Credit evasmith.files.wordpress.com)

The second course of the original menu is a classic Italian staple. Handmade fettuccini with the best tomato sauce and romano you could find in Orange County. Delicious, but worth the price of the meal? Actually yes. For how reasonably priced the entire meal is, on top of how well the Piedmonte Barbera pairs with this dish, my mind was blown and I was hooked on Old Vine.

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(Photo Credit www.inomthings.com)

After the large portion first course of the premium tasting menu, I was a little disappointed at the size of the second course. This course was a single ravioli stuffed with duck, goat cheese, and porcini mushrooms in a butter sage sauce. What this dish lacked in size it made up for in intense flavor and richness. You couldn’t eat more than one of these raviolis if you tried. This dish was paired with a fruity Montepulciano, probably my favorite wine of the night.

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(Photo Credit www.kevineats.com)

The last great dish of the night was the filet minon served in a rich cream sauce with fried onions, served with the typical Cabernet Sauvignon; a slightly spicier Argentinean varietal. So rich, but small enough you didn’t feel too horrible about eating up every last bite of the dish.

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(Photo Credit www.inomthings.com)

The entree of the premium menu was tasty, but honestly not that memorable. I don’t dream of coming back for the lambchops in a blueberry malbec sauce. Perfectly cooked, perfectly tender, but pails in comparison with the first and second courses.

Finally, neither of the deserts were really much to write home about. Not to end on a bad note though! In the end, the first and second courses of the premium tasting menu, and the first three courses of the original tasting menu were mind blowing, and at $60 a person for the meal, this is a phenomenal dinner you can enjoy on more than just special occasions.