Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rooster Cafe - Costa Mesa

When I dine out on a Saturday night, I'm even hungrier the next morning. Can't explain it, but that's how I am. I was jonesing for some pancakes or waffles. Had an excuse to venture somewhere new, but WHERE?! After some debate (and correspondence with my CM-centric yoga partner) I decided it was time to hit up Rooster Cafe. Worst case scenario, I'd cross the street to Memphis if it didn't work out. And away we go.

The former spot of Mitae Ramen (pause to pay respect to the little old lady) is about 30 seats large, indoors and out, with even fewer parking spots. The menu is posted chalkboard-like above the register slash kitchen. With maybe a dozen or so items total, your options are straightforward. The breakfast burrito appeared popular, but I stuck to my guns and asked for some French toast. Ok, I also got a side of Portugese sausage. Came out to $6.50. There's also a great cereal option, but I forgot to ask what was available. Lunch entrees include BLT-style sandwiches, a cobb, and the elusive French dip.

Wanted to take a moment to touch upon the beverage options. Soda fountain, iced tea, Mexican cocoa (they were out), Izze bottles, and beer. Bottles for $4.50. For a place whose hours on the weekends accommodate bar closings, I found it kinda funny (only because I'm not a beer drinker). 7am to 3pm most of the week, with another 10pm to 3am stint on Saturday and Sunday. Back to the breakfast.

I think there was a total staff of three covering the joint. If they weren't cooking, there was cashiering and bussing left to do. Very informal order taking at the register. With these prices, it was fine by me. We took the counter seats and read the paper. I took in my surroundings. As I remembered from my MR days, two walls were completely glass windowed. The back had four cubic light fixtures against a rusty red accent wall. That was about it. When it comes to eating breakfast, I am over the moon if there's more to it than the food. This was a clean, well-lit diner.

A short time later (10 minutes or less), my cashier slash server presented me with an oval black dish. Simply plated were four half slices of Texas sized toast with powdered sugar sprinkled all around. A smallish plate sat beside me with six bites of Portugese meat. Maybe I could've eaten more, but as I cleaned my plates empty I changed my mind. This was just enough sustenance to last me to our late lunch/early dinner. A little savory, a little sweet, a lot of comfort.

I need to start planning for next Sunday. Dim sum anyone?

Rooster Cafe
750 Saint Clair Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

btw - If anyone can explain the purpose of the two rice cookers, I'd be interested. There's no rice on the menu whatsoever. Perhaps it's slow cooking the French dip?

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Old Vine Cafe - Costa Mesa

It was a fulfilling Saturday morning.

I did something for my health - spin class
I did something for my man - bought him a trash can at IKEA
I did something for charity - donated to
I did something for the community - I supported a local business (more on that shortly)
and I did something for the environment - I purchased a cruelty-free handbag by

All in all, a rather productive 5 hours.

Old Vine Cafe fell into my radar maybe in the last week or so, upon reading a posting on Costa Mesa options. I enjoy just about everything to eat in this city, so after perusing their menu I decided to give it a go. Located at The Camp (across from The Lab/anti-mall - the ingenious non-SCP-like spot owned by the folks who own SCP) and strategically placed behind Native Foods, but next to Aire. This is a new joint which opened in the last few months.

Quoting the website, this is where the name originates from:
The cafe gets its name from the ancient vines of the old world wines of western Europe. "Old vines" are synonymous with wines of a unique quality, expressing the earth in which they are grown through the flavor of the grapes. Oh, and they've got a tiny retail section where you can purchase specialty produce, meats, and oils.

For a small space, they sure know how to seat a crowd. I staked my claim at one of the counter chairs. In front of me, a surreal view of the 'forest' that only the Camp can offer. If not for all the chatter, I imagine it would mimic a holodeck request (middle of the woods) on the Enterprise. Outdoor seating is also available for four-legged dining companions (one server offered up a dish of water to one owner's pet).

My menu was artfully attached to a lovely stretched canvas painting. The placesetting was accented with a small block vase. Thoughtful details that I adore. As I scanned over my options, I overheard a couple of guys comparing notes on how to cater a decent house party. One clearly thought food was more of an afterthought (because of all the lefover food you have afterwards) while the other explained how he recruited his neighbor to BBQ for him. Alrighty.

Savory or sweet? I ask myself this very question throughout the day. The breakfast menu was simply divided. Do I want the syrupy sweet french toast or the hearty portion of omelet with Spanish style potatoes, choice of toast and marmalade? I leaned for the hearty (as usual). If not for my dinner at Punch Grill that night, I would've dived into that BBQ omelet. Instead, it was the Omelet Espana for me. Ole!

I hoped to request fewer mushrooms, but was informed that the ingredients for this particular dish were already pre-mixed. No problem. Life could've made me wait longer for a I was just thankful to be served. I also chose the egg bread and blackberry marmalade (to go with my blackberry sage bottled ice tea. A bit overrated, if you ask me - the tea, I mean). After a short while ~ which only FELT like forever because I was famished ~ I was served.

I forgot how tasty proscuitto is. Mmmmmmm. Add to it some artichoke hearts, red bell peppers, shitake mushrooms, and Manchego cheese and we've got ourselves a winner. My expectations on the bread were pretty high, but I was (unfortunately) disappointed. Should've stuck to the wheat or sourdough, but I had to get all non-conformist. I bet the marmalade would've been excellent with those. Nevertheless, my potatoes more than made up for it. Chunky and saucy, they starched me out for the rest of the afternoon. Whatever they were smothered in was a welcome change from the standard hashy/fried fare served elsewhere.

I wish my trainer could've joined me, but that's what repeat visits are made for.
As much as I'd like to keep this spot to myself, I want to see them succeed.

Old Vine Cafe
2937 Bristol Street
Suite A-102
Costa Mesa

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