OC Restaurant Week is usually a let-down for us – we often never go back to the place because the food turns out to be not that great… And then I forget to blog about it because it’s so unremarkable. But, even with great prix-fixe lunches at Marche Moderne and Old Vine Cafe, I still find myself suckered into this foodie trap. This year, to minimize the disappointment factor, I tried one of the 10 lunch dollar options – 118 Degrees.
118 Degrees is a raw food vegan restaurant in my favorite hangout – the CAMP shopping center – and a restaurant, I think, is a little hard for newbies to approach. I like vegetarian/vegan food, but my image of raw cuisine was crunchy, BM-fixing salads and dehydrated veggie chips that are ridiculously expensive.
This is when April comes in. April is the pastry chef at The Restaurant I work at who happens to be a raw food vegan. The desserts and the staff meals she makes are mostly raw vegan, and they are NOT crunchy salads – they are, in fact, very delicious normal-looking foods. She doesn’t look her age at all, and she tells me that she’s been growing younger since switching from macrobiotic vegan to raw vegan four years ago. Curious, no? So here I am, at 118 Degrees, looking for an enlightenment.
Like all restaurant establishments in the CAMP, 118 Degrees is usually packed. Unlike the other restaurants in the CAMP, the clientele at 118 Degrees is a mosaic of tattooed alt hipsters, business people, and OC house wives for buoys for boobs. We went around the beginning of the lunch hour to beat the crowd.
For starters, Twigs had the Sweet Golden Squash Soup with Farm Herbs grown at 118, Olive and Grape Tomato Skewer.
It looked really fluffy, like a ‘mushroom cappucino’ or whatever fancy shiz they serve at French restautants.
Since anything in the squash family makes me itchy, I opted for the Red Chard Salad with Marinated Onions, Olives and Sweet Basil Dressing. Raw food cuisine utilizes a lot of salt and vinegar to ‘cook’ hard greens like chard and kale. That said, it was a well flavored salad that was very enjoyable in small amounts. Very herby too.
Om Wrap with Curry Sauce, Chopped Farm Vegetables, and Root Vegetable Wrap. Topped with Crispy Onions and Avocado Lime Sauce. I didn’t touch it because it had my enemy (eggplants) in it. Basically a burrito filled with marinated vegetables – very filling, apparently.
The Baja with Crispy Shell and 5 Layers of Spanish Flavors (Fajitas Sauce, Guacamole and our tomatillo salsa). Now this. This was good. The crispy shell was made of dehydrated vegetable puree (carrots?) that had a nice crumbly texture to it. It went really well with the salad and nut cheese shebang that was going on on top. Very garlicy, and the tomatillo salsa was HOT.
Daily Dessert Bite Duo - Chocolate Truffle, Coconur Macaroon, Berry Puree. I generally dislike vegan desserts because it’s heavy on coconut (shreds, oils, milk.. Grisly and oily.)… And this was no exception. However, its small portion made it less of a discomfort.
But wait! Theres more. Since the food was good and the price point during lunch is relatively low, we came back the following week to try out their regular menu.
Twigs had the Baja Burrito (12) – Stuffed with Marinated Mushrooms, Spinach, Corn, Red Bell Pepper, avocado, Roja Salsa and Spicy Cheese. Topped with Sour Cream and Cilantro sauce. You feel like you’ve been really nice to yourself by eating such a hefty salad wrap. Pretty good.
I had the Portabello Panini (12 or 13?) – which was raw bread (house made kamut bread), marinated portabello mushrooms, swiss chard salads, kalamata olives, red onions, and some sort of a vinaigrette. A bit hard to eat, so I broke the bread into chunks and topped it with a salad, like a canape. It’s very strong with the red onions and whatnot, just the way I like it. And HEFTY. I left most of the second slice of the bread.
I wouldn’t call 118 Degrees a vegan restaurant that’s meat-eater friendly – I mean, they try, but the nature of the cuisine can be a little intimidating for the average meat-and-taters person. That said, I wouldn’t take my husband here, but it’s a fun and interesting place to have a lunch date/date night with your girlfriends (they DO serve some wine). If you want to explore deeper into the world of veganism, or just want to eat a little healthier in full-service dining setting, it’s *the* place to go.
2981 Bristol Suite (in the CAMP, with Outer Limits and Valhalla Table)
Costa Mesa, CA 92626