Eatery - Avanti Cafe (CA)

Avanti Cafe on Urbanspoon

259 E 17th St, Costa Mesa, CA 92628
Pricing - $/$$ | Dining - Casual | Cuisine - Vegetarian

*NOTE: This is a review of the restaurant based on its offerings as given during OC Wine Week.

My friend had had this placed bookmarked on her Yelp for a while but never got the occasion to try it out until we saw that it was participating in OC Wine Week. That meant that we could snag a delicious prix fixe lunch and sample what they felt was their appropriate offerings for the week. There were two options for lunch so since we were fine with sharing, we both got one of each and tried everything together. I'll touch on the options one at a time.

The first part of option #1 was their cannellini bean & kabocha squash chowder. We both felt that the soup was actually a bit bland, particularly for a chowder. It came with some delicious bread but the soup wasn't memorable. My friend just ate it just to finish it. It could've done with some more salt and pepper, which the restaurant had in a nice looking container!

The main course of option #1 was a grilled cheese sandwich ("havarti & white cheddar, blood orange honey Dijon, garlic shallot arugula & spinach melted to perfection on our Avanti cranberry walnut bread served w/ a side of dressed organic mixed greens"). It was certainly melted to perfection as they say. I think what really made this sandwich amazing was the bread that it came with; we even asked the waiter about the origin of the bread to see if it was house-made or if we could find it somewhere ourselves. Unfortunately for us, it wasn't available outside of the restaurant. Great bread! The cheeses were nicely offset by the sweetness of the bread and the honey Dijon. The accompanying salad was only okay.

Option #2 didn't have a starter but had a dessert finish which I will touch on in just a second. The entree was their "organic fire roasted tomato cream sauce pasta w/ roasted garlic yellow corn, cheddar cheese, fresh herbs & pepitas." It was very, very good. The pasta was cooked to the right texture, and the sauce wasn't overwhelming. It coated everything nicely but wasn't heavy as cream sauces tend to be. The corn and fresh herbs definitely made it a refreshing, summery lunch dish. I really enjoyed this entree.

The first option came with a pour of Cono Sur Viognier 2008 from Colchagua Valley in Chile, a very light white that seemed like it would be complimentary to a large variety of dishes. The finish didn't linger but it made its point. The second lunch option came with a pour of Shannon Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 from Lake County, CA. It was a nice pair with the tomato cream sauce pasta being rich and highlighting the tomato flavors appropriately. A full-bodied red, it surprisingly wasn't as "bad" in my opinion than other reds I've had (I'm not partial to reds but will drink them); it really helped that it was a good match with the pasta.

Dessert was part of option #2 but it was hardly a dessert for one person. My friend and I had to work on it together to finish it. A chocolate walnut brownie w/café mocha ice cream and drizzled in both chocolate and caramel sauces, this was one heavy end course. The brownie was very moist though. The ice cream had an icy-like consistency but I think that was due to the fact that it was vegan so didn't have eggs in to be the emulsifier. The sauces were a bit overwhelming but we powered through. What I remember is how many walnut pieces we got! A solid and delicious dessert, that brownie was one I wouldn't want to tackle alone.