With so many restaurants in the greater Newport Beach area, it’s easy for us to miss one, or have one on our culinary radar for far too long.
One of those is Old Vine Café at The Camp in Costa Mesa. Old Vine opened eight years ago, yet despite frequenting other restaurants at The Camp, we’ve never made it to Old Vine—until now.
We were recently invited to a media tasting to sample Old Vine Café Chef and Owner Mark McDonald’s fall menu, which leans toward creative interpretations of Italian dishes. We also had Italian wines paired with each of the five courses.
We began with wild spot prawns with blood orange, fennel, arugula, and chili oil, paired with a French Chablis. This was a nice starter considering the hot weather, and a nice intro to what was to come: seafood brodetto (soup) paired with a soave classico. Chef McDonald came around to each diner and poured hot brodetto over the seafood.
“This is a perfect fall dish—it’s hot and hearty, yet still delicate,” said Christopher.
The next dish was fregola sarda (Sardinian couscous) with olives, tomatoes and ricotta, paired with a frapatto terrre Sicilian.
“I love the combination of flavors and textures of this dish,” said Christopher.
Fourth course was porcini mushroom risotto with braised pork cheek and pork demi, paired with a Negroamaro Salento IGT.
“It’s always hard to find risotto that is cooked for the right amount of time, but you won’t have any complaints if you have it here—it’s worth the wait,” added Catherine
The meal ended with a strawberry mint ice cream float paired with a moscato.
“Each item was prepared with thought; from the perfect amount of cooking time for each individual item to how they all work together to present a dish that is pleasing to the eyes,” said Catherine. “Old Vine Café is a hidden gem that has some of the most delicious Italian food I’ve had in Orange County.”
Adding to his restaurant’s notoriety, Chef McDonald traveled to Lyon, France last month as the California director of Aregala and Cooks Without Borders to attend Aregala’s 2015 Grand Gala dinner. He holds the distinction of being the sole representative in the United States as director for Aregala California.
This month, Chef McDonald traveled to Tampere, Finland where he has been invited by the Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) to teach their international culinary/hospitality/management students. He’s also leading several culinary trips to Italy next spring.
For more information, visit OldVineCafe.com.