/ The Orange County Guide
Orange County — By Abbie Mood on February 24, 2010 at 12:42 pm
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Raw Food Review: 118 Degrees

Vegetarian, vegan… raw?  Raw food is a trend that has been all over the Los Angeles area for a couple years now, and is creeping into Orange County as well with the opening of 118 degrees in Costa Mesa.  Raw food is often not heated at all, but if it is, it is at a temperature that doesn’t exceed 118 degrees Fahrenheit.  This technique means food won’t be overcooked, leaving raw foods full of more nutrients then in cooked food.  Executive Chef and owner Jenny Ross has been preparing raw foods for over seven years, and already has a successful raw food restaurant in West Hollywood, Taste of the Goddess (map).

We visited 118 degrees on a rare rainy night in Southern California, making the earthy tones and warm lighting all the more welcoming.  My guest and I were promptly seated, and I immediately noticed how the interesting artwork contrasted with the wooden tables to create a rustic, yet somewhat industrial and modern vibe.

The first appetizer came out quickly – Butternut Squash soup ($7 cup/$11 bowl) topped with rosemary.  The soup was lukewarm (raw food is traditionally cold-lukewarm), and a rich yellow-orange color.  I found the soup to be creamy, but not heavy, making it great for winter or summer, a perfect choice for Southern California.  It was savory, and I could definitely taste the garlic.  It was a good start.

The next appetizer was the Mezze Platter ($11), which is tahini based cheese served with avocado, cucumber, and olive bread.  The tahini cheese had a pretty strong flavor (and a little bit goes a long way), but the avocado and the hearty olive bread mellowed it out for a delicious taste in the end.

The Sobeca Sampler ($32) featured smaller portions of three different menu items – Florentine Lasagna ($14), pesto stuffed Mushrooms ($7), an empenada (seasonal, no $ available) – and a sweet mustard salad, which was very light and refreshing.

Pesto stuffed Mushrooms

The lasagna was mild, yet you could taste all of the individual vegetables.  The vegetables were “cooked” in a dehydrator, making this lasagna both crunchy and hearty.  It was stuffed with a nut-based and soy sour cream “ricotta cheese”, topped with a sweet basil marinara.

The pesto stuffed mushrooms were my favorite part of this sampler, most likely because the pesto was rather untraditional – a spinach pistachio pesto that complimented the dehydrated cremini mushrooms perfectly.

The empanada had a warm spicy filling inside comprised of corn, cayenne pepper, bell pepper, and almond cheese.

After the sampler, we tasted the Trio of Enchiladas platter ($19).  The trio included a sweet cheese enchilada (sweet corn and cheese), a spicy cheese enchilada (a bit heartier, stuffed with mushrooms, zucchini, and a spicy cheese), and a cilantro/basil/avocado enchilada (tangy with a mushroom and avocado filling).  The enchiladas were very tasty, but the thin wrapping fell apart easily, so you will definitely need a fork to eat them.  Also on the platter was a tasty pomegranate and blood orange salad ($6) with a honey vinegar dressing.

Apple Pie

We ended our meal with a dehydrated apple pie, meaning it was made up of tight pressed layers of apple with the skin still on.  The pie was seasoned with cinnamon, topped with a pecan crust, making it a delicious raw food adaptation to the traditional dessert.

Needless to say, we were stuffed after this meal – who knew vegetables could be so filling?  The meal moved along at a nice pace, and considering that there is no heating of the food, most of the time is spent in preparation.

Raw food is great for people who like to take their time to eat because the food won’t cool down, keeping the flavors consistent and delicious.

118 degrees is located at 2981 Bristol Street, Costa Mesa (map).  Phone:  (714) 754-0718.

Hours: Monday through Saturday: 9am to 10pm (last seating at 9pm);  Sundays: 10am to 9pm (last seating at 8pm).

Photo Credits: Eric Lang

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  • Katrina Verweel says:

    Even though I am not a vegetarian, I do enjoy vegetarian/vegan cuisine and I just might try this restaurant out when I visit California. You definitely sold it.

  • Abbie says:

    Thanks Katrina, you should definitely try it out if you’re ever in Orange County!

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