Mesa at The Camp has a new chef and a new menu. Chef Abel Vargas has added new menu items which are drawn from emotions and inspirations drawn from his daily personal journey. The globally inspired tapas items are a testament to Chef Abel’s experiences. Food has always been part of my own personal quest, so I fully comprehend this ideology of food being a reflection of one’s story. For me, the act of sharing a meal with others is so much more than simply, just satiating hunger.
Therefore, whenever I’m out with friends, we share everything. A handful of appetizers is a must, and we may even indulge in an entrée or two. Small plates are what we tend to favor. Start with Cucumber ($8), a refreshing plate of bite-sized cucumber chunks topped with mint, cilantro, and dill fronds, served with green goddess dressing. This will open up your palate for what’s to come.
Be sure to order Cauliflower ($12) which includes a mélange of beautiful seasonings at its core. Chimichurri, tahini, cilantro, sumac and Fresno chiles combine together for a flavor explosion that left me wanting more. The cauliflower was slightly overcooked the evening of our visit, but is easily excused as the flavor profiles were exceptional.
Mushroom Toast ($9) is umami-filled with a medley of mushrooms prepared with soy topped with a dollop of aioli and bits of chives. It is a simple dish but brimming with savoriness.
Another solid offering is Burrata ($7) paired here with grilled peach slices, enhancing the sweetness of the fruit. A stack of arugula leaves add brightness, while simultaneously injecting a hint of bitterness for balance. A touch of honey balsamic vinegar reduction parlays another level of sweetness to the dish.
I’m a huge fan of clams, and Chef Abel’s Clam ($19) is absolutely delightful. Another simple, yet tasty item with few ingredients: olive oil, white wine, and garlic, allowing the clams to stand out. We relish the broth by sopping it all up with the grilled toast.
Chix Sandwich ($18) is surprisingly good! Buttermilk fried chicken is sandwiched between an OC Baking Company challah bun, topped with cabbage jalapeno slaw and chipotle aioli. The bun holds everything together well without ever overwhelming the chicken or accoutrements. One of the better chicken sandwiches I’ve had to date.
If you’re looking for entrees, then by all means try Salmon ($22). The blackened fish is well-executed and served with a bright Romaine lettuce puree, plus a handful of fresh peas. It is a stellar item although I much prefer to indulge in a myriad of small plates over a larger one. The flavor profiles work well together and the star of the plate — the salmon — is allowed to shine.
Mesa has always been THE place to grab some tasty cocktails and hang out with friends. The open ceiling gives the feel of an outdoor atmosphere without actually being outside.
Now, you can enjoy tasty bites from Chef Abel while you’re sipping on craft libations curated by top mixologists. If you haven’t been in a while, it is about time you went again!
725 Baker St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
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