Since I moved to Orange County 2+ years ago I feel like I have driven by Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine at least 50 times. It’s located smack dab in the middle of a business park in Irvine close to the 405 freeway so it’s hard to miss. After hearing many good things about the restaurant, I figured it was about time I check it out.
Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine focuses on incorporating locally grown produce and sustainably raised meats and seafood in all of their dishes, and 100% of the restaurant’s profits go to the Andrei Foundation, which was created when the owner’s son passed away from an eye degenerative disease. Pretty awesome huh? If only more restaurants donated to charity…
Andrei’s offers a happy hour every Mon-Sat from 5-7 pm, so the Englishman and I decided to hit up the tail end of happy hour on Saturday to check out the menu. The happy hour deal includes 6 of their “small bites” that are offered at $6 each. The small bites range from fried risotto balls to brioche grilled cheese, so there is a wide variety which is nice. As we perused the menu I ordered one of my favorite martinis, complete with blue cheese olives.
For our happy hour plates, we decided to go with the Pommes Frites and the Barbecue Chicken Flatbread. First up was the Pommes Frites.
The potatoes had just the right amount of crisp and didn’t taste fried or super oily. I also enjoyed the fact that they were cut into bigger wedges, instead of the shoestring potatoes that you normally see at restaurants. The pesto and ketchup dipping sauces were a nice touch as well.
The Englishman inhaled the Barbecue Chicken Flatbread and declared it his favorite dish of the night. This was the one dish I didn’t taste, but it looked and smelled delicious.
For our entrees, we decided to continue the small bites/tapas theme and ordered the Mediterranean Tasting, the Monterrey Bay Calamari, and the Tuscan Caesar Salad with Chicken. All three dishes were delicious and each had their shining points, but the real standout was the calamari.
Most of the time when you order calamari in restaurants it is usually battered, fried, and comes with some sort of aioli. This calamari dish came grilled with squash, peppers and capers. I usually shy away from grilled calamari because it can taste quite rubbery if not prepared correctly, but this was grilled to perfection. The Englishman felt it could’ve used a bit more salt and pepper, but other than that it was a great dish.
The Caesar Salad came with grilled chicken, tomatoes, a Parmesan cheese crisp and Caesar dressing. The salad was nice and refreshing but nothing to write home about. I’ve had Caesar Salads at many restaurants before and this was on par with the rest of them.
Last but not least was the Mediterranean Tasting which came with Cucumber-Mint Tzatziki, Basil Hummus, Olive Hummus, and Baba-Ghannouj. Oh, and pita and flat breads as well.
I enjoyed the hummus (especially the basil) and the Baba-Ghannouj, but loved the Tzatziki dip. It had the perfect amount of tang and you could really taste the cucumber. Next time I think I’ll have to ask for seconds of that dip! The pita and flat breads were good but nothing super memorable.
Overall I was impressed with Andrei’s. The food is nice and fresh, the portions aren’t huge so you don’t feel like you need to be rolled out of the restaurant, and the staff is incredibly nice. I was surprised how quiet the restaurant was for a weekend night, so I’m thinking this may be more of an after work hotspot, especially based on it’s location. Regardless, it’s a must try if you are in the Irvine area.
Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine
2607 Main Street
Irvine, CA 92614