Tag Archives: OC

Vitaly at the Camp

One of the best things about living in Costa Mesa is the wide variety of restaurants to eat at.  I had been wanting to check out Vitaly at the Camp for a long , and the Englishman and I finally managed to pop in there for dinner.

Vitaly at the CampVitaly is a cute Italian cafe tucked away in the back of the Camp and serves Italian flatbread sandwiches (Piadinas), homemade pasta and other Italian specialties.  In my opinion no Italian meal is complete without a glass of wine, so I ordered a glass of pinot grigio with my meal.

Vitaly at the camp WineThe Englishman and I ordered a caprese salad to share and I loved how it came out with just tomatoes and mozzarella, with the balsamic vinegar on the side, so the salad wasn’t overdressed.

Vitaly at the camp caprese saladIt’s still a little early for tomato season, but the ones we had in the caprese salad were nice and crisp and were perfect with the creamy mozzarella.  I can’t wait until summer when I can have all the tomatoes all the time.

The Englishman got the Montetiffi Cassone which is essentially a Piadina sandwich that’s served with warm ingredients rather than cold.

Vitaly PiadinaHis cassone had housemade sausage, cabbage, balsamic reduction and parmesan.  We both agreed it was quite delicious and could’ve maybe used a tiny bit more cheese.

I went with something a little different and got the Straccetti, which was Filet Mignon strips over roasted potatoes, tomatoes and arugula.

Vitaly at the camp steak and potatoesThis dish was quite simple but so, so good.  The filet was seasoned perfectly, and any time there are oven roasted potatoes on the menu, chances are I’ll order it.  I think this will definitely become my regular meal at Vitaly.

Of course, no trip to the cafe was complete without some gelato.  Vitaly has a wide range of homemade gelato that comes in a waffle cone, cup, or even a gelato “sandwich.”

Vitaly Gelato FlavorsI sampled a variety of flavors but the one that won my heart was the mascarpone which came with a delightful cherry on top.

Vitaly at the camp gelatoI can already see that Vitaly’s gelato is going to be a summer staple for me.  Most ice cream shops in town use artificial ingredients like corn syrup, but everything at Vitaly is made fresh which I love.

If you live in the OC area and haven’t been to Vitaly at the Camp yet, I definitely recommend checking the cafe out.  In addition to lunch and dinner they also serve breakfast, which I plan to check out next!

Dinner at Provenance

When I first started Sweet Potato Bites my main objective was to keep it real.  And while I don’t like writing posts like the one below, it’s important that I share all my food experiences – whether they are good or bad.  If you have read my blog for a while, you might remember the fact that I love Lucca Cafe.  So when we decided to have dinner at Provenance, Lucca’s new sister restaurant for my mom’s birthday, I was quite excited.

Provenance is a Napa-inspired restaurant that grows all their vegetables straight from the garden on the restaurant’s patio.  All the ingredients are fresh and seasonal, and I personally love the idea of knowing that the carrots on my plate came from a garden just a few steps away.  I took a sneak peek at the menu prior to our dinner at Provenance and was quite excited by the sound of a lot of the dishes.

While we were perusing the menu and enjoying some wine, we were presented with a lovely basket of freshly baked biscuits and butter (which were of course delicious).

Dinner at Provenance BiscuitsOur group decided to start the evening off with a few appetizers, the first being taro chips with guacamole.

dinner at provenance taro chipsI am a big fan of root vegetable chips so naturally I loved this.  The crispy taro chip paired with the guacamole was perfect.  I think I’ll have to try making my own taro chips one of these days.

The other dish we got to share was the Napa Cabbage with chives, cannelini beans, shallots and bacon.

Dinner at Provenance CabbageI’m not always the biggest cabbage fan but this was one of my favorite dishes of the night.  The warm and slightly salty cabbage paired with the bacon and the beans was perfect.  I could make a nice meal out of that alone.

A few people ordered the clipped garden lettuces as a starter and I managed to sneak a bite.

Dinner at Provenance Mixed lettucesThis was a collection of all the things growing in the garden at the moment – arugula, radishes, baby lettuce, french beans and butternut squash.  It was light and refreshing and I appreciated the use of seasonal ingredients.

After the amazing starters I was expecting the same for the entrees, which unfortunately weren’t quite as good.  First up was my jidori chicken with blistered brussels sprouts, potatoes, and carrots.

Dinner at ProvenanceThe crispy brussels sprouts and carrots were nice, as were the roasted potatoes.  My chicken came with a thigh and a drumstick, and while both were incredibly juicy, the drumstick was unfortunately pretty undercooked (to the point where there was blood on the plate).

We pointed out the issue to our waiter and he brought over the general manager who was nice enough to explain how the chicken was sous vide which was why it was so pink/red in color.  I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the manager’s explanation, and was even more confused that it was cooked sous vide when it said roasted on the menu, but there wasn’t much I could do about it right then and there.  I didn’t eat the bloody pieces of meat but still felt very uneasy (esp since the Englishman had taken a bite too).

The Englishman got the burger with the fried egg and bacon on top, but when it arrived there was no bacon to be found.

Dinner at Provenance BurgerOur waiter quickly rectified the situation and brought over a side of bacon but it wasn’t quite the same.  I tasted a few bites of the burger and thought the flavor was good, however the burger was definitely on the cold side.

My parents ordered the Pan-Fried New Zealand Sole and had nothing but rave reviews (Lucca is also known for delicious fish dishes).

Dinner at Provenance FishMy brother got a pork chop which I didn’t get to taste but his overall feedback was that it was quite good.

Dinner at Provenance PorkSince we were celebrating a birthday, we decided to get a variety of different desserts and share among the table, since sharing is caring.

I ordered a scoop of raspberry sorbet and homemade peanut butter ice cream.

Dinnera t provenance Ice craemI love when restaurants make their own ice cream and sorbet in-house and this did not disappoint.  The peanut butter ice cream was loaded with peanut flavor and wasn’t overly sugary, and the raspberry sorbet was the perfect palate cleanser

The homemade apple pie came in the cutest le cruset dish with a side of vanilla ice cream.

Dinnera t Provenance Apple PieI sampled a few bites of the pie and it was quite tasty.  But then again, when is apple pie not?

Lastly my brother and sister-in-law ordered a smores dessert that looked quite decadent and they both said it was amazing.

Dinner at provenance smoresUnfortunately this is where the happy part of the story ends as the Englishman, my dad and myself were knocked down hard the following day by what we can only assume is a bad case of food poisoning.

As a food blogger this is incredibly disappointing, especially since I have had so many wonderful dining experiences with Lucca in the past.  Just another reminder how important food safety is and if something doesn’t look right to you – SEND IT BACK.  I’d rather leave a restaurant hungry than experience what I just did.


Zipangu is an Asian Fusion restaurant located in The LAB in Costa Mesa.  I’ve seen it a number of times but never went in to check it out.  Finally after a recent shipping trip to South Coast Plaza, the Englishman and I decided to pop into Zipangu and see what it was all about.

We happened to come during happy hour (3-7 every day!), so we decided to take advantage and ordered some drinks and garlic fries.  Yes, garlic fries.

zipangu friesI have never had garlic fries at a sushi restaurant before, but these were delicious!  They weren’t super garlicky, but they were nice and crisp and were perfectly salted.  I may have to come back to Zipangu for the fries alone.

We were both in the mood for some sushi so we ordered some yellowtail, mackerel, and shrimp to share.  I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical since this restaurant has an item on the menu called the Kobayashi which is American Hot Dog Rolled Up with Rice & Soy Paper and Deep Fried, but I decided to give it a shot.

zipangu sushiI’m glad I gave the sushi a shot because it was delicious!  I don’t think it’s quite as good as Shunka or Kitayama, but definitely decent.  I also had a veggie roll, because why not?

zipangu veggie rollThe veggie roll was good, but nothing amazing.  Just your standard vegetable roll fare.

For the grand finale, the Englishman ordered the Chicken Kara-age, which is Japanese style deep-fried chicken.

zipangu fried chickenThe chicken came with a side of chipotle mayo and some peppers.  I only had a taste of the chicken but it was pretty good!

Not going to lie, I’ve never had fries, chicken and sushi rolls all in one sitting before, but somehow it worked.  Zipangu has a lot of other interesting Asian Fusion dishes I wouldn’t mind coming back and trying as well.  Plus, this place has a happy hour on the weekend, so that makes it an instant win.