Today Sherry "Irene" Virbila has an unabashedly positive review of Mesa in Costa Mesa, a spot so secretive that only those in the know (her friend of a friend knows the sommelier) can find it. We're all for finding a new restaurant in the OC, especially one helmed by a former A.O.C. chef de cuisine; and we do love a good secret. But the trendy resto-lounge concept doesn't usually please our critic. It is a brave new world:
Head to the vast dining room and grab one of the quiet leather booths, where you can survey the entire room as the scene unfolds. I can't think of another place in Orange County that has such an edgy look, eclectic crowd and lusty food. Everybody loves a secret. And Mesa is a good one. Chef John Sadao's menu is inventive and delicious, and in case you're wondering, yes, it's very much like what you'd get at AOC, which is a good thing.The leggy blondes, the cellphone talkers in the lounge, the artist painting in the unisex bathroom, the no signs, address or website; it's all just color. Maybe the secret is in the secret. Miss Irene admits the kitchen is uneven, but still says Mesa "deserves to be added to every O.C. food lover's address book." Fun fact: One backer is Jeffrey Best, event planner extraordinaire and co-owner of Firefly Bistro in Studio City. He must be doing something right because Miss Irene's had a two-star meal there, too. Today the "S." stands for "sub rosa." [LAT]
ELSEWHERE: Coincidentally, Susan La Tempa raves about another Jeffrey Best co-production (partnered with David Reiss), The Del; Eating L.A. laments the fact that something like Meltdown isn't in her part of town; even if it's good, Potatomato shakes her head at $9 pho at Viet Noodle Bar; lafoodblogging finds Comme Ca only for fat wallets, and that Joe's brunch hasn't wavered a bit; and Rainy Days is pleasantly surprised with Pasadena's Mojitos.