Best Secret Menu Item - 2012
Grilled Cheese Sandwhich From Old Vine Cafe
2937 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Old Vine Cafe (a previous winner for Best Restaurant) remains a magnificent restaurant, the best hidden treasure in Orange County. Yet its most spectacular dish is also its rarest: a grilled cheese sandwich that chef/owner Mark McDonald only makes for special events, the ones in which Old Vine sets up a booth and spends the day slapping them together. You can taste the Gruyère and Cheddar, plus some type of mushroom. But if umami is the mysterious fifth taste, one that's inexplicable but really focused on the pleasure principle, then Old Vine's special sandwich is the umami sandwich: crunchy, salty, sweet, buttery, cheesy. It's large, delicious and, for $5, one of the better sandwiches in Orange County—but you're going to have to ask McDonald what special events the place participates in, as the sammy ain't available at the mothership.