We hit double-digit visits (and a permanent tab at Center Hub) waiting for the last round of eateries to launch at Orange County’s newest food hall. But we are pleased to say that as of Tuesday, all food hall tenants are fully operational. Now, they may not all have comprehensive menus yet (hence the term soft opening), but that didn’t stop us from trying a little bit of everything our remaining three had to offer.
Pig Pen Delicacy
After shifting operations out of 4th Street Market, the team we interviewed last year was one of the final three to launch. Open for over a week, you can expect the porky goodness in just about everything they do. We opted for something that wasn’t familiar to us—- a fried chicken sandwich. It might seem a little out of place, or it may be some preliminary testing for their new concept, Wingman [Editor’s Note: Which has since been removed. Testing must have ended?]. Don’t you worry, though; candied bacon isn’t going anywhere.
The other new food concept by Andrew Gruel, Butterleaf considers itself “Vegetarian food for non-vegetarians”. Interpret that as you will, but we had a choice to make for lunch: a scratch-made veggie burger or their signature Butterleaf burger. We took a gamble on the black bean patty and weren’t disappointed. Our vegan delight had a generous serving of avocado and saucy goodness. Paired with an order of deep fried avocado bombs, we did not miss the meat. For something different, try the other “burger” (sweet potato, kale, melted onions and kimchi sauce). We’re already eyeing the poutine for our next visit.
Not to be confused with a new Transformers character, Hop and Viet are putting their spin on poke. Before you roll your eyes at yet another poke joint, we can tell you the quality of Megadon’s seafood surpasses 90% of all the places we’ve tried. In addition to ahi tuna and salmon, we’re curious about his veggie option of roasted beets. Fruit fanatics can indulge with combinations of honeydew, plum, nectarine, mango and pineapple. Yes, we’re still talking about poke. Future Megadon dishes may or may not include Spam. If it were up to us, we’d be down for a Spam fried rice musubi. Just sayin’.
Check out our Grub Guide for information regarding this weekend’s grand opening special. If you’re looking for us, we’ll be at the bar. . . again.
TRADE food hall is located at 2222 Michelson Dr; www.tradefoodhall.com.