Life on the Veg: Bento Box at 118 Degrees in Costa Mesa

You've got things upside-down and backwards if you think raw living is being doomed to a life of nibbling on rabbit food. 118 Degrees in Costa Mesa not only addresses this stereotype, but attempts to destroy it by offering an array of decadent dishes that stimulate the eyes as well as the taste buds. The menu is vast and ever-changing to accommodate the availability of seasonal produce and the creative whims of the chefs. This assures that you never get bored of the menu, but variety can sometimes be a double-edged sword… especially if you're an indecisive.

Solution: Order everything! Or better yet, a bite of everything. With the bento box option available at lunch you can let the chef make the decisions while you kick back and know you'll be eating healthy, organic, and vegetarian.

The bento box is a beautifully arranged, single-serving lunch that offers a “small bite,” an entree, salad, and dessert. The contents don't stay the same for long, so what you get one week may not show up in your box the next. This adds a pleasant element of surprise for regular diners already intimate with the menu's core items. This week's selection offers a spinach salad with sweet pesto dressing (not available on the menu), hush puppies from the “small bites” menu, a slice of living lasagna, and fudge bites for dessert.

The sweet pesto salad is a basil lover's dream come true. Simple and aromatic, the dressing is delicately crafted using olive oil, sweet basil, and subtle amounts of garlic.

With its fluffy base of whipped walnut and ricotta cheese, the living lasagna is intensely rich and filling. Thinly sliced layers of zucchini are used in place of pasta and sun dried tomatoes give the lasagna a delicious kick without having to drench the whole thing in tomato sauce.

Unfortunately, the hush puppies were all bark and no bite. Dry, yet strangely chewy in texture, these guys pale in comparison to their golden-fried Southern counterparts. The chipotle dipping sauce is a nice touch, but not nearly enough to compensate for the fact that it just isn't the real deal.

Last, but definitely not least, we come to the fudge bites. Made with dark chocolate and walnuts, the fudge bites are rich, moist, and beautifully presented, separated with fresh berries and accented with gobs of fudge. Just sweet enough to satisfy without short-circuiting your flavor receptors, these three bites of chocolate bliss will not leave you disappointed.

If you're a big eater, a cup of the butternut squash soup is an excellent appetizer. Warm and creamy, the soup blends hints of Southwestern seasoning with just the right amount of salt to create a savory flavor that leaves just the slightest tickle of spiciness at the back of your throat. The texture is unbelievably smooth with crunchy bits of butternut crisps sprinkled on top.

To cap things off, try the hot apple cider now available as one of the seasonal beverage selections. The apple cider is definitely served above 118 degrees, steamed and frothed as if it were a cappuccino. At $8, this drink is on the pricey side, but the quality of the ingredients makes up for it in flavor. The hot apple cider blends freshly pressed organic apple juice, pumpkin pie spice, agave nectar, and fresh orange slices together for a slightly tart, and utterly satisfying winter-appropriate drink.

With its unique flavor combination and visual displays, 118 Degrees definitely kicks raw food up a culinary notch. The food might may or may not increase your intuitive and psychic abilities as claimed in the introduction of founding chefs' cook book, but it will leave you with a satisfied belly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *