Thursday, June 16, 2011

My summer lovin' lunch - The Cabo Caesar at Sage Cafe, Costa Mesa

Hiding in the shadows of The Camp is a sit-down eatery so mini, you've probably passed it and never realized. Open since December, they call themselves Sage Cafe. Not to be confused with the one known simply as Sage, this is an anomaly in the Asian/hipster/upper echelon options within South Coast Plaza and SoBeCa's neighborhood. Normally, I have an aversion to soup, salad, and sandwich places. But something told me this would be different, so I met my co-worker there one spring morning as they were changing over from brekkie to lunch.

He couldn't help but inquire whether a breakfast sandwich was still available, which they happily obliged to. Mind you, they have one modest griddle back there, and if it weren't for our timing, they would've responded otherwise (which we know for a fact). I was in a 'healthy' mood, and settled on a salad.

Now for a salad, this was behemoth. Crunchy yellow/red bells, hints of slivered green onion and earthy pepitas won me over. The romaine and croutons were almost an afterthought alongside the other players. Grilled chicken kept it hearty, but not heavy. Their cilantro Caesar brought it all together. A dish of beauty, indeed it was.

I managed to get through half before admitting defeat and requesting a box. Fortunately, I knew all the components were sturdy enough to maintain both their texture and taste for another meal. Not your run-of-the-mill Caesar, the Cabo put a spring in my step. Being in good company and spotting a reality housewife didn't hurt, either.

If you decide to hunt them down, call ahead for their daily special. Their soup constantly changes as well, which makes the decision even more stressful for someone like myself who's a big fan of variety. Maybe it's the idea of supporting the underdog, but they fit right in to their surroundings. The anti-Panera, perhaps? *(Oh, and if you like them enough, get added to their daily text so you can debate specials right before lunch hour.)

Sage Cafe
735 West Baker Street
Costa Mesa, 92626

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