Thursday, November 1, 2007

Greater Irvine vs. Brea

I'm normally a Borders Books and Music guy, but after my 48 Laws of Browsing Bookstores incident, I've been in a few more Barnes and Nobel's. Well, that and the fact that since I'm down in Irvine so often, there are lots of BN's and only one Borders.

I can't say that I've eaten at every single good restaurant in Brea, but I've been to all the local big bookstores. It's been interesting to have friends take me exploring parts of the "greater Irvine" area that I've had such limited exposure to. So, a quick run-down.

Crepe Maker at the Irvine Spectrum
This was just plain yummy. Entree crepes: Raspberry Chicken and Tomato Basil. Raspberry was from jam, which is a good idea. The Gordon Ramsay part of my brain says that a from-scratch raspberry reduction would be better. Are raspberries even in season? The tomato basil was lovely as well. Classic flavor combination. I'm pretty sure the crepes were made ahead of time and re-heated, but don't hold me to that.

By the way, with the new (to me) parking structure at the Spectrum, weekend parking wasn't a big deal. People watching at the Spectrum is fun too. Bath and Body works doesn't sell non-lathering shaving cream. Other random observations? Good place to wander around for a while.

So, back a couple hours later for dessert: I -think- it was Nutty Carmel Apple, which was ... amazing.

Wheel of Life
Vegan restaurant at Culver and Walnut
Started with the Tom Kha Kai, the classic lemongrass, coconut milk, basil soup. Usually with chicken and chicken stock, but clearly not since this is a vegan restaurant. Faux meat and veg stock. This was amazing, not too oily, which is usually the thing that can go wrong.

Eggplant with Basil
Amazing flavor, nice soft texture.
Yellow Curry (I think)
Yum yum yum! Faux meat really worked.

If I had a complaint, it was that they didn't wait for the soup to get finished before serving our mains, resulting in us not getting to them while they were piping hot.

Veggie Grill at the University Center
Menu highlights:
Sweet potato fries
First time I'd ever heard of such a thing. They're sweet, crunchy, and worth ordering.

BBQ Wings
Faux chicken has a great texture, and the BBQ sauce is great (if a touch sweet).

Steamed Kale
I'm a big fan of southern greens, and these are done very well.

Spinach Salad
With caramelized onion, corn salsa, veggie "ham," ginger-papaya vinaigrette. This is a substantial salad which could be split among three people as a side.

Bali Bliss sandwich
"Indonesian style" tempeh in a burger form-factor. The chipotle-ranch was very tasty, but the tempeh was a little plain. That is, it didn't do much for me, flavor-wise, though it was interesting texture-wise.

Texas Hold'em sandwich
BBQ wheat-meat, caramelized onion, and sprouts
Reminds me of the BBQ wings. Have to try this one again. Very good.

Only dessert I've had here. Very creamy, and didn't seem like a jell-o cheesecake. The crust wasn't baked.


The last time I went to a BN, they didn't have self-help computer kiosks to search inventory. Now they do. Welcome to 1999, Barnes and Noble! I've now been the locations at Fashion Island and the Spectrum since my South Coast Plaza visit. I guess the computer thing was the only one that made me dislike them. Well that and the fact that you can pay for a discount card. What's up with that?! I just sell Borders my demographic information for an occasional 30% off coupon...

No bookstore pickup incidents... wait, that's not true. At the Spectrum, I witnessed an employee attempt to show higher value by whistling what I assume was the "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" theme music after talking to a female customer who was inspecting the display. No question in my mind that he was trying to show-off his Charlie Brown nerdosity (not a real word) like a peacock. I could tell because I've done the exact same thing. Just not about Charlie Brown.

Went to the Fashion Island location late on a week day. Scouted out some comfy seats, but decided it would be a better date location if they had love seats as well as single-person comfy chairs. I'm just saying.


  1. So, I met a lady friend at the Crepe Maker the other night and followed your recommendation. The raspberry was funky, but gooood. Sari's 'Opulence' was tasty, too. You gotta love artichokes.

    I was surprised by the method of eating: Crepes are served slightly crispy in a flattened snow cone-like container and are eaten without knife or fork. This made the 'Bad Girl' crepe that we shared for dessert a nice bite-for-bite flirty experience. Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Oh, we totally used a knife and fork. :-) They only had plasticware, but they did have it over by the soda station. On the other hand, totally by hand would work too. Maybe not as well as the pasta scene from "Lady and the Tramp."