130 East 17th Street Unit N
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
(949) 722-1177 phone
(949) 645-1359 fax
Is it tastebuds or taste buds? I always thought it was one word....Ok....I just looked it up. I'm wrong. I guess it is two separate words. There you go....I can eat and write about it but I can't even spell "taste buds" correctly. Anyway, however you spell it, Taste Buds the restaurant is a freakin' delight to the taste buds in your mouth. I decided to go down to Taste Buds for lunch recently. I have heard good things about this place but had a hard time getting down there because of their odd hours. Taste Buds is only open for lunch Monday-Friday and for brunch on Sunday. Their hours seem to change often though because the kitchen is also used for their successful catering operation. If you're planning on heading down there, you may want to call ahead and make sure they are open. You may be thinking now that going to this restaurant may be more trouble than it's worth. Well you're wrong. Even if this restaurant was only open 1 hour a week, I'd still try to make sure I found the time to go back.
I visited Taste Buds with V and J. We looked over the menu of gourmet salads and sandwiches. The restaurant was pretty empty. I think there were only two other tables occupied. Taste Buds has about eight indoor tables and another eight or so on an outdoor covered, enclosed patio. Everything on the menu looked so good, I had a hard time deciding what to order. I finally decided to get the Steak Frites Sandwich ($12.95). V chose the Panini sandwich($11.95) but substituted eggplant for the chicken. J selected the Grilled Veggie Salad ($9.95) and a side of Truffle Fries ($5.95).
The interior of the restaurant was very nicely decorated. The decor gives you the feeling that you're dining in a nice upscale bistro. We only saw one employee while we were there, our waiter. He seemed to be in charge of running the entire front of the house. My only complaint was that he did not seem to clear the tables after people left, so there were a few empty tables with dirty glasses and plates. This kind of took away from the nice atmosphere of the restaurant.
Our food arrived fairly quickly and it looked and smelled delicious. My Steak Frites sandwich was made with thinly sliced ribeye steak marinated in red sea salt and fresh citrus juice. The meat was piled on to a freshly baked baguette with crispy ribbon fries and a gorgonzola cream. I took a bite and was transported to heaven. The sandwich was amazing. The red sea salt and the fresh citrus juice gave the meat a fantastic bold flavor. The baguette was perfectly crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. The sandwich was served with a Vegetable Chow Chow. It tasted liked a dressed up coleslaw. I didn't care too much for it.
V's sandwich was made with pan-fried eggplant (instead of the cilantro lime chicken), smoked gouda, caramelized onions and sundried tomato pesto on a rustic chibata (sic) bread. (Isn't it spelled "Ciabatta?" That's what Jack's kid taught me.) V enjoyed her sandwich very much. It was served with "Escabesh" which seemed to be pickled vegetables that were slightly spicy. She said the Escabesh was pretty good as well.
J's salad was a bed of lettuce covered with grilled zucchini, squash, artichoke hearts, roasted roma tomatoes, kalamata olives and cilantro lime pesto. It was tossed with a herbal creme fresh (sic) dressing. She liked the salad very much, but it was so big she had to take half of it home. She ate her leftovers the next day and said that the salad was wilted, but still delicious.
The truffle french fries were enjoyed by all of us. Perfectly crispy french fries were drizzled with white truffle oil. The closer you got to the bottom, the stronger the truffle flavor was. Yummy.
Overall I really enjoyed this restaurant. It was a little pricier than your average lunch, but I think it was worth it. Writing this review makes me want to go back to get the Steak Frites sandwich again. I did have a restaurant.com dining certificate, so this helped out with the pricing a bit. You can also get a restaurant.com certificate to Tastebuds to help you save a little money.