This article is dedicated to Kelly von Hemert of Galley Girl for her friendly and persistent nagging. She's in your kitchen and my head!!!)
Valhalla - The Hall of the Slain. It’s the final resting place of the Einherjar, heroes felled in glorious combat and selected by Odin the All-Father to serve in his personal guard. Raftered using spears and thatched with golden shields, it was said to always have room, food, and drink sufficient for all within it. Only warriors brave of spirit and whole of body could reside there, feasting and drinking as they waited for the final battle of Ragnarok.
It was basically a giant sausage fest.
(Duck, Bacon, & Jalapeno Sausage with Caramelized Onions)
When the eponymously named Valhalla Table opened at the CAMP, I couldn't wait to try it. After all, it was owned by Liv Karnaga & Chef Ehrline Karnaga, the same dynamic duo of sisters responsible for Layer Cake Bakery. They'd already given me my favorite Orange County source for deliciously decadent desserts. Their paean to homemade, organic, tubular delights surely wouldn't disappoint. Surely...
Valhalla Table is decorated in the minimalist industrial style that seems popular amongst eateries trying to be chic. Everything is composed of clean lines and muted tones. Black, grays, and white are dominant, giving the small space a cavernous feeling. It's very sterile.
(They sloshed a bit out of the bowl.)
When your food arrives, the splashes of color are a relief. Presentation, like the decor, is sparse. The flavors, on the other hand, are vivid and bold. Their piping hot Cream of Tomato soup begged for a grilled cheese sidekick. It enveloped the inside of my mouth in a soothing blanket of rich sweetness with just the right balance of acidity.
The Currywurst, on the other hand, arrived at the table an already dead, cold, and rapidly congealing mass of meat and fluids. The tomato-based curry sauce liberally slathered on top was reminiscent of store-bought Tikka Masala, completely overwhelming the lightly fried sausage pieces drowning underneath.
Belgian Style Potato Fries came highly recommended on Yelp and various food blogs (see below). The thickly hewn, twice-fried timbers of tuber were reminiscent of In-N-Out's "well-done" fries. They were simple, crunchy, and honest, although they could have used salt.
(Chicken & Apple Sausage)
Sausages run about $6-$7 dollars and are served simply grilled on a toasted roll. Each order comes with a choice of caramelized onions, sauerkraut, sweet peppers, salsa verde, or Indonesian sambal. Additional toppings run $1 extra each. No sides are included.
The sausages that I tried were both imaginative, but varied in their execution. The Chicken and Apple sausage was mild, surprisingly moist, and laced with gentle sweetness. The hefty amount of cinnamon used to spice the sausage, however, threw both Cat and I for a loop.
The Duck, Bacon, & Jalapeno Sausage (picture second from top) had a strong presence, but the ingredients clashed more than they complimented. The distinctive aromas of duck and bacon warred against each other like the Einherjar against Fenrir the wolf. The battle was intense and epic. Ultimately, like Fenrir, the bacon dominated by devouring all that stood in its path. The jalapeno added a nice bit of zing to the experience.
Valhalla Table - The concept is fun and the service is excellent. The quality of the ingredients and the care taken with their preparation really shines through. Unfortunately, the food could use some polish and balance, and the prices are on the high side.
Cream of Tomato - 4.75
Currywurst - 5.50
Belgian Style Potato Fries - 3.50
Chicken & Apple Sausage - 6.00
Duck, Bacon, & Jalapeno Sausage - 7.00
2981 Bristol Street (The CAMP)
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Valhalla Table website
Don't Take My Word for It - Reviews from other food blogs:
- Valhalla Table Coming To The Camp in Costa Mesa by Edwin Goei of Stick a Fork in It
- Valhalla Table Opens at The Camp. Rasta Taco & Ecco? Not So Much by Edwin Goei of Stick a Fork in It
- Valhalla Table's Sausage House Concept Comes From LA, but the Most Inspired Items Hail From Indonesia by Edwin Goei of Stick a Fork in It
- the very essence of cool by ILA of i nom things
- Valhalla Table - Costa Mesa from Notes... from the napkin
- Viking Feast at Valhalla Table? by OCEater of Eating My Way through OC