Summer is in sessions
Whether one is on the “old school Irvine is best” team, or among those yearning for something artisan and new, everyone should be excited about the opening of Sessions West Coast Deli at the Woodbridge Village Center. Sessions is a sandwich shop, but not a typical one.
The vibe is coastal Orange County at its core. The first two Sessions are located at or near the beach in Newport and Huntington. So why Woodbridge for the third? Well, surfers have a saying: locals only. And Sessions is as local as an Irvine restaurant gets.
“I grew up in Irvine, Woodbridge to be exact, which is why we are opening here,” says Matt Meddock, who is owner/managing partner of the restaurant, along with Partner Beckham Thomas and Executive Chef/Partner Max Schlutz.
“Opening in Woodbridge is a homecoming for me and my partner Beckham Thomas – we both grew up here and lived in Woodbridge until we were into our late teens, and my parents still live here today. We have such great memories of the center, and it’s great to see Sessions becoming part of the Woodbridge Community.”
Sessions serves a wide variety of sandwiches and salads all day long. Everyone loves the chicken and donuts starter on the dinner menu. It includes some of the best chicken strips we’ve had recently, paired with delicious cinnamon donut holes. The veggie bahn mi is a knife and fork affair, with fantastic crispy and spicy Brussels sprouts a highlight. The kid’s menu is among the best in Irvine. We love Ruby’s—who doesn’t?--but Sessions will rocket to the top of our kid-friendly dining list.
The restaurant opens at 7 a.m. for breakfast. Morning choices include a selection of six breakfast burritos with names like The Warrior (filled with sharp cheddar, turmeric home fries, haute sauce and a choice of ham, bacon or sausage) and Epic Steak (carne asada, bacon, avocado, sharp cheddar, turmeric home fries, haute sauce and pico de gallo).
The savory combos can be served in a bowl rather than a tortilla if you choose. For those who love the avocado toast trend, Sessions has three versions, along with three breakfast sandwiches on the menu. Wake & Bake is the standout favorite so far: a spicy combo of smoked bacon or spicy breakfast sausage with avocado, pepper jack cheese, jalapeno and an over easy fried egg, all on a poppy seed roll from OC Baking Co.
The yolk spreads out upon the first bite, so this isn’t your choice if taking it to go and eat in the car. The burritos work better for that.
In fact, we’d suggest enjoying the choices on the breakfast, lunch or dinner menu at the restaurant rather than to go, at least at this point. We’ve seen folks get stressed at the sometimes long wait for to-go items during the restaurant’s first weeks, as the kitchen gets used to the demands at dinner and other busy times.
And the sandwiches are huge, messy works of art, anyway.
Plus, it’s just such a pleasant place. Part of the experience at Sessions involves enjoying both the ambience of the new restaurant and its cool aesthetic, as well as the remodeled center it sits in. The original opened in 1979, and over the years it evolved into a family-friendly part of the community. Now, after a redesign said to be in the $30 million range, the center is enjoying a renaissance.
The biggest change is the removal of a central two-story building, which opens up views of the lake from a variety of new vantage points, including Sessions outdoor patio.
Sessions West Coast Deli is one of the most anticipated of the few new restaurants and cafes opening at the center. Others still upcoming include The Lost Bean, an organic/gourmet coffee shop, and The Pizza Press.
Sessions opened just in the nick of time for those adults who spend time at the center waiting for kids, friends and family members to complete any number of classes—dance, art, yoga, music, math and English, computers and more—offered in the center. Having a safe haven from the throngs of kids and rowdy teens who have made the center their after school hideout is most welcome. Added bonus that one can keep an eye on the playground while enjoying an adult beverage: Sessions offers full barista service, along with a well-curated (if limited) selection of beer and wine.
One needn’t be a Woodbridge resident to love the local touches at the restaurant. The owners have hired Woodbridge High School students to join the staff, and the service has been attentive and friendly.
Design elements decorating the restaurant include a large black and white photo taken from beneath one of the Woodbridge bridges.
Those who really know the history of the Woodbridge center might recognize another work of art on the wall.
Locals had purchased and their families painted tiles back in the 1990s, and they were long part of the playground at the center. A plaque nearby read: “Dedicated to the children of Irvine for helping to build a better Woodbridge.” It was dated September 1991, Beckham’s father happened to walk by during the remodel, and saw that the tiles were being removed. He arranged to retrieve theirs. The tile sits proudly near the entrance to Sessions. The handprints in paint have faded with which the siblings decorated the tile is faded but still visible. On the wall below the words ”Committed to our Roots” is written.
That’s about as Woodbridge as it gets, folks.