Saturday Night Dinner in Ventura?
I'm a San Francisco Hound who grew up in Ventura and am going home this weekend. Can you please give me dinner recommendations in Ventura for this Saturday night? I'm looking for good, honest food and a pleasant atmosphere for a dinner for my husband and myself; cost isn't an issue and it doesn't have to be fancy (I only half joke that I'll cross police tape for a good meal!). I'm open to all cuisines but Japanese.
I'm looking for something that is to Ventura what Brophy Brothers (lots of character; good food) and Papagallo (delicious cuisine; festive atmosphere) are to Santa Barbara; what Fresca (delicious food; festive atmosphere) and Cafe Maritime (lots of character, good food) are to SF.
I ate at Auberge in August and had a wonderful meal. Because I had heard good things about it, I ordered the Grandmother's chicken which is almost a stew-like chicken -- falling off the bone in a broth with carrots and I thnk turnips, bacon, onions. Absolutely perfectly cooked, and delicious.
(And you wouldn't think it from looking from the outside, but the setting from the balcony at dusk is lovely.)
In downtown Ventura, I really like Cafe Fiore. It's a beautiful little place with a cozy bar area and small outside patio. Food is good if not great. You'll need reservations:
And Ojai really is just 20 minutes up the road and a whole other world. If you don't mind the drive, Suzanne's Cuisine has a beautiful, covered outdoor patio w/ fireplace and a nice garden. Food is excellent as is the service:
Cafe Fiore is good in a pinch if you're in the mood for Americanized Italian food, but is certainly not chow-worthy.
Westside Cellars on Main Street does smaller plates--not "small plates", just smaller portions--the filet with bleu on a risotto cake is phenomenal, and the duck breast is out of this world. They also do an excellent cheese platter (get all the extras) and have an impressive wine list.
Aloha Steakhouse is also good if you are looking for steak and seafood (and hula pie)--great steak au poivre, and last weekend they had fresh ono on the menu.
Both require reservations on a Saturday night.
re: Ciao Hound
We've had two truly awful meals at Cafe Fiore--not just un-chow-worthy, but awful. The risotto was so bad that my wife and I just laughed in amazement. It tasted like the chef had dropped a box of table salt in the pot by accident, and then let the whole thing just melt right in, cardboard and all. It wasn't just bad; it tasted toxic. The other night they had a lounge singer doing Christina Aguilera songs. I'm not kidding. It was almost as tacky and unpalatable as the meal, which I'm not going to bother describing. Just don't go.
Suzanne's in Ojai is very good, and we've heard good things from reliable sources about Auberge and Maravilla at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa (www.ojairesort.com/maravilla-restaura...).