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Dec 30, 2011 01:04 PM

Rec's for Group in THOUSAND OAKS Sun Jan 15

NEED: Non-chain restaurant/wine bar/lounge suitable for GROUP -- we will be coming directly from a theater performance and want to be able to socialize/discuss over drinks, appetizers, etc.

WHERE: Near the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza (2100 E Thousand Oaks Blvd)

WHEN: Sun Jan 15 at around 5-5:30pm

GROUP SIZE: Estimating at least 10, could be more -- thus I would like to find a place with a bar area that can handle a changing number of people and ALSO preferably do separate checks

It would be nice to find a place that has decent appetizers, perhaps a Happy Hour menu, as well as the option to order entrees. Guests will already have had to pay for parking at the theater so free parking would be really nice.

Does anyone know anything about Toi Tapas Bar and Lounge? Sabor Cocina (which I believe is really close by to the theater at The Lakes, but I'm worried it might be a little too pricey).

sabor cocina mexicana
2200 E Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

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  1. I'd point you to The Grill on the Alley (which is technically a chain albeit a very small one and not chain-like at all) or the Napa Tavern, both a short drive up T.O. Boulevard.

    Have heard that TOI is pretty weak.

    3 Replies
    1. re: roundfigure

      Napa Tavern was terrible. Poor service, ordinary tasting food, not cheap and a terrible experience. We will never go back there. Grill on The Alley is great, much much better.

      1. re: roundfigure

        A "small" chain would be fine, thank you for the suggestion.

        1. re: sablouwho

          The Grill apparently doesn't have their HH on Sunday, and unfortunately I don't think the regular bar menu is quite the right thing. I think some of the group members would choke on the entree prices--my apologies for not mentioning budget concerns in my OP.

          Napa Tavern's price points for starters/tapas, etc, seem better, (though not so much on the entrees) however I note that Les doesn't recommend it, so I'm quite hesitant to go.

          Is there anything in the range of Napa Tavern's app/starters/tapas that has better food?

          Another thing I probably should have added in my OP: We are going to be coming from a Sunday matinee performance at the Civic Arts Plaza, and will be getting out around 5pm, so lite bits/Happy Hour would be great, with the option to have dinner for those who want to do so before driving back to LA.

      2. It sounds like you really want a tapas place, but the reviews for TOI haven't been too good (I haven't been there). Surprisingly, we've had pretty good luck at the tapas place in Nordstrom (Blue Oven or some such name) at the Oaks mall. That said, I'm a little concerned about the size of your group...

        5 Replies
        1. re: asimen

          Asimen~I am pretty sure you are referring to Blue Stove, the Nordies small plates restaurant. I've been to the one here in Santa Monica and I have really liked it. So it's good to know that there is one up in TO :-)

          I just called and since we're going on a Sunday in the late afternoon (traditionally a slower time for them) it sounds like it won't be a problem, actually, so long as I reserve in advance.

          My only hesitation is that I don't want my friends to think "Geez, why is she schlepping us to a MALL restaurant?" and I admit I'm not thriled about having to parade theater-goers past the mens department just to get food. BUT, if I can get over that (believe me, I'm working on it) I think it could be a very good option.

          Since you've been to The Oaks before and it sounds like you know the TO area--would you say that The Oaks & Nordstrom would be an easy/quick drive from the TO Civic Arts Plaza on a Sunday at around 5pm? (I don't want my party to have to drive far, for risk of "losing" them and having them bail out after the theater!)

          Thank you--really good suggestion. :)

          1. re: sablouwho

            Sorry, I should have mentioned that The Grill isn’t exactly cheap. Napa Tavern is just as expensive and not anywhere near the quality. We went to Napa Tavern a few weeks ago. On the plus sign we were seated immediately. However, I requested a quite booth, we were seated in a small booth across from the bar. Not really a quiet spot.

            We waited for 10 to 15 minutes with no one coming to the table. We heard the waiter explain the specials to the table next to us but walked past us. Finally I gave the Maître ‘D a dirty look when he went by and came up to us asking if he could open our wine, which of course I said yes to. We then waited and after 10 more minutes and no server, I signaled the Maître ‘D and asked why we haven’t received any service. He apologized claiming it was his fault for his opening our bottle of wine, which is of course nonsense, but he was trying to mollify us. He sent over a waitress who told us the specials and we ordered. The Caesar salad was okay, good size and flavor. The pumpkin soup was disappointing, not much flavor and much too much cream. For entree’s I had the Osso Bucco and my wife the chicken breast. The portions were good sized but both of us agreed they lacked any spice or flavor. I took home the left over Osso Bucco and never ended up eating it. It was too heavy and tasteless. The other problem was that once we ordered, the food came out in rapid fire. From ordering to finish it was 35 minutes. When we spend $120 for a Sat. night dinner, it should be casual and slow. Needless to say we will not be going back to NT.

            Side note, we booked the reservation on Open Table, who sent me a form to do a review, which I did. I said the same as I just did here, with a note to please send to the restaurant. We’ve never heard back.

            There just isn’t too much out there that meets your specs. My suggestions for you are the following: Cisco’s on Westlake Blvd. near Townsgate. The food is only average, but it’s in your price point and a lively place. You’d have to check with them on the HH. It’s a big place and they could easily accommodate a group that size. You could call Lazy Dog Café, in the Oaks shopping Mall (or on the edge of it anyway) and see if they’ll take reservations for that size group. I don’t know about HH but they are not overpriced on either food or drinks. It’s very casual. You could also try Crown & Anchor, very close to the Civic (Skyline and TO Blvd.) but it’s a small place and you’d definitely need advance reservations. It’s a lively pub with great drinks that are not too expensive. Food isn’t too bad either (bar food, of course). Actually, thinking about it that would be MY first choice: 2891 E Thousand Oaks Blvd Thousand Oaks, CA 91362-3202 (805) 497-0070,

            Good luck, let us know where you end up and how you liked it.

            1. re: LesThePress

              The Lazy Dog is terrific, but way too noisy and crowded from 5PM on 7 days a week for a large group who want to eat and chat.

            2. re: sablouwho

              Blue Stove is over thier price point, and is actually in Nordstrom's. Food is good but they won't get out of there cheaply.

              1. re: sablouwho

                sablouwho - the Oaks mall is no more than 5-10 minutes west of the Civic Arts Plaza on T.O. Blvd. (about 2 minutes further west than TOI). It'll take most of your time finding your way from the parking lot to the restaurant in the Nordstrom's. I certainly understand the hesitation about going to a mall restaurant, just thought it would be good since it looked like you wanted small plates....

            3. In Oak Park around 10 Min from the Civic Arts Plaza is a small restaurant Leila's. They have a full bar a great wine list and serves amazing Tapas or as they call them small appetizers.

              1 Reply
              1. re: gdodgerfan

                Yeah, I thought of Leila's at first too, but didn't mention it because I thought maybe it was too far out of the way, but you're right; it's not really that far at all. And it's great. Price might be a problem. As for Napa Tavern, it's not going to blow anyone away with food awesomeness, but I mentioned it because my experience there was solid and pleasant (I'm sure I'd feel differently if I'd had an experience like Les's upthread), location is suitable, and they've got happy hour on Sunday, a rarity in these parts. Blue Stove is a great option: just park in the second level of the parking structure near the bridge leading to the Nordstroms; walk over that bridge and you avoid the mall entirely.

                More options: since you're driving back to the city anyway, consider stopping in Agoura Hills at Ladyface Alehouse and Brasserie (great atmosphere and patio, conflicting opinions on this board about food but I'm a fan of about 75% of what I've had there) or The Lab Brewing Company (but prepare yourself emotionally for the possibility of veeeery slow service).

              2. Just wanted to thank everyone for the suggestions. I went to TO on a "location scouting" mission a few days before the theater performance and took a look at a few of the places mentioned above. My friend and I ate at Sabor Cocina on the day of the "scouting mission" and liked it. There were some entrees that weren't obnoxiously expensive and my friend (who is not into "hoity toity") thought it would be ok. So we wound up going with it. It was extremely close to the Civic Arts Plaza (walking distance--no need to repark the car and little likelihood of people getting lost), it wasn't a chain, they had a lovely private room in the back that was perfect for our group, it was quiet and there were no obnoxious TVs blaring Sunday sports, service was attentive, and they allowed us to do separate checks. The food was good too, and overall, people seemed very pleased with it.