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Kitchen Addition

New chef at Ash Street Cafe brings his wine knowledge to expanded menu.

March 13, 1997|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Chef Gael Lecolley, formerly of Wheeler Hot Springs, is now formerly of the Saticoy Country Club too. Lecolley left the latter to take over the head chef position at the Ash Street Cafe in Ventura.

With Lecolley's arrival, the cafe began its transformation from a coffeehouse with food to a food house with coffee.

"We started out as a coffeehouse and we were limiting ourselves," said owner Claire Adams. "I wished we had said 'cafe' from the beginning. We've always had a lot of food, but with Gael it will be different."

Adams said she and Lecolley are negotiating co-ownership of the establishment. For the time being, she said, she's just excited about having the talent and help in the kitchen.

"I was doing breakfast, lunch and dinner and it was hard to be that creative," Adams said. "I always offered a chicken, a fish and a pasta, but he will have a full menu, and we have a wonderful wine inventory. He brought in a real wonderful knowledge of wine, which is something the customers have always asked for."

Over the last two weeks, Lecolley has introduced new lunch and dinner menus and a Sunday champagne brunch.

"At the country club our winemaker dinner was very successful, but it wasn't like I could really do what I wanted to do," Lecolley said. "Here, we're going to have winemaker dinners, special dinners. It will be great."

The regular dinner menu includes several appetizers including pate of Canadian crab served with lemon jelly on hot toasts ($6.95) and grilled vegetables and polenta in a spicy tomato sauce ($5.50).

Among the selections is a spinach salad served with poached pears and a blue cheese pecan port dressing ($5), and a salad with feta cheese and pine nuts, served with grilled lamb chop and accompanied by a hazelnut dressing ($6).

Entrees feature a selection of pasta dishes including a whole wheat capellini with wild mushrooms and smoked duck ($12.50), and a lasagna made with spinach pasta, salmon and fennel in a light cream sauce ($12.50).

Seafood choices include a sauteed white sea bass topped with a warm clam gazpacho ($13.50), seared ahi tuna with black pepper and tomato salsa ($14.50), and bouillabaisse ($18.50).

On the meat and poultry list, there is a rack of lamb baked in a Dijon mustard crust with roasted garlic-rosemary sauce ($15.50), a chicken Florentine stuffed with spinach and cheese and served with a sun-dried tomato beurre blanc ($12.50), and a New York steak with a black peppercorn-cabernet sauvignon sauce ($16).

* Ash Street Cafe is at 32 N. Ash St., Ventura.

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Old New York Bagel & Coffee Co. in Camarillo is celebrating its second anniversary by handing out complimentary bagels. Throughout March, customers who purchase a baker's dozen of 13 will get three bagels free.

Michael Raimondo, president of the bagel corporation, said response to the offer has been great so far. But then, he said, the bagel business in general is as strong as ever in Ventura County.

"I don't think it's slowed down at all," Raimondo said. "There's more consumers starting to eat healthy bagels. Bagels are the healthy alternative to eating doughnuts."

With a couple of years under his belt, Raimondo has plans to expand his operation. He expects to open a second shop in Westlake Village later this year.

"More and more, a lot of chains are buying up a lot of independents, kind of like the banks," Raimondo said. "But if you have a good product, you can grow slow and smart and safely. I'm not so much worrying about what the chains are doing. I'm just growing slowly."

* Old New York Bagel is at 4972 Verdugo Way, Camarillo.

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