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A Fresh Outlook

New bistro in Thousand Oaks will take advantage of locally grown produce.


Diners shouldn't expect bizarre cuisine when they visit 2087--An American Bistro, scheduled to open next week in Thousand Oaks.

"To me, a bistro is representative of classic dishes. That's all. Dishes that are the most understood, the most appreciated by people," 2087 chef Desi Szonntagh said. "We're not going to be a cutting-edge kind of place, coming up with weird garnishes. We'll present the basics, maybe a little differently, with a little bit of a twist."

Szonntagh, former chef and co-owner of the Tatou restaurants in Los Angeles, Aspen and New York City, co-owns 2087 with general manager Charles Bruchez, former food and beverage director at Sherwood Country Club.

The upscale American bistro, at 2087 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., across the street from Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, is due to open Wednesday. It will be open for lunch and dinner Tuesdays through Sundays, with a prix fixe pre-theater menu nightly and brunch on weekends.

Szonntagh, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, has worked at Ocean Avenue Seafood in Los Angeles, the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, Le Cirque and Provence in New York, and Le Moulin de Mougins in France.

He said the appeal of Thousand Oaks for his new venture is the area's proximity to fresh produce. 2087 will feature only locally grown fruits and vegetables, Szonntagh said, predominantly those grown by Somis-based Underwood Ranches.

"The main thing is the taste. I have always been concerned about serving lettuces that were picked two or three days ago--they dehydrate very quickly. This gives us an opportunity to really jump on them and be there when they are freshest. We can grab them at the height of their maturity."

Underwood Ranches, Szonntagh said, offers a nice supply of produce that he can put to use on a regular basis.

"They are perfect for staples. They have great baby vegetables all year-round--baby beets, different kinds of radishes."

The dinner menu has an extensive appetizer selection that includes lobster soup with polenta croutons ($6.50), Indian-spiced chicken skewers with spinach and grilled onion bread ($5.50) and griddle-seared calamari with tomato tartar sauce ($5.50).

Entrees include sheep's milk gnocchi with artichokes, oven-dried tomatoes, basil and goat cheese ($13.50), crispy whitefish with mashed potatoes ($16.50), tamarind and pomegranate lamb chops with eggplant lasagna ($21), and cedar plank-roasted Copper River salmon with asparagus and Pinot Noir sauce ($18.50).

"I'm very sensitive to the area I'm in and believe people are looking for basics here," Szonntagh said. "I'll be cooking what other modern chefs nowadays cook, and I'll be looking for new ingredients that people like. But what this restaurant is about is the tremendous freshness of the food of the area."


Whether it's biscotti, fresh orange juice, or emu jerky, Ojai offers plenty of home-grown tastes. And businesswoman-chef Ellen Sherwood, former director of Ojai's Amestoy House Cooking School, would like to spread the word.

Sherwood will play tour guide Saturday when the Let's Get Cookin' culinary school of Westlake Village offers a bus trip to a variety of sites that represent the many foods of Ojai.

The tour will include stops at the Biscotti Di Alfredo factory where guests will get to sample biscotti; an organic farm, where guests will be served fresh orange juice and homemade jams; a goat ranch, where they will be treated to goat cheese and wine, and an emu ranch where they will be served an emu-based lunch.

Following lunch, Pink Moment Jeep Tours will provide a two-hour narrated, scenic tour of Ojai. On the way home, the tour bus will stop at Ventura's Leeward Winery for a one-hour tour of the facility.

The bus will leave from Let's Get Cookin' at 8 a.m. and return at about 6 p.m. Cost is $75. Space is limited. Reservations: (818) 991-3940.


Cafe Zack, City Bakery, Nou Nou's, Suzanne's Cuisine, Verona Trattoria, Pompeii Trattoria, Pastabilities of Ventura and Nona's Courtyard Cafe will be among the restaurants participating in the Casa Pacifica Wine & Food Festival on Sunday at the Pierpont Inn in Ventura.

Wineries scheduled to bring a sampling of their work include Fetzer Vineyard, Rutherford Estate Cellars, Ironhorse Vineyards, Benziger Winery and Stone Creek Winery.

The festival, which will include entertainment by the Drifters and live and silent auctions, will run from 2 to 5:30 p.m. Cost is $40, with proceeds benefiting the Casa Pacifica children's crisis-care center. The Pierpont is at 550 Sanjon Road. Call (805) 445-7800.

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