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Eats | FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Paving the Way in Thousand Oaks

June 12, 1997|MAX JACOBSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Bucolic Thousand Oaks is loaded with charm and beauty but, until recently, it's had relatively few interesting restaurants. Perhaps the success of 2087-An American Bistro can change that.

This handsome spot is an airy space with dandelion yellow walls, a wooden floor, an open kitchen and a casually rustic ambience. It is across the street from another unproven experiment, the impressive Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. Now the concept of dinner and a show has a completely new spin.

The menu at 2087 is intelligent and appealing, showcasing contemporary American fare. It was designed by Culinary Institute of America graduate Desi Szonntagh, a chef with both New York's Le Cirque and Santa Monica's Ocean Avenue Seafoods on his resume. The restaurant also features a terrific small wine list stocked with reasonably priced winners.

First courses score consistently. Szonntagh has the good sense to use Ventura County produce, like Tierra Rejada Farms lettuces and local field greens, making the house salads a joy. House smoked salmon with cabbage pancakes, creme frai^che and chive is served in an architectural stack, distinctive visually but rather bland on the palate. Better are Moroccan shrimp, a sometimes special, giant mesquite grilled prawns brushed with an exotic crushed tomato, toma cumin and mint sauce.

Entrees are well conceived, but the kitchen tends to overcook them. Cedar plank-roasted Copper River salmon and a crispy whitefish dish were dry, while Harris Ranch dry-aged steak and marinated lamb chops came to the table more done than requested.

Save room for the all-American desserts; banana cream pie, sinfully fudge-like chocolate layer cake and a sweet-sour lemon tart.

BE THERE

2087-An American Bistro, 2087 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. (805) 374-2087. Now open Monday through Friday for lunch and nightly for dinner. Major credit cards accepted. Valet parking. At dinner, appetizers are $6 to $11, entrees $13 to $21.

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