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Going Global

New eatery at Oaks mall features wraps from such far-flung spots as Jamaica and Zanzibar.

July 02, 1998|LEO SMITH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

It's not often one finds a shopping center restaurant offering dishes representing the cuisines of Cuba, Jamaica, Greece and Zanzibar. But then, Tacone Wraps is not the usual mall eatery.

The newest food option at The Oaks in Thousand Oaks features flavors from throughout the world, served in, flavored tortillas, either hard or soft, or as a rice bowl-style dish.

"We thought that upscale, quality foods were missing from malls," said Craig Albert, co-founder of the Southern California company. "The clientele are family-oriented, somewhat health-conscious and they want quality taste."

The Tacone menu, designed by Chef Joachim Splichal of Patina Restaurant in Los Angeles, includes a selection of gourmet wraps, salad wraps and vegetarian wraps.

On the gourmet list are a spicy barbecue chicken with crispy onions and kernels of corn ($5.50); Cuban marinated skirt steak with sauteed onion, bell peppers and rice ($5.50); grilled marinated shrimp with rice, spinach and a lemon ponzu sauce ($6.25); and teriyaki chicken with grilled pineapple and jasmine rice in a peanut sauce.

Salad wraps include a Caesar salad ($4.25 small, $5.75 large) and a Chinese chicken salad ($5.75). The veggie versions feature steamed broccoli, carrots and cauliflower with lentils and rice in a curry sauce ($5.25) and grilled zucchini, yellow squash, carrots and red bell peppers with spinach and cheese in a sun-dried tomato pesto ($5.25).

Tacone's owners cater, and plan to offer delivery service shortly. They also hope to open about a dozen more franchises within a year. The Oaks restaurant is the ninth in a chain that opened in early 1996.

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Ventura's Leeward Winery has hired former Ventura College student Michael Meagher as its new winemaker. Meagher, who spent the past 10 years as winemaker at Mount Eden Vineyards in Saratoga, replaces Eric Cinnamon, who headed to Northern California.

"After Michael applied, I just kept finding out more and more about him," said Leeward owner Chuck Brigham. "One person told me, 'If you can get him, you'd better get him.' "

Brigham said he was impressed by the professional experience of the 33-year-old Meagher, who joined Mount Eden after receiving a degree from UC Davis.

"He has a certain maturity that is important," he said. "I think you find with somebody directly out of college they may not have seen everything."

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There are fireworks shows, picnics, parades--any number of traditional ways in which to celebrate the Fourth of July. But one celebration that can't quite be categorized as traditional is a gypsy flamenco show with a Spanish buffet.

If the dinner show ever does become an Independence Day standard, America may have restaurateur Gael Lecolley to thank.

Lecolley, owner of Gael's Cafe Restaurant in Ojai (formerly Nora's Bistro) will host a Spanish-themed dinner with flamenco entertainment Saturday.

A buffet will be available during two shows, at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m.

The menu will include several salads including a Spanish couscous, an antipasto with roasted bell peppers and roasted vegetables, paella, marinated chicken breast, Spanish rice, dessert and sangria.

Cost is $25 for the early show and dinner; $18 for the late show and dinner. Gael's is at 423 E. Ojai Ave. For reservations, call (805) 646-8235.

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