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Karen Salkin Out to Lunch

         Restaurant Reviews and Commentary from Karen Salkin
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DAY TRIPPING TO VENTURA

Since I was little girl growing up in Brooklyn, I have always loved a bunch of people (my family back then) piling in the car for a day trip. In those days, I thought going to New Jersey was exotic! No one in LA seems to really want to drive for just a day, though, unless it’s to go gambling at an Indian Casino, something that so doesn’t interest me, especially because of the dangerous and disgusting smoke factor.

One of the many smaller theatres I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to is Ventura’s Rubicon Theatre, but most of my friends aren’t fun enough to go to a show so far away. And, truthfully, I don’t really have that kind of time to spend on one event.

But my good friend, John Connor, with whom I laugh all the time (usually at the expense of others), and rarely get to see, lives there, and another Rubicon opening night had come up. All the planets must have aligned on a recent Saturday, because the intrepid Eadie and I made the trek to Ventura, practically packing suitcases. (And, unfortunately, I’m not kidding.)

ZOEY’S CAFÉ

Of course, I’m not going to visit a strange town without having at least one meal there, so I did research to find places that serve my favorite one, afternoon tea. It’s always best in small towns, which I didn’t even realize Ventura was till we got there. I found a cute family-run café, Zoey’s, right in the heart of town. “Hi Tea” is just one choice on their lunch menu, served until 4PM, but they were nice enough to say I could have it whenever I get there, just not between 4 and 5, when they close down to re-group.

Sidebar on tea service in general: Zoey’s was just using a cutesy name, so they’re exempt from this lesson. Possibly. No one in this country serves HIGH tea. It’s AFTERNOON tea! And anyone who gets it wrong is a pretentious idiot! High Tea is a meal, akin to supper, that’s served after 6PM, and is hearty, including the likes of sausage pies and crusty breads. Afternoon tea is served between 2 and 5Pm and is light fare of finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets. I really hate when people just want to sound like experts by erroneously calling it “high tea” when they have no idea what they’re talking about.

Okay, so now that I hosed myself down from the frenzy that last paragraph worked me into, I’ll continue with my review of Zoey’s. The place itself was cute, the family was lovely, the food mediocre. But my time spent with John and Eadie was delightful. (I’m sure John’s rolling his eyes, if he’s reading this.) We maligned everyone we know, and then looked for strangers to rag on until our time together was up. What a fabulous way to spend an afternoon!

This café in no means specializes in Tea, so I can’t fault them. What they served was very generous, and they even steered us away form ordering one tea service for each of us, which was good of them, as they would have made more money if they hadn’t. As they suggested, one may have been all we needed, which is unusual for this meal, which is not known to be plentiful.

This one was served on one very large flat try, and consisted of cucumber sandwiches, mini-muffins, fruit and cookies. We all would have liked more sandwiches because everything else was sweet, which was a tad much in that category. We shared two pots of tea that came with the service, which was more than enough for three people. And, without our expecting it at all, John treated! Although it was totally unnecessary, it was greatly appreciated because we ladies all love a generous guy. (Something for you younger men to take note of.)

Zoey’s Cafe 415 Main St. Ventura 805-652-1137 www.zoeyscafe.com

RUBICON THEATRE

Both my parents were teachers, which meant that we had the luxury of family travel all summer long. There were few things more exciting to an impressionable future actress than attending plays in summer stock. I still can hear the crickets, feel the warm air, and conjure up the aroma of summer flora in about a second. (Let this be a lesson to parents: no matter how old your children are, you are always creating their memories, so please make most of them be special.)

Though it was the beginning of February when I finally attended an opening at the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, the experience definitely had that summer stock vibe, which is a good thing. And they do the cutest food thing on all opening nights: there’s a pre-show cocktail party during which they serve some little treat to go with the theme of the show. This night’s theme was love, so they served delicious chocolate truffles, courtesy of the near-by Trufflehounds. Nice touch. (The show itself was so bad [not the theater’s fault; that’s how it was written] that, though I took copious notes, I’m not going to review it here. And it’s over anyway.)

The girl serving them told me that when they did “Man Of LaMancha,” which is set in a prison, they served bread and water. And for “Belfast Blues,” the libations were Guinness and Bailey’s, though probably not in the same glass.

The theatre itself is cute and cozy, and the personnel (and audience members, too, come to think of it) were very pleasant. I would definitely go there again. I just hope it’s for a play that inspires Filet Mignon! (Maybe “The Man Who Came To Dinner.”)

Rubicon Theatre 1006 Main St. Ventura 805-667-2912 www.rubicontheatre.org

MILANO’S

The entire assemblage was invited to the post-show opening night party that was a short, easy drive away at Milano’s, an Italian restaurant in Ventura Harbor Village, a waterfront shopping area that reminded me of Marina Del Rey’s Fisherman’s Village.

The food was pretty generous for an after-party. Eadie and I were there at the beginning and stayed pretty late and we ran out before the food did. There were several different pastas and salads. I tried everything, which is rare. My favorite was the Sausage and Pepper Spagettini.

We had a beautiful view of the water the whole time, which made it special (except for my hair starting to frizz up because of the proximity to moisture.) And I was back home in under an hour! That’s the best part of a day trip--getting home pretty quickly. Then you have extra time to reflect on your experiences (and in this case, just how much food I had consumed) on your way to sleep.

Milano’s 1559 Spinnaker Drive #100 Ventura 805-658-0388 www.milanositalianrestaurant.com

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