Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Diners, Drive-ins & Dives Viewing Party at The Kitchen

Devon and I went to The Kitchen in Downtown Oxnard on Monday night for "a little taste of downtown," as The Kitchen owner Cathie Moreno described it. The event celebrated last night's airing of Guy Fieri's Food Network show - "Diners, Drive-ins & Dives." Filmed last October, the DD&D show featured The Kitchen's Lamb sandwich that Cathie and Guy made together during the episode.  It was served along with 2 other sandwiches (Cuban and Veggie) that Cathie called "Guy's Picks."

Guy Fieri introduced The Kitchen as a "funky neighborhood joint" on his show and described it as, "where they're cookin' it, brewin' it, and bakin' it!" Well most of that's true, but I wouldn't tell any of the craft brewers that serving craft beers equals "brewin' it" … that's just Hollywood talk for craft beers on tap I guess.

We met Cathie and enjoyed chatting with her briefly. She's expecting increased business after being featured on DD&D. Quite a success story for someone who bought the kitchen with an existing restaurant and bar mainly to increase kitchen capacity for her catering business. Now her "gastropub" offers great sandwiches, a nice list of craft beers, and even fresh baked goods.

It was a fun atmosphere with vintage muscle cars parked out front, a red-carpeted entrance, a Guy Fieri look-alike contest, a DJ/singer (never saw this combo before), and big-screen TV for viewing episodes of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."

We sampled the Cuban sandwich slider from The Kitchen after hearing some people raving about them. Our plan is to try a full size sandwich of their spicy lamb/hamburger mix on our return visit. I had tasted the smaller version of it at the Ventura County Wine Trail's Local Food & Wine Challenge a few weeks ago, as well as their Meatloaf sandwich - great with their home baked bread.

Other fun food tastes included a pulled pork slider from BG's Cafe, 2 mini tacos from Iron Horse, and Chicken Allison from 5th Street Steak & Seafood.  Casa Lopez, Tomas Cafe, La Dolce Vita, Fresh & Fabulous, and Sugar Beets were listed as other restaurants but we didn't get to visit them all.

I enjoyed tasting the Temptress from Four Brix, a Spanish Rioja-style blend of Tempranillo, Mourvedre, and Grenache. Rancho Ventavo Cellars poured a 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah blend from Paso Robles that was very nice. And Sunland Vintage Cellars, Giovinazzo Wines provided a repeat performance of the Local Food & Wine Challenge by pouring their 2007 Dolcetto and 2008 Montepulciano. These were previously paired with The Kitchen's Lamb Burger and Meatloaf Burger so they were perfect for this event. Devon prefers white wines and didn't find any being poured for tasting. That was a surprise!  So she had to settle for a house Chardonnay from the bar.

Woo hoo, a wine AND beer tasting event! The nano brewery Enegren Brewing Co from Moorpark poured an Alt beer that was very good. It was a mahogany-colored ale with Hallertauer hops aged like a lager.  Surf Brewery of Ventura poured an Imperial IPA made with hops from Australia - any Imperial IPA is good with me, mate! Firestone Walker poured several beers and I tasted their Double Jack (also an Imperial/Double IPA). They describe it as a British Pale Ale made in oak barrels that produce a vanilla-toasted oak flavor with a hint of English noble hops. I have to say that this one was my favorite craft brew of the evening.  I even had a pint of it when we went across the street to 5th Street Steak & Seafood for another snack bigger than you get with an event ticket.
I really enjoyed being able to taste both micro brews and wines. The only thing that could have been done better were the tiny plastic cups they used. They were like something you'd get from the hospital! For a few cents more a "real" 4 oz. plastic wine tasting glass would have improved the tasting experience, even for the beer.

Some iPhone Photos by Devon Scheef