Brooks. Best Meal Ever?

Posted by Brandon |

I have set a goal, I will start blogging again nearly daily on both of my blogs as well as reading all of your fine blogs again on March 3rd. In the meantime, here's a review of Restaurant Brooks in Ventura that I originally posted on Yelp...

With a friend who is a registered nanny in town to help us out, the wife and I got to go on our first date in almost a month after the birth of our little girl. We chose Brooks and it's seasonal cuisine based on all the great reviews on here and the other great press it has received. With all the hype behind Brooks, I had high expectations, even if I was trying to temper them a bit.

Well, no need to temper my expectations; it was even better than any of them reached. Now I'm afraid to over hype Brooks myself. But the meal was so good, I'm just going to have to gush. In fact, I would say that, without question, it was the best meal that I have ever eaten.

We had the five course tasting menu, one with the wine pairing and the other without, and they were nice enough to give my wife (who is still not drinking much being a lightweight after months of not drinking) her own glass for a little taste and with a couple of the wines, basically her own full serving. Every single course was delicious and the wine pairings were all spot on.

As both a way to show you what you can expect out of the five course tasting menu, even though it changes constantly, as well as a way to document for myself my favorite meal ever, here's what we were served, everything ridiculously delicious....

1st Course - Central Coast smokehouse smoked salmon with a whole wheat noodle cake and orange sake sauce.
Wine: Gruet Winery - Brut - Sparkling Wine - New Mexico

I've eaten smoked salmon all my life having grown up in the Seattle area - smoked salmon capital of the world - but I've never had it like this and pairing it with this Brut was amazing.

2nd Course - Wild boar and white bean cassolette topped with a baby arugula salad
Wine: Anglin - Viognier 2006 - Paso Robles

They put the arugula on top of the cassolette and while it sat there, the arugula steamed a little bit and picked up some of the flavor from the delicious cassolette.

3rd Course - Seared ahi tuna with Tobiko caviar served on soft polenta
Wine: Kunin - Pape Star 2006 - Central Coast

Perhaps my least favorite course, it was still arguably the best seared ahi I've ever had. I don't know much about caviar, but here is something I learned - If you take an individual egg in between your teeth and bite down it pops like a balloon and tastes great. We are so refined.

4th Course - Grilled skirt steak with fingerling potato hash, rapini and black pepper sauce
Wine: Old Creak Ranch - Peitie Sirah 2005 - Ojai

Perfectly cooked, perfectly sauced, perfectly potatoed, perfectly paired up with a great local wine.

5th Course - Lemon two ways - Meyer lemon slushie and an almond shorbread lemon bar
Wine: Martin and Weyrich - Moscato 2005 - Paso Robles

Best lemon bar ever! When I bit into the lemon bar, the immediate taste in my mouth was lemon, of course. After chewing and swallowing the lemon bar the taste was more of the shortbread coating. When I took a sip of the Moscato, it had the exact same taste as the shortbread coating, then that slowly went from that taste back to a lemon taste. The wine brought the lemon bar full circle, an almost perfect wine pairing.

The service was outstanding. Our waitress was super friendly, knowledgeable, helpful and genuinely interested in serving us. Owner and chef Andy Brooks made the rounds and said hello and was clearly proud of the food that he was serving that night.

And the space is very nice. The dining room is kind of modern, kind of industrial, but still very warm and inviting and it's all tied together with a great photograph - make sure you read about it's origins.

It was also the most I've ever spent on a meal. $85 for the tasting menu with wine and $55 without wine plus a healthy tip, but it was all very much worth it, especially for a special occasion such as this and the prospect of very few meals eaten out in the near future.

This is it. Ventura's foodie haven. It makes me want to go back through all my Ventura reviews and deduct a star from all of them. I'll just give Brooks a sixth star here, I don't have that kind of time.

Best restaurant between Los Angeles and San Francisco? Maybe. Best restaurant between Tijuana and Vancouver?

But seriously, I don't want to over hype it.



Posted by Brandon |

Other than the joy of being a father, the one thing that I discovered while I was off for nearly two weeks while Death? was giving birth and for the first week of our babies life is that there is one kick-ass game show on in the middle of the day.

No, I'm not talking about the bastardized version of The Price Is Right and the totally uncomfortable Drew Carey. Seriously Drew, quit asking people if they want to say hi to anybody while they are spinning the wheel. They almost always forget about the wheel and nearly miss what they land on. And the less talking a Price Is Right contestant can do, the better.

Nope, I'm talking about Merv Griffin's Crosswords. Hosted by the dreamy/creepy Ty Treadway, Crosswords is exactly what it sounds like. It's a fast paced game that starts with two contestants. Those two contestants get clues for words and the first person to ring in, say the word and spell the word, gets the dollars. After the first commercial break, three spoiler contestants are brought in and if the main two contestants don't answer correctly, the spoilers get a chance to take their place. In a couple of the shows that I watched, a contestant was rocking it, kicking ass and taking names, building a huge pot of money only to lose their spot at the last second and that spoiler contestant ends up winning the whole thing after answering only one question right. Unforgiving game shows, that's what I love.

In this day and age when game shows consist of five super easy questions spread out over an hour, it is so refreshing to find a game in which we solve an entire crossword puzzle in 30 minutes. And it's very easy to play along at home - the questions are relatively easy since they want people to answer them quickly so you get to feel smart and feel challenged a little bit. It's kind of like watching the Teen Tournament on Jeopardy. It's hard, but easy all at the same time.

I just signed up to be on the show, we'll see how that goes. I'm not too bad at the game when watching it, but my crossword skills otherwise are pretty rough. I finished the easy Monday LA Times crossword today, but the Tuesday version really messed me up and that's just the second most difficult one of the week. I can't even imagine how few words I would get on the Friday puzzle.

Anyway, I'm bummed I can't watch it anymore, I need a TV in the office. I'm looking forward to my six weeks off later so I can watch Crosswords. Oh and to spend time with my daughter - that too. To find out when Crosswords is on in your market, click here and enjoy!


Down With Poopy Pants?

Posted by Brandon |

Don't worry, Down With Pants! will be back, I'm not going away. It's just that right now my time at home consists of, when she's awake, holding her and playing with her and when she's asleep, holding her and letting her sleep on me. I just don't want to put her down and do anything else yet. In fact, the last two hours were spent uploading pictures, checking email and attempting to write a blog post with her sleeping on my chest. The only reason I'm able to finish this post is because she got hungry and I don't really have anything to offer her in that respect.

The question is, does Down With Pants! become Down With Poopy Pants! - the daddy blog or do I try to keep the daddy posts to a minimum? I haven't quite decided yet. My life is going to be non-stop daddy stuff so I should write what I know about, but then again, it would be nice to have a non-daddy outlet in this blog.

Either way, if you want to see a bunch of pictures of us, head on over to my Flickr set here.


Welcome Home Addie!

Posted by Brandon |

After six days in the hospital - two inducing, one laboring and three post-partum - we finally returned home today with our little peanut.

Our little Adelaide May was delivered on Friday at 3:50 AM after nearly 22 hours of labor. Momma had to have a C-section after going through just about everything that having a baby has to offer and the picture above is me in the ICU with Addie minutes after her delivery. Don't worry, she was fine, all C-section babies have to go to the ICU for a little while.

It was probably the most difficult, painful, tiring, exciting, happiest, optimistic couple of days of my life - and I didn't even do the hard work. This is going to be tough, without a doubt, but it is already so much fun and so rewarding, I can't even describe. I couldn't be happier with her and mom and our family. This is about as awesome as it gets.