Fine dining feels like family
By Ian Murphy 07/10/2014
Sheila’s Wine Bar and Restaurant
330 N. Lantana, suite 32
In a town where the term “fine dining” is thrown around a lot, it can sometimes be hard to find a place that can accurately make that claim. And it is equally hard to find a fine dining establishment anywhere that combines a casual feel with high-end items. Sheila’s somehow manages both.
Established in 2004, the restaurant was bought a few years later by Pablo Medina and his wife, Bertha. Pablo spent 17 years at the Las Posas Country Club where he honed his craft and developed a passion for fine wines. This could be why Sheila’s boasts one of the largest wine lists in Ventura County (roughly 400) and has also received the Southern California Restaurant Writer’s Award for Best Wine List. The owners are not shy about letting you try their vast selection before you decide on a wine to complement your meal, and are knowledgeable without being snooty when asked what pairs well with your choice of entree. We went with the Stork’s tempranillo (a tangy, crisp red) and Carmenet chardonnay (smooth but not buttery).
Then it was on to the food. Lunchtime can be tricky for some places that are seemingly built for nighttime fare. We began with fresh bread from the La Brea Bakery and an extremely tasty “special dip” thatconsisted of vinegar, olive oil, garlic and various herbs. Then it was on to sharing a Caprese salad, with some of the largest and juiciest heirloom tomatoes (both red and yellow) I have ever seen, topped with balsamic, fresh basil and buffalo mozzarella.
We also tried the filet mignon salad with homemade vinaigrette spiced dressing, blue cheese and cherry tomatoes. I would like to bring attention to the fact that at this time we were definitely treating lunch as dinner, as at this point it was hard not to.
For the main course we went with two of the sandwich choices. The Red Dragon panini, which consisted of grilled chicken, mushrooms, spinach and a cool Dijon mustard. The side of rosemary fries was a nice surprise, where most places offer regular, sweet potato or garlic. The other was a turkey pesto with bell peppers, parmesan and a light pesto sauce. Both sandwiches were hearty without being rich, and followed the first two courses perfectly.
Having eaten here once before (for happy hour), I would be remiss if I did not mention the imported cheese plate. You can choose three ($21), four ($28) or five ($35) cheeses, and another choice of either fruit or cured meats is included. It sounds pricey, but the quality of the meats and cheese and the generous portions more than make up for it. I had never before been able to sample Saint André from France (cow), Manchego from Spain (sheep), Irish porter from, well, Ireland (cow), cambozola from Germany (cow) and Humbolt Fog from California (goat). It was the United Nations of deliciousness. Next time I will have to substitute the Red Dragon from the UK (cow) just to cross it off my bucket list.
Sheila’s is the kind of place that you would be excited to take someone to whom had never been there before. What with the fireplace, the contented atmosphere and the dizzying array of wines, it is the perfect place for an intimate date or a meal with close friends. The specials change daily and are very inventive, and the sense of welcome you get from the employees makes Sheila’s a wonderful and tasty preference for a day or night out.