In Ventura County, there are really two ways to dine out: There’s going out to dinner, and then there’s going out to dinner.
The first variety of a night on the town requires nothing but a pair of flip-flops, a perfectly worn pair of jeans and an hour in a comfortable booth eating reasonably priced food — and there are an endless number of restaurants where this can be accomplished.
The second variety requires a little lip gloss, possibly even a skirt, and the willingness to spend more dough for entrees with names like “USDA prime flat iron steak with caramelized onion, gorgonzola sauce, grilled potatoes and spinach” or “filet mignon with grilled shrimp, wild mushroom risotto, spinach and balsamic reduction.” When you want to have this second kind of dining experience, your choice of venue becomes a bit more limited.
Thank goodness for Bodee’s in Ojai — a place that offers an upscale eating experience with one of the most picturesque settings in the county, but without any annoying pretension. Inside seating at Bodee’s has a sort of log-cabin appeal, while the outside seating includes a covered outdoor patio and a fireplace, as well as a section that overlooks a beautiful little stream and waterfall.
When I visited Bodee’s last weekend, Stacy and I made reservations for 7 p.m. When we pulled up, it was still exceedingly warm out, so we chose a table on the covered patio. To start, we ordered a small Caesar salad to share and two glasses of white wine (the 2004 Rock Rabbit Sauvignon Blanc for me). Generally, I’m not a huge fan of either Caesar salad or white wine, but, given the warm weather, both seemed appropriate. And they did not disappoint. Bodee’s makes a fantastic Caesar salad and, I think, the secret is in the homemade dressing — a light, tangy, slightly spicy take on the traditionally heavy version. The sauvignon blanc was wonderful as well; refreshing and just a little sweet.
For dinner, I chose the chicken breast stuffed with walnuts and gorgonzola with sweet
pea mashed potatoes, baby carrots and port cream sauce, while Stacy opted for one of the few vegetarian options, linguine tossed with goat cheese cream sauce, peas, tomato, broccolini and parmesan.
The presentation of my stuffed chicken was bordering on artistic — and while the stuffing went a little heavy on walnuts for my taste, the dish was very enjoyable. The port sauce was sweet, while the gorgonzola added the necessary bite to balance out the meal. However, Stacy’s linguine was the true star of the evening. I stole as many bites as I could. The goat cheese cream sauce pretty much blew our minds. We quietly agreed to avoid discussing the caloric possibilities as we nearly licked the plate clean.
All in all, Bodee’s was worth the drive and worth a small dent in my pocketbook. Besides, it’s fun to play dress up every now and again.