Ojai Beverage Co.     
655 E. Ojai Ave.
Ojai    
646-1700
$7-9 (dessert)


The first time I ate at Ojai Beverage Company, I was too full from a big plate of fish tacos and a few pints from the gastropub’s famously extensive taps to even consider ordering dessert. But the option intrigued me all the same. Owners Jorge Alem and Jobe Yobe like to incorporate their specialty beers and spirits into the restaurant’s fare (bourbon-glazed carrots, porter-marinated steak) and I’d heard stories of the beer-battered brownie. So I set off to explore the sweet side of the OBC.

The dessert menu isn’t that large: Our choices were a few panna cottas, a bread pudding and a cake (no brownie, unfortunately). But the cake wasn’t just any old cake: this was a milk-stout-infused chocolate cake, nearly 2 inches thick and about 3 inches square, which came to the table garnished with a few strawberries and covered in a bourbon sauce. Bourbon and chocolate — a divine combination.

 


Bread pudding.
Photo by: Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer

 

That bourbon sauce indeed adds great flavor, although its more vital job is as a moistener for the dense, somewhat dry cake. Which isn’t a complaint — the crumbly texture was oddly appealing. And while the cocoa flavor absolutely came through, there was a subtle hint of malt, presumably from the stout. This was no rich, fudgy, gourmet chocolate experience; more like something you’d whip up at home. But the more we ate, the better we liked it. A good thing, too, because we had enough to feed a small army.

 
For the sake of comparison we sampled the bread pudding as well. It was just as enormous, with a thick, golden crust and a pile of vanilla bean-speckled whipped cream on top. Despite its handsome appearance and a much-needed assist from the bourbon sauce, it was pretty bland. What happened, OBC? You should have had this!

Long story short: OBC is not my No. 1 place for dessert. But for a sweet nosh after dining on some exceptional burgers and entrees, it fills the bill. Stick with the chocolate cake — and bring backup, because it’s clearly sized for sharing.