Ambrosia by Caffrodite
1987 E Main St., suite B
I had only recently recovered from my second-ever yoga session when my wife said, “Hey, let’s check out Ambrosia.”
“The food of the gods? And risk a smiting?” I replied. Her blank stare was followed by directions pointing me toward midtown Ventura, where I learned that Ambrosia is actually a restaurant run by the former owners of Caffrodite. Caffrodite, if you recall, was a coffee spot on Main Street, an institution that has been missed since its closure last year.
Now, Ambrosia by Caffrodite has emerged, replete with full coffee bar to serve up all of your original coffee favorites, plus a full kitchen. Ambrosia as defined by Caffrodite means healthy, soul-cleansing vegetarian and vegan food.
The shop, tucked between longtime residents Pete’s Breakfast House and Mai’s Café, has a bright, open dining room with very small tables up front and several more spacious tables in the back. The first thing you may notice upon entry is a sign that reads “Cosmic Meals served daily,” which denotes what grains will be served on which day aligning with what celestial body.
We arrived on a Sunday just before 11 a.m. The chosen Cosmic Meal ingredient was wheat. I needed caffeine immediately. The first indication that I was in for a treat came by way of a classic: the Pirate’s Chai Latte ($5.25). A matcha-tea chai infused with several spices was one of the first beverages I ever purchased in the city of Ventura, and 15 years later, the warm spiced latte hadn’t changed much, with the one exception being replacement of cow’s milk with oat milk. I challenge you to taste the difference. (You won’t.)
Ambrosia sticks with the heavenly theme in such dishes as the Shooting Star Parsley Mint Salad ($8.25) and the Supernova Sunflower Seed Ship ($10.25/14.75). This was the closest I had come (as yet) to ordering off the menu at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
I composed myself and decided on the Saturn BLT+C ($10.25/14.75), the most familiar-sounding item on the menu. The sandwich would come with vegan BAKon, seasonal lettuce, tomato and house-made almond cheese. My partner chose the COSMIC Midday Meal ($12.25). This special features the cosmic grain of the day paired with the chef’s special of the day. It was a Sunday, need I remind you, so the grain of the day was farro, a type of wheat, and it would be paired with a roasted fennel and cranberry salad. The universe is a chaotic place.
Along with our entrees we ordered the Eclipse Plate ($12.75), a selection of three of Ambrosia’s house-made dips: the Comet Carrot Paté, Sunshine Hummus and Supernova Sunflower Seed paté.
First, throw out your notion of a BLT when ordering Ambrosia’s. The sandwich arrived on a carefully curated leaf of romaine with two slices of tomato topped with house-made almond cheese atop them. Rest neatly atop of that were two slices of BAKon. That is, rice paper made to look like the real deal. It was glossy and slightly transparent. There were two of these boatlike creations on the plate. The farro dish arrived next, and it too was topped with the BAKon (by request, $3) and sat alongside a generously portioned salad ripe with roasted fennel, orange slices and cranberries.
The lettuce and tomato were exceedingly fresh and the almond cheese, soft and creamy, a wonderful combination. The BAKon was a hit, as crisp as it appeared and smoky. The meal proved enticingly light, and this was the full order, which came with two BLTs.
The farro had been cooked to perfection, savory and al dente, with the added inclusion of the BAKon a good choice. The salad was out-of-this-world fresh. I wouldn’t have been surprised to have found a garden in the backyard, but via the menu, we were told that all ingredients are sourced as locally as possible.
The hit of the meal came via the Eclipse Plate. Whoever is making these patés needs a Michelin star for the simple fact that I forgot we were eating carrots at one point. The three dips were served with gluten-free crackers. I’m a big fan of gluten, but it didn’t distract from the superb trio. The carrot paté, a Moroccan-inspired version with basil pesto, was the favorite, but all three were fantastic. The hummus, infused with parsley and mint, went first, and we were surprised to find that we were not eating the sunflower seed dip but rather a chipotle-infused nut paté the name of which escapes me, lost somewhere in the void of deep space.
Consider my mind and soul cleansed. Ambrosia redefines the meaning of “food of the gods” in a universal language. When dining in, keep an open mind and just go for whatever speaks to you on a cosmic level.