Tierra Sur at Herzog Wine Cellars
3201 Camino Del Sol, Oxnard
805-983-1560
www.herzogwine.com
http://tierrasuratherzog.com/
$7-$20


I’ve been curious for some time about the locally sourced cuisine at Tierra Sur restaurant at Herzog Wine Cellars, located in an industrial park in Oxnard just a few minutes off the 101. A couple of things held me back: the location (a bit inconvenient, especially for imbibing) and the cost (prices aren’t posted on the online menu but I’m here to tell you they are “up there”).

When I learned that the winery had launched an afternoon tapas menu in the winery tasting room (adjacent to the smallish dining room) last February, I decided to satisfy my curiosity in a hopefully more affordable venue.

A couple of things.

  1. I found it very confusing to sort out what was served when and where, for a few reasons. You can make online reservations for lunch or dinner at Tierra Sur. It looks like you can’t eat at the winery between 3:30-5 p.m., but you actually can order from the tapas menu from 3:30 until 8 p.m. — in the wine tasting venue.
  2. It was not easy to get an actual human on the phone the few times I called to verify. (I ended up leaving a message for the dining room that was returned the next day and I actually did reach a human after a few tries on another occasion).

That being said, I met Camarillo marketing maven Janie Hewson for “dinch” — something hearty between lunch and dinner in the winery’s attractive high-ceilinged tasting room at 3:30 p.m. on a Monday afternoon.

Tapas may indeed be the most affordable option for many of us to enjoy Head Chef Gabe Garcia’s inventive and tasty creations.

There are some marvelous flavors — specifically the hot pink pickled lime onions that top the very tasty, light and crispy fish and chips and the amazing jalapeño aioli dipping sauce for the lightly battered ono/mahi-mahi and yucca fries (popular in Brazil, the manioc root fries have been showing up on stateside menus of late).

The veal sausage pizza— possibly the world’s tiniest $20 pizza at five inches — was packed with great flavors from the sausage, bell peppers, cashew cheese, tangy red sauce and chewy dough.

The crispy large-ish cut French fries rock: instead of ketchup, ask if they might substitute some of the awesome aioli.

We tried the colorful pickle plate ($9) with pickled beets, apples, carrots, cucumbers and cauliflower arrayed on a wooden board — more Janie’s thing than mine, and challenging with some of the wine pairings. The food tended to be on the salty side (which both Janie and I like).

Our favorite wine in the tasting, beginning with the Baron Herzog white zinfandel, was the last pour of the flight. If you partake in the six flight wine tasting ($10 per person) and purchase a bottle of wine (I bought the $22 Weinstock Cellar Select Cab, Paso Robles), the tastings are free. Such a deal!

Being a kosher restaurant (closed on Friday and Saturday for the Sabbath), we spotted a few bearded men donning yarmulkes, as well as a gal in a sparkly blouse, tattooed fella and his date in a whiplash neck brace obviously numbing her pain!

We asked to see the dining room’s dinner and lunch menus. A few dinner items include 8-, 12- and16-ounce steaks ($55-$78); gnocchi ($34) and a charcuterie board ($56) that I bet is amazing. Less expensive choices include a beef cheek handpie ($20) and mushroom soup ($14).

Lunch and the tapas menu both have the $18 “BYOB” (build your own burger) with sides including lamb bacon ($4) that boast online “thumbs up” reviews.

Kudos to the mostly jazz playlist; this always wins brownie points in my book. Service was mixed. There was about a 15-minute gap between Janie’s fish and chips and my pizza. This was explained thusly: “Tapas each come out at different times.”

The bill was $60 for the food, $23 on a separate bill for the wine (that rendered our wine flights gratis) so with tip, $100+ seemed slightly pricey for an afternoon nosh with wine tasting. Just the same, we were super full and I certainly didn’t need supper when I got home.