Story and photos by Karen Weber
After having our dessert at the chocolate shop, we switched it up and went up Main Street for drinks.
VenTiki, a kitschy retro tiki bar, proved to be a group favorite. The decor included bamboo pillars, fishing nets and Polynesian statues, plus black-and-white episodes of “Gilligan’s Island” playing on the TV. Skipper Scott Noble, one of the owners, set us up with a finger’s worth of mai tai made to Trader Vic’s original recipe, less sweet and with more of a kick than you’d find at most places these days.
Noble said his bar and restaurant appeals to a more mature crowd (most of us in the group were old enough to remember the 1960s). He said younger visitors complain about the price of the drinks, but don’t realize his authentic recipes have two or three times the liquor found in the more common, modified versions of tiki classics, such as the Blue Hawaii and the Zombie.
The kahlua pork slider he served was also excellent, full of flavor and not too much sauce.
Then we turned and walked down Main Street again to get our main course for lunch.
At Paradise Pantry, we sat down to the most luscious grilled cheese (excuse me, Grilled
Cheeeez, according to the menu). The panini contained Vella rosemary jack and aged cheddar with caramelized onions. The serving also contained an example of their cheese plates with grapes, artisan cheese, nuts, olives and dried fruit. It went wonderfully with our sample of a blended white wine from the Central Coast, Gravity Check by Ground Effect Wine Co., and equally well with a Santa Barbara red, Curtis Winery’s Heritage Cuvee. That’s all California goodness with California wine and California cheese (Vella is in Sonoma). Paradise Pantry is also known for its Mac & Cheeez — three cheeses and a parmesan crust for the standard; don’t forget to ask about the weekly “killer” special.
And there was still more to come without leaving Main Street.
VenTiki Tiki Lounge and Lanai
701 E. Main St. 805-667-8887
222. E. Main St. 805-641-9440