Hidden Gem for Foodies in the SFV! (Peasant Wine Bistro)
While enjoying a fun filled evening at the West Valley Food and Wine Tour on Wednesday, I had the pleasure of meeting restauranteur, Greg Woodbury. Greg is the owner of Peasant Wine Bistro in Tarzana. I had seen this little sign off the side of Ventura before but never saw a physical restaurant so I thought it might be a mirage in the valley dessert! Friday night when my gal-pal Jacquelyn and I decided we wanted to go out for a girls night, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something new!
We pulled into a strip mall off Ventura and Vanalden and drove through a porte-cochere lined with growing ivy and twinkling lights. Behind the building is a lot where there is free parking for visitors.
When you walk in the door of Peasant Wine Bistro, it definitely feels like a quaint Manhattan bar. Rustic wood lines the floor, walls, and ceiling, while crystal chandeliers give the space a more elegant touch. There are rhinstones inlaid in the booth that runs down the length of the space. Greg personally welcomed us with a full tour. Two truly unique elements were the back dining table that is made out of antique door, and (believe it or not) the bathroom tile in the girls bathroom! It was stunning! Beautiful blue and yellow tile straight out of the '60's, all original to the building. The small, but stocked, wine cellar is temperature controlled and Greg carries only the most unique and special wine selection. He told us, "I don't sell what you can buy in a grocery store." I asked him about his Italian selections (seeing as I am somewhat of an Italian wine snob after spending extended periods of time in Italy). He said, "Oh man, some guy just bought out all 3 bottles I had of an '06 Brunello." My jaw dropped. I'm a huge Brunello fan. Greg responded, "Don't worry, he left me some in the decanter, I will let you try it." I grinned. We made our way back to the bar and found one thing that a girl in bar is happy to stumble across: a purse hook under the bar! #Score
Greg is extremely attentive and hard working. Before we could even peek at a menu, he had already set our bar spot with plates, utensils, and wine glasses. As we pondered "what to order" he popped out of the wine locker with a bottle of velvety 2009 Luca Bosio Barolo. I must say I think I enjoyed this wine even more so than my coveted taste of '06 Brunello. This wine was extremely smooth and drinkable, earthy and dry.
Not long after our first sips of wine, did plates start pouring out of the kitchen.
First came a beautiful plate of Ahi Tuna Carpaccio (Menu Price: $14). Sushi is generally not my favorite food group so I was unsure if I'd like this dish. However, I must say...give me more! I would go back just for this app. The thinly sliced Ahi Tuna comes with a bed of cabbage slaw, wasabi soy sauce, and crisp cucumbers. The hint of wasabi is perfect! It is not too strong but it really brings all the flavors together. The cucumbers and slaw bring a freshness and a crunch that is delightful. And most importantly, the fish truly melts in your mouth and did not have one bit of fishiness. This is a must have.
(Photo courtesy of "Chris T." from Yelp)
The next plate that appeared was a sampler of a few other items on the appetizer menu. My fork went straight for the Deviled Eggs (Menu Price $7). These are truly unique eggs, drizzled with Pesto Olive Oil, Balsamic Glaze, and Proscuitto di Parma. I moved down to the warm Butternut Squash Ravioli with fresh sage and brown butter sauce ($10). Their flavor was rich and delicious. They are a little on the heavy side (and once again very rich) so I was glad there was only two, but overall totally a must-try. The curry-spiced Lamb Meatballs ($9) melted in my mouth and had a hint of sweetness from the balsamic demi-glaze and a kick of heat that came in at the end. Last, but certainly not least, I bit into the Fig & Blue Cheese Bruschetta with Proscuitto, grape tomatoes, balsamic and pesto olive oil. The combination of salt from the cured meat, and the bold sweetness of the homemade fig jam, was a party in my mouth. The jam really made it.
I had been eyeing the Roasted Cauliflower Salad ($13) on the menu. Luckily, it was the next thing that came out! This salad is for someone who loves a combo of sweet and salty, even on a bed of lettuce! There was a bed of watercress and what seemed like parsley, topped with olives, radishes, dried cranberries, almonds, blue cheese, and an apple cider vinaigrette. The olives were a tad over-powering for me, but I'm sure would have tasted nice in a Martini!
Salad #2 consisted of warm Wild Mushrooms served over baby mixed greens, crispy pancetta, sunflower seeds, grape tomatoes, and doused in a bold mustard seed dressing ($13).
The main course was the Chef's Special for the evening: a garlic Shrimp Scampi with pasta. The garlic was roasted and sweet, the shrimp succulent, and the pasta perfectly al dente!
Now, just as we thought we were finished for the night, Greg came from the kitchen holding a Chocolate Budino Pudding with Espresso Powder and homemade whipped cream. The pudding was creamy, rich and chocolatey. It went very well with the remaining Barolo.
We toasted with the bartenders and Greg as the night came to an end. Our final toast was with a glass of a beautiful french Burgundy style Bourgogne Pinot Noir. This Domaine Masse was light, smooth, a hint of Fruit and very easy to drink!
The entire staff at Peasant Wine Bistro was engaging, attentive, and knowledgable. Greg, himself, was hands-on with customers and in the kitchen making sure everyone's food and experience was spectacular. Jacquelyn and I left with full bellies and smiles! We will certainly be back and will be bringing family and friends to enjoy the unique space, ambiance, wine and truly delectable cuisine.
The Winey Foodie