High and Dry : French eatery bids adieu to El Nino with a sunset dining menu on the upper patio.


Weather forecasters may be apprehensive in bidding an official adieu to El Nino. But not restaurateur Didier Poirier.

The owner and chef of 71 Palm Restaurant in Ventura is so convinced that Ventura County has seen the last of the nasty storm system, he has begun serving a Sunset Menu four evenings a week on the upstairs outdoor patio of the French establishment.

“El Nino is gone and this is to celebrate--we’re tired of El Nino,” Poirier said. “The Sunset Menu will be served only on the patio, so people can enjoy the beautiful sunset and the ocean view.”

The new menu, available from 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, offers a choice of a la carte dishes, alcoholic beverages, and a pairing of the two. Some new dishes have been added to the 71 Palm menu specifically for the patio dining.


Among the items on the a la carte list are oysters on the half-shell ($7.95), a smoked salmon plate with capers and red onion ($7.95), sauteed escargot with garlic and mushrooms ($7.75), frog legs (a new addition, $10.95), onion soup ($5.95), a breaded goat cheese salad ($6.75) and an onion tart ($6.50).

The combination food and drink selection, with all items priced at $8.95, includes a brie and Camembert sampler with a Trefethen Cabernet, potatoes caviar and Domaine Ste. Michelle Champagne, chicken brochette and a Belvedere Chardonnay, and fried potatoes and Windsor Pale Ale.

As for the drink list, there are five white wines ($4.50 to $5.95 a glass), five reds ($4.95 to $5.95), six beers ($3.75 to $4.95) and a couple of champagnes ($4.50 and $6.95).

The restaurant is at 71 N. Palm St.



And now for the startling revelation of the week: Women aren’t the only ones who can cook.

At least that’s what the Thousand Oaks Kiwanis Club folks are claiming with its third annual “Men Can Cook Too!” food and wine festival and car show, June 28 in Westlake.

Mostly amateur (and some professional) male chefs will prepare their favorite entrees and desserts for the discriminating taste buds of a panel of judges and the general public.

“Men Can Cook is a celebration of the culinary abilities that men can exhibit,” said Tony Antonelli, an event organizer. “What we are really trying to do is showcase some of the amateurs, who are in some cases as good as the professionals. I think they’re underrated.”

Last year, 45 chefs--40 of them amateurs--entered the competition, and they got pretty elaborate with their creations, Antonelli said.

“One of the semifinalists was a salmon dish--the salmon was caught by the individual in Alaska and he brought it down here and cooked it for the festival. There was some ethnic cooking too, some Italian and Greek. There is just a wide variety--some meat, some fish and very, very good desserts.”

Registration deadline for chefs is Sunday. There is no entry fee.


The festival will be held in the park area next to the Hyatt Westlake, north of 2801 Townsgate Road. The car show will run from noon to 4 p.m., with the food and wine tasting from 4 to 8 p.m. Cost is $25 per person. (805) 376-0219.