I just got back from a very good meal at Cafe 14 in Agoura Hills with my parents. For people who have been looking for a nice, elegant restaurant in the Agoura/Westlake/Thousand Oaks area, this is a wonderful choice.
The food is Cal-Mediterranean with a lot of things you see on trendy menus, but the quality is very good and some of the dishes were truly outstanding.
The three of us arrived at 7:30. The restaurant is in the back of a small shopping center just off Reyes Adobe Road, on the frontage road that runs just to the east of the 101 Fwy. There was plenty of parking in the lot and only one other group in the restaurant. Richard, our server, was very pleasant. The menu had about 8 appetizers and 8 entrees, but there were about 4-5 special appetizers and 2-3 special entrees. Richard made recommendations on appetizers, and we were not disappointed.
Stepmom and I both made a meal of two appetizers, while my dad had an appetizer and entree. We also split a bruschetta appetizer after Richard recommended it. Here's a rundown:
Gazpacho with jumbo shrimp. I love gazpacho and prefer it to have some density (i.e., not a thin, tomatoey soup), but also be pureed (i.e., without large hunks of vegetables). This was the just the way I like the consistency. It had a nice blend of flavors and a little spice, but not too much heat. Stepmom hates really spicy foods, but she loved the gazpacho. The two jumpo shrimp in the soup were perfectly cooked and very tender.
Tuna tartare towers. Dad got this as an appetizer and stepmom had it as an entree. This was a good sized appetizer. It was a stack of three crispy wontons with very fresh, good quality ahi tuna in small chunks. It was dressed in a sweet sauce, most likely made from ponzu with a bit of wasabi. Stepmom and dad loved it, with dad declaring it the best tuna tartare he's ever had. I liked it a lot, although my preference generally is to have a little less sauce. Still, it was extremely good.
Beet salad with gorgonzola, mixed greens and sweet walnuts with a balsamic dressing. I'm not a beet fan at all, but stepmom is. This was made with red and gold beets, and she loved it. I tasted it and, for beets, thought it was good. If served without the beets, it would still have been a very good salad.
Bruschetta with melted brie and mushrooms. I think they were portabellos, but I forgot to check. This consisted of three pieces of bruschetta with the brie and mushrooms on top and some fresh mache. It was served with a sauce made of dijon. They were fantastic and I'm glad the server mentioned them. We got one order for the table.
Seared scallops with applewood bacon and mushrooms. Wow. This was an appetizer that I had for my entree. It was three scallops with a pile of bacon and mushrooms. There were two sauces, one a small bit of creamy sauce under the scallops and the other a thinner sauce. In combination, it tasted of garlic cream with a lemony flavor. It's hard to describe, but it was amazing. We were all sopping up the remaining sauce with bread, because it was that good.
Dad had the only disappointing item of the night. It was a scallop and shrimp special with sauteed julienned vegetables served in a tomato-saffron broth. It sounded delicious and it looked very good. Unfortunately, the sauce was a bit of a letdown. It was thin and too tomatoey. I couldn't taste any saffron and it just was a bit bland. Everything was well-cooked and some people probably would like it. We were disappointed.
For dessert, we shared a banana bread pudding with rum sauce. It was excellent and did not last long. I couldn't taste that much of the banana, but the caramel and bread pudding was luscious.
I'm not very familiar with the area, so I don't know how prices compare to LA proper. Appetizers ranged from $5 for soup to $13 for the scallops. Most of the appetizers that did not have seafood were in the $7-$10 range. Entrees were mostly in the $20-range. I think the shrimp and scallop entree was $24.
All in all, this was a very good meal and I would definitely go back. I heard Richard say that they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
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