Dinner at Suzanne’s

Suzanne’s Cuisine:

Everyone is talking about this restaurant. When you ask any local or worker bee they will tell you to try Suzanne’s. All this hype…how could something be this good? Well after I sat down and experiencing their unbridled hospitality and great food, I understand why. The whole place is warm and fuzzy with the dining room, the lights and the nicely heated patio. My table was right next to the roaring real fireplace, just one more reason to go to Suzanne’s. It has great food, romantic atmosphere, pleasant wait staff, and more.
The restaurant is set back and once was a house, but since then has been turned into this gallant dining establishment.

Here’s what I tried:

Seasonal Soup – butternut squash. This is a very heart warming soup, good texture and flavor.

Eggplant tart – roasted eggplant with tomatoes and goat cheese. My business associate Howie Rosen lives in Ojai and raves about Suzanne’s, and especially this tart. Well Howie was right, there is so much complexity going on here, it is a real party in my mouth. Steamed mussels or clams – steamed Provencal style. These clams are so evenly cooked, what can you say about perfection other than, don’t mess with it!!

Homemade shrimp dumplings with two dripping sauces and edamame salad. Something you would order at a dim-sum restaurant, right! At Suzanne’s you can get excellent quality exotic food items as well. Nice big dumplings, truly unique and lots of shrimp flavor

Caesar salad with garlic croutons. Very refreshing, crisp and lovely, one of the best Caesars ever.

Baby spinach salad with Ojai oranges seasoned pistachios and French feta cheese. Very healthy and nicely mixed ingredients with a great tangy finish.

Pasta & Entrees:
Fettuccini with portabella mushrooms, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula and a goat cheese truffle cream sauce. OMG this one is like tasting heaven, so rich and pure, a remarkable achievement.

Tender calf’s liver with sautéed onion and pasilla chili’s. Only if you like calf’s liver would I order this one.

Jumbo Shrimp slow-cooked in garlic chili butter. It is so hard for me to even review any of this, because everything is so fantastic. Perfectly balanced, and beautiful presentation.

Grilled loin lamb chops with fresh rosemary demi-glace sauce. Perfect blending of sauce and meat, and the lamb is cooked rare and yummy.

Prime New York Steak with garlic herb butter. OK I give up, hands down the best Steak ever!!

Warm Chocolate Tart with White Coffee Sauce. Just the right amount, and right way to complete this marvelous experience.

Barone Fini Pinot Grigio, Doc Valdadige 2009 – soft, round fruit fills the mouth with freshly juicy flavors in this crisp, dry wine from northern Italy. Great with both salads as well as the Shrimp Dumplings.
Letitia Estate Chardonnay, Arroyo Grande Valley 2009 – flavors of lemon drop, ripe pear and crisp green apple: elegant oak and bright acidity; flavored mineral finish. Very good with the squash soup, as well as the shrimp entrée.
Paul Jaboulet Aine Rose, “Parallele 45” Cotes du Rhone , France 2011 – 50% Grenache, 40% cinsault & 10% syrah; this racy rose has some serious weight on the palate; dry, yet fresh fruit with a touch of creaminess and red summer berry; strawberry, spice and citrus zest. This wine went very well with the eggplant tart.
Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc & Viognier Blend, California 2011 – bursting with flavors of citrus, apples and peach; 79% chenin blanc 21% viognier; 91 pts Robert Parker. This wine accompanied the pasta nicely.
Daniel Gehrs Cabernet, Central Coast 2010 – black currant, blackberry and cassis; well-integrated tannis create a dry, yet silky wine with a long finish. Of course went great with the prime New York steak.
Justin Vineyards & Winery Cabernet, Paso Robles 2010 – sweet black and red fruits; blackberry, raspberry and fig mingle with caramel and vanilla, soft and dry. This too was fantastic with the steak.
Kunde Estate Merlot, Sonoma Valley 2006 – full-bodied merlot with great depth and expression; blackberry, cassis, herbs, chocolate and cedar notes stand out on the palate, lively but elegant tannins. Had to try this one with the calf’s liver.
Ojai Vineyard Syrah, Roll Ranch 2007 – offers the most – easy going accessibility along with a big, velvety, opulent texture; beautiful dark fruit including blackberry and blueberry fruit; this savory and rich syrah is at once both supple and sturdy. Lamb, lamb, lamb in all of its glory, a must try!
Nino Franco, Rustico Prosecco Docg, Valdobbiadene, Italy – an outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character; rather exuberant yet steely; white peaches, crushed rocks, smoke and flowers are some of the nuances; a rich, texture finish rounds things out nicely; 90 pts Robert Parker. Managed nicely with the desert.

I met Suzanne at the very end and her words were so welcoming and inviting. She told me her story of wanting to try the restaurant business for just 5 years, that was 15 years ago. Suzanne is 71 years young; she has more energy then anyone half her age… she’s on her second F150 truck! to look at her you would never think she would be a truck driver. She manages to spend half of the week in her Los Angeles home with her UCLA professor husband and the other half running her very successful restaurant. She does have help from her daughter Sandra, who was only going to help out her Mom’s restaurant temporarily, she has never left. Sandra and her family live next door to the restaurant, so she is very hands on.

How could you go wrong, the atmosphere is charming, the ingredients local and fresh, but the real story here is about a loving close knit family, who have created a wonderland of enjoyment. So now if anyone asks me where to go in Ojai, I will say I was bathed in glorious cuisine at Suzanne’s, and you too should jump into this well of goodness.

Suzanne’s Cuisine
(805) 640-1961
502 W Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA


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