State Street Ballet's lithe dancers gracefully pirouette to classical masterpieces during performances modernized with special effects and digital technology. The season's first show, Starry Night, celebrates Vincent van Gogh's art in a multimedia performance that juxtaposes art, music, theater, dance, and text from the post-Impressionist's recovered Twitter feeds. Choreographed by celebrated dancesmith William Soleau, the ballet aims to mimic the flow of oil paint across a canvas through dancers’ movement as videos project a backdrop of collaged paintings and letters. The surfaces of the recently renovated Granada Theatre are also draped with art, from Moorish-inspired geometric patterns on the golden walls to decorative niches imbued with Old World grandeur.
Everything at Ojai Beverage Company revolves around their drinks. That's because cousins and owners Jorge Alem and Joby Yobe grew up in the liquor business, and wanted to create a space for fellow aficionados to sample, purchase, and pair their wide selection of wines and beers. Their guests sample glasses of wine from local vineyards, cleanse palates between sips with bites of the kitchen's pulled pork sliders, olive tapenade, or burgers blended with a cabernet and rosemary reduction. Bartenders pour out 20 local and international beers such as Ninkasi's Sasquath Legacy WheatWine or Rodenbach Grand Cru's sour red ale. Once guests have found a vintage or beer they like, they can purchase it in the shop. To keep up to date on the shop's newest and most unique flavors, guests can also sign up for their monthly beer club which sends bottles of beers picked for their flavor or ability to christen a ship.
At Java Joe's, guests sip freshly made coffee drinks and graze baked goods, rummage through a collection of eclectic clothing and merchandise, and tap toes to live tunes. Baristas blend aromatic shots of espresso with frothy milk riddled with chocolaty notes to create a 16- or 20-ounce café mocha ($3.85–$4.25). Utilitarian cups of joe ($1.95 for 16 oz.; $2.25 for 20 oz.) fill mugs for on-the-go sippers and bulk beans ($13.95/lb.) allow customers to bring robust flavors and caffeine-jolts home. Pluck a pastry from a bakery filled with treats, such as scones ($2.45), chocolate-filled croissants ($2.95), and cheesecakes ($3.75) that quench food cravings and hush grumbling tummies like a swallowed Paul Simon 8-track.
Five Yelpers give Venture Harbor Comedy Club, formerly named Comedy Esquire, an average rating of 4.5 stars:
The Ventura County Ballet Company ushers in the holiday season with a magical rendition of The Nutcracker, which is accompanied by the 52-piece Ventura College Symphony Orchestra, and features a star-filled cast of 115 local and international dancers. New staging and video effects sprinkle the classic production with modern flair, and a freshly installed snow scene dazzles crowds as characters pirouette through twinkling flurries and dance to Tchaikovsky's immortal score. Anchoring the cast, both Madeleine Riddle and Makenna Ortiz alternately slide into the slippers of Clara, Hawaii native Ryan Camou tackles the royal tights of The Prince, and California native and professional dancer, Season Winquest, captures the ethereal essence of "Dream Clara". To raise the curtains on a fantastical foot, an opening dance sequence spotlights local celebrities such as Bo Jaxon and Dedria Brunett, who was crowned Miss California International 2012.
As Renaissance's resident nail artist, Lori Gonzales wields thoroughly sanitized equipment to trim nails and dress them up in flattering coats of color. Feet ease into a tub padded with disposable liners as they undergo a toe-coddling pedicure, and fingertips receive similarly luxurious treatment above sea level as Lori deftly swabs nails with eye-grabbing shades of polish. Because she emphasizes safety through sterility, Lori employs mostly single-use tools.
A frequent finalist for Best Comedy Club according to Ventura County Reporter's readers, Ventura Improv Company offers the only improv comedy in Ventura and has been eliciting chortles and guffaws with family-friendly farce for the past 21 years. The VIC's veteran comedic combatants perform unscripted comedy through scenes, games, and music created on the spot. The VIC performs shows such as Spontaneous Broadway, a full-length musical whose plot is conceived through audience suggestions, and TheatreSports Team Match, a two-team battle where competitors perform a challenge set by the host.
Between the disco ball that glitters above the dining room, the toy sharks swimming in bucket-sized cocktails, and the Pop Rocks that crackle in watermelon margaritas, it's pretty obvious that Baja Sharkeez is a lot of fun. These playful touches are the handiwork of Ron and Greg Newman, a father-son team for whom Sharkeez is a labor of love. Ron had found success with the Red Onion chain of restaurants in the '70s and '80s, but upon Greg's graduation from USC, the pair decided to start fresh with a new concept. According to The Tasting Panel, Greg enlisted some of his fraternity brothers to help develop the brand, and today, the small chain maintains a boisterous, beachy vibe that reflects Greg's Hermosa Beach upbringing.
In that spirit, Sharkeez hosts plenty of special events, including July 4th hot-dog-eating contests and bachelorette parties with drink specials and party favors. But even on a normal day there's generally a crowd, whether it be families ordering off the kids' menu at lunch, or coworkers stretching happy hour into a late night. The kitchen cooks up an extensive selection of Baja-Mexican dishes, such as burritos stuffed with mesquite chicken or the very popular mahi-mahi tacos. Those looking to drink with their meal can order spiked lemonades and fresh-fruit margaritas or build their own cocktail at the bloody mary bar.
An ideal place for anybody looking for a slower-paced atmosphere that still offers plenty to do, Uptown Bar & Lounge seeks to serve as a neighborhood bar for all types. The recently renovated lounge is divided into distinct sections. A gleaming granite bar supports 12 taps and shelves full of high-end spirits, and visitors perched on leather chairs at high-top tables gaze at 13 flat-screen TVs broadcasting sporting events. Classy touches—an old-fashioned cash register here, a piano there—elevate the space from the typical sports bar.
Elsewhere, two red-felted pool tables are an outlet for the casually competitive, while a seating area appointed with sofas provides a refuge for guests who can't watch a shot clock count down without turning into a pumpkin at the buzzer. Also, parts of the bar are converted into a rousing music venue to host open-mic nights, DJ sessions, and live bands. The back patio, with its couches, fire pits, and additional TV, is a pleasant spot to enjoy a cool Santa Barbara evening, especially when you include a pizza cooked in the outdoor oven.
Family owned and operated since 1923, Metropolitan Theatres unspools blockbuster and art-house independent films at 19 locations in the U.S. and Canada using superior film presentation and digital sound systems. Theatre concession stands dole Coca-Cola products and detonate kernels of popcorn to fill bellies and share with encroaching Godzillas. Snacks in hand, customers sink into seats inside conventional or stadium-style theatres to laugh, gasp, and grimace at star-studded titles, such as The Grey, War Horse, or Hugo. Independent films such as The Artist and The Descendants appease creative tastes.
From the ivy-covered outside in, Barrel 33 cultivates a cozy bar atmosphere conducive to long conversations and savored sips of wine. Their wine cellar, kept at a constant 56 degrees, hosts dozens of domestic and international red and white wines by the bottle. Reds include a hefty selection of cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir from Sonoma and Santa Barbara. French champagne, sparkling wine, and chardonnay from Napa and the Russian River valley, on the other hand, dominate the selection of whites. To accompany the wine, Barrel 33’s kitchen assembles plates of olives, duck pate, brie with Grand Marnier strawberry sauce, or crisp thin-crust pizzas.
Red walls stretch around the interior of the wine bar, complementing both the stone-topped bar and the dappled tulip lights hanging over it. Tall chairs with carved arms and plush crimson cushions sit at attention at the counter. Outside in the enclosed wine garden, palm fronds reach up to the strings of fairy lights stretched across the patio. A wood fire crackles in a fireplace made from the same chunky boulders as the building’s exterior, sending light flickering over wicker chairs and the glass tables’ ornate legs, which were donated by the late glass man, who lived in a glass house but never threw stones.
From their perch on a dining table, Blu Orkid’s eponymous flowers watch over the restaurant’s hustle and bustle, which begins as bakers knead fresh bread in the early morning and ends once dinner plates are rounded up after midnight. Breakfasts of frittatas and brioche french toast pique appetites for lunches and dinners of tuna-almondine sandwiches, pears poached in port and topped with bleu cheese, and salmon flavored with miso and meyer lemons. In the bakery, chefs torch sugar atop crème brûulée and serve chocolate lava cake. They dish out their gourmet treats at sunny patio tables or indoors amid palm fronds, blue mood lighting, and chandeliers that wish they could feel love.
Writer and performer Tom Dugan—familiar from bit parts on Friends and Curb Your Enthusiasm —corralled three nominations from the L.A. Stage Alliance Ovation Awards, including Best Play and Best Leading Actor for his portrayal of the "Jewish James Bond" in his riveting, one-man performance about a Holocaust survivor's relentless quest for justice. Pacing through his box-cluttered Vienna office on the day of his retirement, Simon fills in a group of off-screen American students on the tactical methods he used to hunt Adolf Eichmann, Franz Stangl, and Dr. Mengele, among other Nazi war criminals. He infuses his anecdotes with mordant wit and genuine warmth, laughing over being mistaken for Laurence Olivier (who played him in the film The Boys From Brazil) one moment, and making mournfully poetic observations the next, such as likening a sunflower to a periscope of the dead. As his memories wander from the Warsaw ghetto to Jerusalem, from death camps to the slums of Buenos Aires, he paints a gripping portrait of humanity's unquenchable thirst for justice even in the face of utmost horror.
Casual and laid back is the vibe that emanates from Amigo's Surf Cantina. Its decor is festive, but not over the top, with exposed-brick walls and small pieces of Mexican art adorning them. The menu is simple yet tasty, with traditional Mexican dishes such as chicken mole, chili relleno, tamales, and taquitos. The Super quesadilla is an inflated version of the standard, stuffed with jack cheese and meat. On some nights, live music fills the room as customers sip house-special margaritas made with a selection from at least 10 different tequilas.
When Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives host Guy Fieri swung into The Kitchen, it was the lamb burger that caught his eye—a 6-ounce, well-seasoned patty topped with red-pepper relish and placed between two freshly baked buns made onsite. These straight-from-the-oven baked goods are a part of The Kitchen's charm, its bustling bakery sharing space with the dining room and craft-beer bar.
The meals crafted in that kitchen include the Cuban sandwich, pulled pork and sliced pit ham on grilled bakery bread. The hearty meatloaf plate skips the sandwiching in favor of a housemade barbecue glaze and pairs with frothy brews.
In fact, one of the libations from an impressive roster of craft beers would be enough to draw brew-lovers to its bar, but The Kitchen takes things a step further, hosting a monthly beer-brewing class led by the restaurant's own brewmaster.