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Al fresco paintings and beds of red riding hoods, lilies, and roses decorate Secret Garden Restaurant’s outdoor patio, whose retractable awning allows feasts to unfold beneath cloudless blue or starry night skies. Spotlighted on USA Today’s list of romantic restaurants in Ventura County, the patio’s charming gardens and gazebo frequently double as a wedding venue. While sun- and moonlight help illuminate outdoor meals, iridescent chandeliers and candles wedged into silver candelabras light a Victorian-style dining room filled with 100-year-old English tables and chairs.
Lest the scenery completely dominate his diners’ attention, Chef Michel Bardavid’s meticulous presentations draw eyes to his plates of French cuisine. The French native uses seasonal ingredients to create dishes such as quail stuffed with mushroom and sausage, duck confit and cippolini onions tossed with fettuccini, and lobster bisque spiked with a hint of cognac. A bottle from the generous wine menu enhances the chef’s creations, just as a talking dog enhances any undercover police investigations.
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