Mikey and I spent last night at a cigar tasting event. The cigars were pretty good, I think. But then again, I don’t really know anything about cigars, so they could have been horrible and I wouldn’t have known it. The place that had the tasting was the little cigar shop on Agoura road, next to Bad Ass Coffee, in Westlake Village. The owner does these tastings every couple of months and there was a pretty decent turn out. We just sat around, smoked a free cigar, watched the Lakers beat the tar out of Orlando, and had a wee dram of good Kentucky bourbon. All in all, it was a very nice evening.
After the event, Mikey and I were starving. Because it was pretty late, our options were sort of limited. We ended up at BJ’s on T.O. Boulevard and although I usually don’t review chain restaurants, I just couldn’t resist doing a post on BJ’s.
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse – Near the intersection of Westlake Blvd and T.O. Blvd, Thousand Oaks
I really like this place. It’s too bad that I hardly ever get to go back to restaurants because we’ve got so many awesome places to review thanks to you guys.
BJ’s is very similar in feel to Rock Bottom in San Diego. It’s a fun place to watch the game, hang out with friends, or grab after work drinks. I’m betting that most of you guys have been there already so I won’t waste too much time talking about the restaurant. Instead, I’ll just give you a few of my favorites.
Mikey and I started out with BJ’s newest appetizer, the Thai Shrimp Lettuce Wraps. These are billed as spicy, but honestly they aren’t very hot at all. The shrimp do have a little spice that comes on gradually, but that spice is countered by the sweetness of the rest of the dish, including a sauce that I found too sweet to even use. Therefore, I made Mikey eat it. Mikey’ll eat anything.
I don’t usually get appetizers at BJ’s because their main courses are huge. The one exception I make from time to time is their chips and salsa. I really enjoy the salsa that they give you and the chips are always fresh and have just the right amount of salt.
The best appetizer, of course, is beer and BJ’s has some great options brewed in-house. I enjoy the 7 taster, which gives you a sample of all of them. My absolute favorite is the Piranha pale ale, a hoppy, slightly bitter, flavorful brew that always hits the spot. The other beers in the 7 taster are the blonde, hef, red, porter, stout and the “nutty brewnette.”
As far as main courses go, I have a few favorites that I like to keep in the rotation. Most people get the mini pizzas, which are chicago deep-dish style. My favorite of these is the Great White. It has an alfredo sauce, chicken, tomato and garlic and is surprisingly light. They also make an awesome thin crust pesto pizza, which is on the appetizer menu.
The two dishes I was debating between last night were the Chili Cheeseburger and the Parmesan Crusted Chicken. I ended up choosing the parmesan chicken, which is coated in parmesan and panko breadcrumbs and fried to the perfect crispiness. I’d like to say a special thank you to our server, Kim, for talking me out of the burger. My bathroom scale said thank you this morning.
One of the great things about BJ’s is that they have great sides. The mashed potatoes that came with my chicken were creamy and delicious. They went a little light on the sauce for the chicken, but what I did get was very nice. The broccoli was uncharacteristically overdone, but the rest of the dish was so good that I had to give them a pass.
Mikey was in the mood for a sammich, so he chose the Turkey Club. He was nice enough to give me a little piece and I thought it was decent. It’s not what I would have picked, but Mikey has always marched to the beat of his own drum. I will say this though, the bacon in the club added both texture and a savory taste that really made the sandwich work. Mike also said that the avocado was fresh and delicious, but the turkey was a little too “lunch meat” for him. He liked the fries too, which are wedge cut, and covered in a nice blend of spices.
Before I tell you about dessert, I just want to give one more endorsement. As you all should know by now, I love fried onion strings. I think they should be considered their own food group or at a minimum given some kind of preferential treatment over all other veggies. The onion strings that BJ’s lays atop the chili cheeseburger are the best I’ve ever encountered. The batter is just the right thickness and contains the perfect blend of spices. To be honest, the actual burger is kind of a letdown when compared to the onion strings. I exaggerate, of course, but only to try to communicate just how much I love eating these magnificent onion strings.
No dinner at BJ’s is complete without trying their signature dessert. It is part pizza and part cookie and aptly named “Pizookie.” You can get one in several different flavors including: chocolate chip, peanut butter, white chocolate macadamia and oreo. Kim recommended that we try the white chocolate/oreo combo with the special oreo whipped cream.
What Kim didn’t know is that I do not particularly care for oreos. The funny thing was that I wasn’t bothered by it in the pizookie. It was actually more like a brownie than an oreo and when teamed up with the white chocolate it blew me away. The oreo whipped cream was a bit too rich, but in small doses it was a nice change of pace. Just a quick word of warning: this thing comes out hot, so if you neglect the vanilla ice cream it will melt and soak into your cookie. For the fans of milk and cookies out there, this might actually be an appealing option for you.
I expect to take a little heat for doing a post on a chain restaurant, but sometimes it just has to be done. Good food is good food and everyone should have the chance to learn about it. The combination of great beer, good food, unique dessert and amazing service is a rare feat in the same restaurant. So when it does happen, as it did last night, you can count on Mikey and I to let you guys know.