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Microbrewery blends with bistro inspired fare at Ladyface Ale Companie

Posted By Karen Young On March 7, 2010 @ 11:04 pm In Bar/Pub/Taverns,Cuisine,Dinner,Eat,Featured,Food,Lunch,My Daily Find,Restaurants,spotlight | No Comments

BY BOBBI RUBINSTEIN

When I return home from a city with a pub culture, I’m sad that we don’t have something similar. Then Ladyface Ale Companie – Alehouse & Brasserie opened in Agoura Hills and I knew I’d found my hangout.

This neighborhood watering hole is the dream of Cyrena Nouzille, proprietor/general manager, who moved to the community from Los Angeles ten years ago. As a one-time member of the Agoura Hills planning commission, she knew the neighborhood needed a gathering place with a late night menu that wasn’t a club atmosphere.

Moules-Frites (mussels and fries) Photo: Ladyface Ale

The European-style restaurant, seating 100, is a sophisticated mix of cool metals and warm woods. Thick steel pipes are mounted on the ceiling while family-style tables and benches make camaraderie easy. A wall of windows lets in natural light, opening onto the 60-seat patio with a view of the Alehouse’s namesake, Ladyface Mountain. Two wall-mounted televisions are tuned to sports. The blackboard above the bar lists Ladyface-brewed beers, guest beers on tap and bottled beers. Art Nouveau drawings, four stainless steel beer tanks and wrought iron touches complete the bistro style décor.

Beer, particularly Belgian, became Cyrena’s passion when her French-born husband gave her a home brewing kit for her birthday. “I’ve lived in France, so I’m familiar with how everyday people eat and their appreciation for food,” she said. “Beer is to Belgium what wine is France.”

Proprietor/general manager Cyrena Nouzille. Photo: Bobbie Rubinstein

Both Cyrena and David Griffiths, the brewmaster, wanted to create a welcoming atmosphere. “We get a great mix of people: young, old, families,” she said. “One of the greatest short term successes has been creating a local gathering spot for everyone.”

While there’s no true functioning microbrewery within 20 miles in either direction, “people here are knowledgeable,” she said. “They’re looking for something new. I want to educate them and create a local beer culture.”

David Griffiths, the brewmaster, in the Microbrewery. Photo:Ladyface Ale

Bountiful California produce inspires classically French-trained Chef Ray Luna (Patina Group, Spago, Shutters, Pasadena Brewing Co) to source from as many local farms as possible.

“Someone came in the other day selling fresh picked chanterelle mushrooms,” Cyrena said. “Ray made a sautéed side dish, celebrating the ingredient itself.”

French Onion Soup. Photo: Bobbi Rubinstein

The team uses as much beer in the bistro-inspired recipes as possible. Instead of sautéing mussels in white wine, they’ll do it in La Blonde ale.

Sides and starters ($4-$9) include Soups, Mac & Cheese or Steak Tartare with home-made crostini. The French Onion Soup is made with an intense, flavorful vegetarian stock.

Their Pommes Frites, classic Belgian fries, ($5) offer up a mountain of crispy outsides around melting insides. Pick a seasoning – Sea Salt and Pepper, Harissa Spice or Garlic and Herb. Then choose one of six house-made dips – Raioli (Chef Ray’s garlic mayo), Red Ale Roasted Tomato Ketchup, Sweet & Hot, Blue Cheese Fondue, Curry Mustard or Herb Crème Fraîche.

Ladyface is currently brewing La Blonde, Indian Pale Ale, Trois Filles Tripel and Picture City Porter Photo: Ladyface Ale

The Small Plates (Petites Assiettes) ($8-$15), are ample enough for lunch. For dinner, just add a side. Try Moules-Frites (mussels and fries) or the Sausage Plate with Three Mustards and Pretzel Bread. The Coq-à-la-Bière, is an ale-braised Jidori free-range chicken with baby root veggies.

Salads (Les Salades) ($6-$12) include Maytag Blue Cheese and Apple Salad with butter lettuce and whole grain mustard maple dressing sprinkled with roasted pecans.

For dessert (Grandes Bouffes) ($4-$6) choose from such classics as Spice Chocolate Soufflé, Tarte Tatin or the Crème Brulée Du Jour. The Cherry Kriek and Blonde Ale sorbets are custom-made for them by Fosselman’s Ice Cream Co.

The blackboard above the bar lists Ladyface-brewed beers, guest beers on tap and bottled beers. Photo: Ladyface Ale

Then there is the beer. With just four ingredients – water, yeast, hops and barley, it’s the tweaking that creates the variety. Ladyface is currently brewing La Blonde, Indian Pale Ale, Trois Filles Tripel and Picture City Porter.

Dave is always experimenting. Currently he’s researching Scottish ales. “We brew our experimental cask ales in small batches so we can offer something different, Cyrena said.”

Guest ales by the glass are tantalizing. Photo: Bobbi Rubinstein

The names of guest ales by the glass are tantalizing: Port Santa’s Little Helper, Delirium Tremens, and Avery Hog Heaven Barleywine. Or perhaps you’d like a bottle from the cellar – St Feuillien Saison, Malheur Dark Brut or Clos Normande Cider.

Should you want a momentary break from beer, they offer wine and cocktails, many of the liquors selected from family-owned craft distilleries in Oregon and California.

While waiting for your table, peruse and purchase jars of olives or mustards, packet of French lentils, bottles of aged vinegars or fruity olive oils. Many are the same ‘back of the kitchen’ ingredients Chef Ray uses in his dishes.

The European-style restaurant, seating 100, is a sophisticated mix of cool metals and warm woods. Photo: Ladyface Ale

So meet some friends for a pint after work. If they say they ‘aren’t a beer person’, just tell them what Cyrena believes: they just haven’t found the right beer.

Ladyface Ale Companie – Alehouse & Brasserie 29281 Agoura Road Agoura Hills, CA 91301818-477-4566 www.ladyfaceale.com Winter hours are Mon-Fri 2PM to 12AM; Sat & Sun 12PM to 12AM Late PM menu served daily 10PM to close. Become a FaceBook or e-newsletter fan to learn about new beers on tap or holiday dishes like the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day special.

Bobbi Rubinstein is a Valley Girl² – San Fernando and Conejo. She’s an award-winning publicist and writer and believes in shopping, eating and playing locally whenever.

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