Say “vegan restaurant” and watch my husband, Jerry, do a 180 faster than you can say “broccoli pasta bowl.”
But here we are at Sage Plant Based Bistro & Brewery in Agoura Hills (slogan: Feast Without the Beast), considering a menu that features Polenta Tots, Avocado Hash, Zucchini Croquettes and Asian Kelp Noodle Salad.
Most ingredients for menu items come from the restaurant’s 18-acre organic farm in Fillmore, about 30 miles north. Also grown: hops for their beer and ingredients for kombucha.
Floor manager Joaquin Garcia steps in with a suggestion.
“Try the Cauliflower Wings,” he coaches. “It’s one of our most popular items.”
Before Jerry can object, a plate piled high with tempura cauliflower tossed in spicy Buffalo sauce arrives. With some help from me, the vegan “wings” disappear with a mostly-positive review from Jerry.
I give five stars to the fried artichoke hearts and the scrumptious coconut ice cream that tops off our culinary adventure.
Sage’s “share plates” come with huge portions and the menu is extensive. It was one of several restaurants we explored during our 44-hour stay in Conejo Valley (pronounced Co-NAY-ho), which offers visitors lots of open space, hiking and biking trails, a free botanical garden, theaters, shops and eateries.
• The Original Pizza Cookery in Thousand Oaks. On the menu: excellent chicken pesto pasta (gluten-free), a towering antipasto salad, fabulous Fettucine Alfredo, and a wide selection of pizzas (including gluten-free and vegan). Menu nicely marked with these options.
• Jinky’s Café in Thousand Oaks. Extensive menu with a generous number of offerings for vegans and the gluten-free crowd, but plenty for meat-lovers, too. Multiple takes on egg dishes, pancakes, waffles and French toast.
We visited on a busy day; it was the last day of an exhibit on the history of the FBI. When the line through the exhibit came to a standstill, we headed for the Air Force One Pavilion.
Regardless of your politics, it’s pretty impressive to see the enormous Boeing 707 encased in a massive exhibit hall with its 60-foot ceiling and glass wall that showcases the vast valley below and beyond.
The immensity of the customized aircraft is overwhelming, but the experience gets more intimate when you walk through it. Several compartments have jars of gourmet jellybeans, President Reagan’s favorite snack.
The tour also provides insight into how the 40th president and his team operated. For instance, what looks like small laptop computers in the communication center of the plane “are really just fancy typewriters,” explained the docent. “It was the ’80s, after all.”
The plane, on loan from the Air Force, actually served seven presidents from 1973 to 2001.
The pavilion also houses the presidential limousine known as The Beast for its protective capacity; Secret Service vehicles; and a vintage Los Angeles Police Department squad car and motorcycles.
Visitors also can climb aboard Marine One, the Sikorsky VH3A helicopter that transported presidents Johnson, Nixon and Ford on short hops.
Clever displays in the pavilion’s mezzanine tally up the miles that President Reagan flew on the many diplomatic missions to meet with world leaders, and a mural depicts the 22 aircraft that, through the years, carried all US presidents.
The next special exhibit, “The Secrets of World War II,” runs from April 2 to Oct. 9.
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