There is no shortage of gastropubs in LA and OC. It seems every other new restaurant cropping up these days is a gastropub, however, in Calabasas, where reality stars and reality shows are aplenty, there are no gastropubs — or progressive restaurants really — that is worth your while…. until now.
Industry Bar & Grill has secured Hinoki + The Bird alum, Chef Johnson Salamon to oversee its kitchen, and he is introducing this concept to Ventura County. One might think gastropubs are foreign when you speak to locals, as most are having a slightly difficult time grasping the concept of this hipster culture which has taken over the dining scene for the last five years in big(ger) cities.
Industry Bar & Grill is not visible from the freeway. It’s really quite hidden. You have to know it’s here, or be looking for it, to find it. But once inside, you’ll find an impressive array of craft beers on tap, as well as a few on nitro. The menu is solid gastropub fare comprising selections most of us are well familiar with.
I’ve been out here several times, with friends who live up this way mostly. I love the array of craft beers and especially the darks, so my flight ($15) includes Belching Beaver’s Peanut Butter Milk Stout, and Camp Fire Stout from northern California’s High Water Brewing.
The Spinach and Artichoke Toast ($8) is delicious, and I’ve had it twice. A house-created spinach and artichoke dip with parmesan is not overly salty like commercial versions. I love its rich creamy texture but it’s not the least bit glucky. I like taking bites of this in between sips of the beers.
Moving on, Roasted Cauliflower ($8) with mint, chile flakes, lime, garlic, and pine nuts is another dish I enjoy. It is perhaps one of the best cauliflower offerings I’ve experienced in and around southern California. Squeeze the thick lemon slice over the dish to enhance the natural flavors of the cauliflower. The pine nuts add another element of texture and piquancy to the dish.
As everyone knows, I am not able to resist corn in any format and Grilled Corn ($5), or Mexican elote, is as good as it comes. The corn-on-the-cob is presented as a lollipop topped with garlic aioli, cotija cheese, parsley, and a sprinkle of cayenne. It is addicting and it is difficult to resist devouring an entire order on my own.
If you love bacon, definitely don’t miss out on House Bacon ($10) cured pork belly smoked in Industry rub. It is decadent, and oh so addicting. I love the house pickled vegetables which cuts the richness in between bites.
I find the best things to pair with beer is hearty nibbly foods and there’s a good selection at Industry. Sweet Potato Fries ($5) is a mix of sweet and salty with parmesan, parsley and a hint of truffle oil.
I am very finicky about onion rings and always order them just to see if they stand up to my expectations. Beer Battered Onion Rings ($5) definitely do! They are tender on the inside – none of that take a bite and the whole onion comes off the coating business – and very crunchy on the outside.
The main staple of the day here are the burgers. I try the Industry Burger ($14) on my first visit — chef’s take on the classic cheeseburger, a standard burger with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, ketchup and mustard. No surprises here… it’s a good solid burger.
On my second visit, we decide to indulge in Jalapeno Burger ($15) topped with pepper Jack cheese and a crispy fried whole jalapeno. I really like the jalapeno, but it is difficult to eat whole. Perhaps by slicing the jalapenos will provide a more even mouth feel when eating. The quality of the beef patty is top notch, which is the reason you want to eat a burger in the first place.
Vegetarians are not overlooked here. Grilled Mushroom Sandwich ($16) is packed with shiitake mushrooms and delectable crispy shallots for both crunch and flavor. The soy agave glaze brings a hint of savory sweetness to the sandwich. We do not miss the meat at all while eating this as there is enough body to hold up the sandwich.
If you are out in Ventura County and stuck looking for something to eat, Industry will satiate those hunger pangs. It is no nonsense comfort food that’s simple, but pleasing. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite, or planning to linger around for a few beers, Industry is a respite, an oasis in the middle of a culinary desert.
Industry Bar & Grill
26787 Agoura Rd
Calabasas, CA 91302