Night School Is In Session – Introduction to Brown Spirits at PS 805

Now that Halloween is done, it’s time to get acquainted with spirits of a different kind.

whiskey class
I’ve been to PS 805 twice now, once for their opening and once for a casual dining and drinking experience with several friends. Both times the food was excellent. I fondly remember the drinks, too. My favorite part of both evenings, though, was the atmosphere at the restaurant. The interior dining room, the bar tables, and the covered outdoor area are all abuzz with conversation and energy during the dinner and late-dinner hours. What better place to learn more about cocktails and how to make them?
Next week, for a pretty low price, cozy up to the bar with 9 of your new best friends for “Introduction to Brown Spirits – A Drinking & Eating Class.”

– A Brief History of Brown Spirits with Public School Mixologist Colin Kerr

– Four Classic Cocktails illustrating the differences in Brown Spirits

– Four Seasonal Chef Bite Creations, incorporating whiskey in each dish and created by Head Chef Nathan Heartman

– 10 Seats Only

– Nightly at 6pm Monday, November 18th – Wednesday, November 20th

– By reservation only, $25 per person.

– Call to make a reservation early: (805) 379-3909

Since there are only 10 seats for each of the 3 sessions, you should probably get on this right now.

School’s Out, But Public School 805 Is in Session (CLOSED)

UPDATE: This business has closed. Sad. They made really good gin and tonics.


Night school

Tucked away in an overlooked corner of the Westlake Promenade shopping center at Westlake and Thousand Oaks Boulevards is the new restaurant Public School 805, or PS805. It opened this week hoping people will get wind of its existence. Luckily for me, I got an email about it, so I went to the media preview, took my seat, and got my lesson.

The interior of PS 105 is resplendent with construction materials like wood and steel, props that support its theme including a small wall made of bleachers and a larger wall festooned with lacquered vintage catcher’s mitts. The space is open and utilitarian with a large window into the kitchen, industrial light fixtures, and austere tabletops. There are plenty of nooks but only one large table for big groups. Marketing director Karen Sabourin told me that there is a space for larger parties behind The Grill next door; maybe they’ll borrow it in the future.

Wall o'bleachers

Wall o’bleachers

For your small lunch or dinner group, though, it’s fun to enter PS 805 and see the school-themed elements. A basket of shiny red apples on the hostess stand. The menus that look like composition notebooks, noting a “study group”course (to split with friends) and “recess” (happy hour) which happens Monday through Friday 4-7pm, featuring $4 drinks and appetizers from $4 to $6 in the bar. Coming soon? “The Breakfast Club.”


photo by Lexi Roehner

The bar, naturally, has its own mixologist who delighted me with a drink called the “Juice Box.” I had invented a similar beverage years ago out of sheer necessity – it consisted of Juicy Juice and vodka. This libation, however, was a sublime mix of golden rum, apricot marmalade, and vanilla bitters, garnished with a dried apricot. My friend Lexi tried the Agua Fresca, a surprisingly tasty watermelon martini, straight up.


Food on the menu at this event included a starter to share, a dinner entree, and a surprise dessert – chef’s choice. As we sampled our charcuterie tray (“The Cutting Board,” with the sweetest carmelized onions I’ve ever tasted), we saw desserts being carried out to earlier diners. Which one would we get?


Prosciutto, fig jam, Marconi almonds, etc.

For dinner, I had the jidori brick chicken and white bean ragout, and Lexi had the Tuscan chopped salad, made with kale. The chicken was a tender juicy organic dish, skin on, just the right crispiness. Although it was only offered with the lamb burger which I did not order, the chef brought out some “brown bag fries” for us to sample. After all, one cannot judge a restaurant’s mettle without tasting its French fries. These were served in a cut off brown bag, true to their name, with honey mustard sauce and sriracha ketchup on the side. They were tasty, but not the number one reason I would recommend PS805.


The number one reason I would recommend trying PS805? It’s cute. The nostalgic food theme, the business’s support of local schools (on the night of this media dinner, drinks were on a cash bar basis, with all proceeds to benefit The Conejo Schools Foundation, a group that seems similar to Las Virgenes’ THE Foundation), the decor and menu, even the feedback card presented at the end of the meal, labeled “report card” and asking the diner to grade the business on different areas of service, all create an experience that at the very least gives you something to talk about. I would dine there again, simply to taste more of the drinks (and possibly sample one of the 40 beers) and try a few different foods. Our dessert was a cute presentation of PS805’s take on the PB&J: two large peanut butter cookies each with a dollop of sweet jam in the centers, served with a cold glass of milk. Just one. For dipping.