Nesting In Ojai
There’s an unfussy modernity about The Nest—a trendy, homey atmosphere that’s bright and breezy and peppered with succulents. Outside, there’s a small herb garden, illustrations by a local artist adorning several walls and communal tables lending themselves to eavesdropping.
Step inside the rustic indoor dining area, and the Western feel and black-and-white photographs are a dead giveaway of the eatery’s predecessor, The Nest of Ojai, shuttered in the 1980s.
The connection is even more obvious in the menu. Co-owner and head chef Kiona Wachter wove in tried-and-true recipes from the former family business. (Wachter also partners with her dad, Eric Wachter, on Beach House Tacos, Beach House Fish and Native Eye on the Ventura Pier.)
“I did an updated twist on the classics, but I tried to keep them fairly similar so that people can have that nostalgia,” she says, bringing up the Tico Salad.
Even the eatery’s brownie is a play on the original Nest’s long-standing recipe. It’s decadent, loaded with chocolate chips and chia seeds, and topped with homemade mocha whipped cream, chopped walnuts and bee pollen. Other recipes, while not plucked from the family recipe book, are very much inspired by the history.
Case in point: The Tireman—tender, melt-in-your-mouth smoked brisket layered with chimichurri and cheese and anchored by two slices of French baguette—is a nod to her uncle, who owns Fred’s Tire Man in Oak View and whose favorite item off the former Nest’s menu was a roast beef sandwich.
Wachter is also quick to note that the kitchen calls on real-deal, sustainable, organic, local ingredients whenever possible. She uses the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s standards for ocean-friendly choices when it comes to fish, and uses produce from the certified organic farm Steel Acres in Meiners Oaks. “I would say 85% of our menu is organic, down to the flours that we use,” she says.
The Wachter Hay & Grain pizza—named after her grandparents’ local feed store, just down the block—boasts thin, crispy crust served with kale-basil pesto, roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds and dollops of ancho-chili cashew cheese and shaved Brussels sprouts. It shows off seasonality and takes full of advantage of the produce the area has to offer.
401 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai