Wicked’s Brew
4561 Market St.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves. Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: All mimsy were the borogoves, and the mome raths outgrabe. “Beware Mrs. Pitts, my son!” cried the chef, but before we knew it, our table had fallen for the infamous “dry tea.”

Mrs. Pitts, the tea mistress

If none of the above makes any sense to you, good. It’s best to leave your notions at the door of Wicked’s Brew in Ventura of what a restaurant is, because stepping into the dining room is similar to falling through a looking glass, where whimsy is served alongside French toast.

Wicked’s Brew opened up right next to Surf Brewery on Market Street in December of 2016, and since has beckoned diners via enticing Instagram posts. Vibrant plates of various entrees almost (almost) play second fiddle to the Tim Burton-esque costume-adorned waiters and cooks. Is that a harpist? Yes it is. Who is Mrs. Pitts? Oh, you’ll see.

On a late Sunday morning, brunch was served. There indeed was a harpist who sat atop a second-floor balcony, harping away. Chandeliers replete with hazy purple jewelry hung from the otherwise industrial ceiling, exposed pipes and cement walls, offering a stark contrast. Immediately, we were greeted by Mrs. Pitts, the orange-haired, Japanese cosplay-dressed hostess, before she disappeared behind the scenes.

Denny’s this is not.

Dry ice in a martini glass — oh, the drama!

We were sat and ordered coffee and an almond milk latte to start and received them both in due time — a little longer wait than we had hoped, but someone had to put dry ice in the giant martini glass filled with purple liquid. Someone made mention that it had become “the witching hour” as fog poured over the rim of the glass and onto the countertop. Various patrons whipped out their whimsical cellphones and snapped pictures.

After the show, our order was taken: seasonal fruit French toast ($10.50), served with mascarpone cheese and fruit, as well as the Farmer’s Market Bowl ($12), a medley of roasted vegetables, quinoa, black beans and a vegan chipotle-lime cream. I also ordered a side of breakfast potatoes because my eyes, not yet adapted to Halloween Town, were hungrier than my stomach.

As our meals were being prepared, Mrs. Pitts arrived. Her tray, loaded with tea cups, dishes and a pot bellowing fog from its spout, cozied up aside our table. We were treated to a show on various styles of tea, both wet and dry, that really made me want more coffee. In the end, she provided us with a wipe to be used to clean a potty mouth (no joke), and then she was off. I could not see if she had whipped out an umbrella and took to the sky, but I imagine that is exactly what happened.

When our food arrived, and when my senses returned to me, I was ready to dive into the meal but noticed that the maple syrup promised on the menu was a no show. I had to approach the martini glass, bubbling away with a new supply of dry ice, and request it from our server.

Finally, we dug in and were thrilled. The food was great. Beyond great, even, but maybe it just tasted better because of the sensory overload. The French toast, topped with strawberries and blackberries, mingled with the mascarpone with just the right amount of sweetness.

Farmer’s Market Bowl with quinoa, avocado, zucchini, red bell pepper and chipotle cream

The Farmer’s Bowl delighted my vegan partner who rarely gets such a filling meal from area restaurants. Topped with a variety of vegetables including zucchini and red bell pepper, the bowl packed a punch from the chipotle cream, and received a solid thumb’s up.

How can I ignore the potatoes, served in an ordinary bowl (no, it didn’t start speaking to me)? They, too, were excellent, perfectly seasoned.

There is a certain audience who would really enjoy the theatrics of Wicked’s Brew, and I imagine that is the majority of people who visit. A combination of being exceedingly hungry and a bit tired, as well as not knowing what to expect, made my visit a little on the odd side, but is that a bad thing? No, it really isn’t, despite wanting as much attention to service as there is to the spectacle.

You don’t go to Wicked’s Brew for an ordinary meal. You go for an experience. It just so happens that the food is as delicious as the setting is unique, a brilliant combination.