PICTURED: The Old Mission Fig burger and side salad at Anacapa Brewing Company in Ventura. Photo by Kimberly Rivers

Anacapa Brewing
472 E. Main. St., Ventura
805-643-2337 or www.anacapabrewing.com

The night before the first day of eighth grade, school shopping is not finished and mom needs a recharge before entering the vortex that is the mall. Anacapa Brewing Company is conveniently downtown, no need to drive after work. We sat outside, watching people stroll by on a Tuesday: locals who work downtown or running errands, the conundrum tourists who support our economy but take up parking spots. I must say that if you’re a true local you should always be able to find a free parking spot — but that’s a topic for another section.

First a pint. Warning, I am not a connoisseur of craft beer or a fan of brews that could be described as dark, rich or weighty. Just putting that out there. I am, however, part of the masses of occasional beer drinkers (and I think there are more of us) who do enjoy a refreshing and flavorful pint when the mood calls for it. I ordered a pint of Anacapa’s Hurricane Hefeweizen. It’s apparently a filtered version, as it arrived clear and the color was right for my taste. A solid gulp yielded a smooth, cool, flavor that went down easy. Next time I’ll be adventurous and order a tasting flight of multiple colors.

Now for food. Breweries serve a certain type of fare. But new menu items at Anacapa are proving that pub food can break away from that standard of heavy and fried to deliver something interesting.

For an appetizer I chose the new crispy cauliflower. Well, it’s a lighter option than fried mozzarella, right? It was tasty, if a tad pricey, at $11.99. Try the Korean Street Style sauce to take it up a notch.

In today’s world of pressure to save the world (or just the cows) by going vegan, I’m a holdout that blames my husband and son for my inability to give up beef. I love a good burger. The title of “Old Mission Fig” for the burger grabbed my attention. A hearty half-pound patty, bacon (the vegans are cringing), fig marmalade and blue cheese crumbles. Hello gorgeous! That’s my kind of burger. It also had fresh greens and tomatoes.

Sometimes with so many toppings a burger can be overdone and I was prepared to be ruthless. But the flavors and quantities of crumbles and fig gave the burger enough gourmet goodness to raise it from the ranks of normal, humdrum pub food.

Let’s talk buns — bread, that is. I’m a fan of bread, but not when it’s just gratuitous and clumpy carbs. A burger bun is not a character in a Tarantino flick and should not be overkill. This bun was light and airy, a perfect package; it makes the cut.

The salmon club sandwich satisfied the husband contingent with a hearty piece of salmon superbly grilled (meaning it was not dried out) with a tangy and modest glaze.

Most importantly, the teen taste buds and appetite approved of the fish tacos. He chose grilled over fried and added avocado. The two tacos came on flour tortillas, lightly toasted for a bit of crisp, with beautiful pieces of fish, again expertly grilled. It was all topped with cabbage and a generous slice of avocado, and pico de gallo on the side. A meal with no complaints is a mom’s salvation.

And so the family was well nourished and ready to brave the mall.