Volcan's carnivore cuisine
Paul Votava has opened Volcan’s newest and most unusual restaurant. To start off 43 year old Paul is not your average kind of guy, his background ranges from being a security guard for such heavy metal bands as the “Dead Kennedy’s” and “TSOL.” to being a fully accomplished tattoo artist, and did I mention his many years of experience in the marine biology field. Many restaurants abuse the term “dining experience” but at Café Polineth, an experience is what you will get along with a some superb tasting Thai food.
The first thing that strikes you as you enter Paul’s restaurant is the 10 foot high by 30 foot long, Volcanic rock wall that is covered with orchids and carnivorous plants. Further plans call for the building of two large aquariums to complement the floral display. There we have Paul’s love of things aquatic. When he was just 7 years old he bought his first fish, a sea horse from a magazine. His passion for things nautical increased to such an extent that his parents finally gave in and bought a pet store.
His other great passion is tattooing. This is obvious because much of his body is covered in multi colored designs – many with a marine connection. He pointed to his first love, sea horses. He explained that when his pets died he had them created in tattoos on his arms, thereby, he reasoned, his friends would always be with him.
Growing up in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, his time was split between working 4 days in a tropical fish exporting company and the remaining 3 days in a tattoo parlor.
Paul worked with the leading figures in the tattoo industry and regularly offered his body as a canvas for their works.
It was while he was working in the tropical fish business that he started cooking. One of his co-workers was Thai, and soon the two of them got into cooking some rather exotic lunches for the work crew.
When Paul and his wife Panamanian wife Olinka came to Volcan they immediately fell in love with the place. They run a different kind of food establishment – for one thing they don’t serve alcohol. No problem if you wanted to bring your own. Paul freely admits he can’t handle drunks, Paul and Olinka want a family run atmosphere, where besides good food you can have a peace and tranquility. Paul has a black belt in “Tang Soo Do”(so don’t even think of running out on you bill).
To try out the food I invited two friends to dine with me. We bought along a couple bottles of wine and sat down to a meal of freshly prepared lemon grass soup and then followed up with a main course of curried chicken. I don’t know what spices Paul uses, but wow, it makes a difference. Here is a restaurant where the food has flavor, finally you can say goodbye to bland and boring.
While the food was being prepared Paul took us on a tour of his botanical garden situated at the rear. Here, he has built elevated swamp trays where he has over one hundred carnivorous plants. He impressed the living daylights out of me by naming each of the plants by its Latin name. In the rear garden he is building a pond and aviary, soon this will be open to tours by school groups. Paul has a passion for all things natural and loves to share his knowledge.
A full three course meal will set you back about $12. But Paul has wisely incorporated a tipico menu with very affordable meals. A hamburger will set you back a modest $1, and a breakfast omelet with 3 eggs and cheese is just $1.50.
A different kind of restaurant with a very charismatic owner. Great ambience, excellent food, and a welcome addition to Volcan. Good food does take time, so please call in advance so he can prepare adequately.