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Oct 02nd
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Dining

Restaurant dining and wine reviews for Santa Cruz County >
Menu Guide for Santa Cruz area.

Wine Reviews

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s Vineyard

Pinot Noir 2009


Ever since Café Rio opened its doors recently – with brand new owners at the helm – this lovely ocean-view restaurant has done extraordinarily well. Restaurant news spreads quickly in the Santa Cruz area, and the word is that Café Rio has regained its reputation of old and is serving up some excellent food, including their famous and much-loved sand dabs.

Dying to check the new vibe, I finally get there with a friend for a light dinner from the bar menu  – knowing ahead of time that I would order of one of my favorites – seared ahi tuna. We also order some delicious smoked salmon and tender deep-fried calamari.

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Dining Reviews

Nest Eggs

Nest Eggs

Crow’s Nest launches daily breakfast

Stand-up paddle boarders, scullers, kayakers and a back-pedaling otter floated down the channel followed by Team O'Neill with a boat load of school children. Two sets of twin toddlers pranced happily in the sand while a runner and dog-walker made their way down the levee toward the lighthouse. It is the familiar view from the comfortable Crow's Nest, and now it's available at breakfast.

With all those healthy people exercising outside, I assuaged my guilt with a reminder that breakfast is the most important meal, and, coincidentally, that's the way it was treated by the Crow's Nest kitchen.

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Dining Reviews

Bread as Art

Bread as Art

From the ceiling of the little market and bakery hang piñatas of all shapes and sizes, but the bakery cases were practically empty at nine in the morning. We were quickly greeted by co-owner Jorge Hernandez who sent us into the kitchen where we selected eight just-baked pastries ($10.60) from the six-foot tall racks of colorful, sweet and savory breads in multitudinous shapes and sizes.

Although El Rosal has a huge selection, Hernandez said his bakery makes far fewer than the 500 or more varieties in Mexico's repertoire.

The Spaniards first brought wheat to the New World, and for a short time in the 1860s the French brought expert pâtissiers. Hernandez says that each of the Mayan tribes in the south and the Aztecs farther north added their own touch to these foreign influences, creating the wonderful diversity.

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Wine Reviews

Beauregard Vineyards

Beauregard VineyardsThe Lost Weekend–2009 California Red Blend

At Gourmet Grazing on the Green last month—the cancer benefit held annually in Aptos Village Park—one of the wineries pouring was Beauregard Vineyards. Ryan Beauregard and his wife Rachel are always ready to donate to the community, and they had brought along a selection of their fine wines that day.
One of their wines that caught my interest was a snappy little California red blend called The Lost Weekend—which could come true if one should happen to imbibe too much!
Very reasonably priced at $18, this new release of The Lost Weekend STB (Super Tuscan-style Blend) 2009 is a blend of 80 percent Sangiovese, 16 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 4 percent Durif—and inspired by Beauregard’s admiration for the wines from Northern Italy.
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Dining Reviews

Clean Slate

Clean Slate

Hoffman’s hands reigns over to Food Network for an extreme makeover

There was suspense and drama, frustration and anticipation, showmanship and emotion. Like Roger Craig at Albertson’s, Lance Armstrong on Beach Street, and James Durbin at Loudon Nelson, this was a Santa Cruz moment. Food Network was in town.

When I read about the filming of Restaurant Impossible at Hoffman’s, I called for reservations along with every other self-professed foodie in town. Upwards of fifty redials and no luck. I felt like the Queen of Sheba on Monday when an associate said there was a seat for me.

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Wine Reviews

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Cabernet Sauvignon 2009


Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine is a casual, inexpensive dining spot in Aptos with a focus on Persian and Mediterranean food. It’s an ideal restaurant for seven women friends to have dinner where we can share a good laugh, and not-so-subdued conversation. And food is ordered over the counter so each can pay his own bill.

Zameen owner, Ed Watson, carries a few local wines, but plans to eventually stock a whole lot more. I order a bottle of Francis Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($21)—part of the Diamond Collection – with fruit from various California vineyards. A hearty Cab is just what’s needed to go with robust foods such as falafel, lamb wraps, Mediterranean meatballs and spiced chicken kebab.

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Dining Reviews

Continuity of Community

Continuity of CommunityFrom snacks to hearty dinners and bocci ball to nightly live music, Bocci's Cellar remains an important gathering place

In the first decade of the 17th century, Mission Church planted vineyards in the area of Harvey West Park, ostensibly the first local viticulture. A few Victorian homes built a century later still stand nearby. Angelo Peter Urbani was born in one of these on Encinal Street to Italian immigrants. The family elevated their home to create a cellar underneath in which to age barrels of wine. Of Angelo's sons, Joseph is immortalized on a plaque outside of Bocci's Cellar for adding the bar and dining room that transformed the home into a gathering place for the Italian community.
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Dining Reviews

PIZZA @ burger.

PIZZA @ burger.

Some things just go together; Rum and coke, peanuts and Crackerjacks, pizza and beer. Which brings me to Mission Street's burger., where almost 50 draft beers are joined by even more bottled selections. All those beers, just begging for pizza. And burger. heard their cries.

The new offerings are wood-fired with dough and sauces made daily. The pizzas I enjoyed each had thin, cracker-crisp crusts, a seared edge here and there, and a hint of flavorful cheese.

We ordered burgers and pizzas at the counter, and beers at the bar. The burgers arrived quickly. French fries were dipped in ketchup, sweet potato fries in a vinegared Thousand Island-style tartar sauce. As my compadres took the final bites of their juicy sandwiches, making use of the abundant napkins, the first pizza arrived.

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Wine Reviews

Odonata Wines

Odonata Wines

River Skimmer 2010 and Garden Variety Cheese

Rebecca King is a professional chef, farmer, cheese maker and shepherdess. As we arrive at King’s Monkey Flower Ranch in Royal Oaks, Calif. last month for an open house, her flock of about 100 sheep are busy grazing, and barely look up to greet us. One solitary black goat catches my eye—standing alone in the middle of a flock of his white and woolly ovine friends.

We start by sampling some of King’s fine cheeses, then taking a tour of the property—which includes the milking area and cheese-making facility—before heading to the picnic table for lunch.

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Dining Reviews

Dynamic Dining

Dynamic Dining

With an ever-changing menu, it's like a new restaurant at every visit to Main Street Garden Cafe


I find it impossible to get bored with Main Street Garden Cafe. Under the leadership of Chef Brad Briske, previously of San Francisco's Millennium and Gabriella Cafe in Santa Cruz, the menu incorporates pasture-raised meats, sustainable fish, house-made pasta, local wines, and local organic produce, some from the restaurant's own garden, and including eggs. It changes weekly to celebrate seasonal specialties which recently included tomatoes, watermelon, summer squash, shelling beans and Padrón peppers.

A parade of local artists display their craft on the walls and local musicians perform regularly on the restaurant's spacious patio.

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On the Waterfront

As the wharf celebrates its centennial, a personal reflection on its essential place in Santa Cruz’s history

 

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, occurs this year during Libra, the sign of creating right relations with all aspects life and with earth’s kingdoms. We contemplate (the Libra meditation) forgiveness, which means, “to give for another.” Forgiveness is not pardon. It’s a sacrifice (fire in the heart, giving from the heart). Forgiveness is giving up for the good of the other. This is the law of evolution (the path of return).

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of September 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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New Capitola bakery takes gluten-free goods to the next level

 

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Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Apricot Wine for Dessert

Thomas Kruse Winery, a participant in the new Santa Clara Wine Trail, has been around for a long time—since 1971, to be exact. When our little group arrived to try some wine at the Kruses’ low-key tasting room, Thomas Kruse and his wife Karen were there to greet us. Theirs is a small operation, and they’re proud to offer quality wine at affordable prices. “Because we are small and low-tech, it’s easy to relate to the whole winemaking process,” says Karen—and the Kruses take pride in making wine “just like it has been made for centuries.”