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Aug 23rd
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Dining

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

Wine Reviews

Odonata Wines

Odonata Wines

Chardonnay 2008

Denis Hoey, winemaker and owner of Odonata, is having no trouble at all in selling his wines. Talking with him about his recent release of Rose, I had set my sights on getting a bottle, but he emailed me to say he had sold the whole lot. I’ll have to wait now until his next release. Ever since he opened up in the Surf City Vintners complex on Ingalls Street on the Westside of Santa Cruz, he has been very successful with his intriguing wines.

The 2008 Chardonnay, Peter Martin Ray Vineyard ($24), is full of crisp minerality with aromas of stone fruits and pear. It’s just a beautiful wine—with grapes coming from a very historic vineyard high in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

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Dining Reviews

Thai for Two

Thai for Two

The bright colors of lightly cooked vegetables sparkle in Sawasdee's uniquely flavored dishes

We occasionally visit Soquel on our errands day. It's either the dentist, stylist or CPA that brings us into the town, and even though my husband and I differ wildly on Scoville index tolerance levels, Sawasdee Thai Cuisine's huge menu satisfies us both.

Sawasdee's home is bright and cheerful, with lavender, white and paprika walls and an occasional fanciful carving. Gilded pottery lined the counter, which was busy with take-out orders, and colorful woven runners gleamed from under glass tabletops.

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Dining Reviews

Afternoon Delight

Afternoon Delight

Outside it was gray and drizzly, but to enter Cafe Sparrow at lunchtime was like stepping into spring in Provence. Pastel sponge-painted chairs surrounded tables draped with colorful cloths and lace, protected with glass tops and paper doily placemats.

Sourdough bread with chewy crusts and soft centers was served with fresh butter. The Iced Tea ($3.50) was playfully flavored with black currants.

Two crisply browned Crab Cakes ($11.50), soft and moist in the middles, lusciously fell apart. The delicate crab flavor peeked out between tiny bits of red pepper.

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Wine Reviews

Folie à Deux Winery

Folie à Deux Winery

Menage à Trois 2008

How very clever of the marketing team at Folie à Deux Winery in Oakville to come up with the saucy name of Menage à Trois for their range of blends of three different wines. With its naughty connotations, Menage à Trois is an easy name to remember. Whoever came up with this name deserves free wine for the rest of his life.

The Folie à Deux California Red seemed like an appropriate wine to drink at a very sensuous evening of belly dancing—a show I went to with a couple of friends recently at Don Quixote’s International Music Hall in Felton.

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Dining Reviews

And Betty Makes Three

And Betty Makes Three

Betty Burgers Eat Inn on Pacific storms out of the gate with dynamite menu additions and a full bar

When Betty Burgers' sister restaurant Vida left town, Betty moved right in to the space on Pacific Avenue, leaving her shiny old Airstream trailer right on the new patio. Fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits and mashed potatoes with gravy are just a taste of the down-home-style comfort food that Betty's slingin' at her new Eat Inn.

The restaurant was packed on opening weekend, and a week later during a mid-week late lunch it was almost at capacity. The smiling, energetic staff was still learning the ropes – there was no service on the patio for ten minutes and then we were double-covered. A few days later, service was perfect on a very busy dinner shift.

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Dining Reviews

Asada Muy Bueno

Asada Muy Bueno

A taco bar named Leo's sounds less than authentic but it was co-founded by Leonel Espinoza and Maria E. Valencia whose names are associated with La Mission and Cafe el Palomar. The kitchen is larger than the restaurant in this Live Oak establishment, and what it creates is remarkable.

A charbroiled salmon taco ($4) was so loaded with chunks of fish I ate half of it with a fork before I could pick it up. It was topped with fire-roasted salsa, cabbage, cilantro and tomatoes. The Carne Asada Taco ($2.25) was just as large. The pieces of steak were tender, smoky and charred as if barbecued in the traditional manner.

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Wine Reviews

Skov Winery

Skov Winery

Zinfandel 2008


Annette and David Hunt, who used to own Roudon-Smith Winery, have made a sweeping change and formed a new venture by opening up Skov Winery. Fortunately, they are still in the same bucolic spot down Bean Creek Road in Scotts Valley, and have the same expert winemaker Brandon Armitage. And judging from the impressive turnout at their grand opening last month, it looks like they are off to a cracking start.

Skov, which means “forest” in Danish, reflects on the Danish heritage of Annette, but it’s also a very appropriate name for their winery as it’s located smack in the middle of a dense population of mighty redwoods.

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Dining Reviews

Fresh Start

Fresh Start

New menu and seating sets the stage for fun at Coldwater Bar and Grill

The Coldwater Bar and Grill has replaced Hawg's Seafood, and although the ownership hasn't changed, the restaurant's interior and menu are substantially different.

Most of the booths have been replaced by tall, freestanding tables attaining a networking, neighborly ambiance. Eight booths remain for the benefit of people with little ones, those who'd like a more secluded, romantic experience, or me, to clandestinely take notes and snap photos. The front patio now holds a pingpong table, and with five flat screen televisions Coldwater is the local baseball clubhouse.

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Dining Reviews

Cake from cheese, fancy that!

Cake from cheese, fancy that!

When my mom once ordered cheesecake, all I knew about cheese was that it was hard and orange. At 5 years-old I didn't know the word oxymoron, but I knew at that moment what it felt like. At that age I expected sugary desserts and didn't come to appreciate the sour tang of her creamy indulgence for many years.

Learning that Cherry Cheesecake day is celebrated this month when the cherry trees are blooming, I remembered my first cherry cheesecake with canned pie filling, and it made perfect sense.

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Wine Reviews

Sarah’s Vineyard

Sarah’s VineyardChardonnay 2009

At $10 a person, Wine Wednesdays at Seascape has got to be one of the best deals in town. Not only do you get to taste a flight of three or four different wines from a featured winery, but also you get a serving of delicious tapas-style food.  I went with a couple of friends on the evening that Sarah’s Vineyard was pouring—one of my favorite wineries in the area. I vividly remember the first time I tasted Sarah’s Vineyard Chardonnay—at a food and wine event in Los Gatos several years ago—and it knocked my socks off. One should never underestimate the seductive power of a fabulous Chardonnay.
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Trending Now

Whether you live by the Vogue bible or choose to go into your day wearing what you slept in, odds are you wear clothes.

 

Entering Virgo

Sun entering Virgo brings a sign and element change, from Leo’s fire to Virgo’s practical earth. Food, health, grains, service and small animals are in the news and on our minds. It’s one month till autumn. Pumpkins and persimmons are ripening. Venus is in Leo. We radiate warmth; we’re generous, playful and affectionate. Everyone shows off in an ardent, passionate, warm-hearted, romantic and over-dramatic way, reflecting Leo’s fiery nature. Think of life as Shakespeare wrote: life is a play, we are its actors on the same stage together.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of August 22

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
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Locavores Only

Farm dinners at Route 1 Farms and the Homeless Garden Project expand the revolution

 

How should Santa Cruz develop downtown around the San Lorenzo River?

Santa Cruz | Artist/Show Promoter

 

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

 

Clowning Around With Armitage Chardonnay

Four of us headed to Brandon Armitage’s new tasting room in Aptos Village recently to try his well-made wines.