The Crow’s Nest celebrates 40 years of salads, seafood, sunsets, and sociability
A considerable school of small fish broke the water’s surface, dappling it like raindrops and inciting two dozen pelicans to dive-bomb headfirst after them in rapid succession. Sleek pinnipeds joined in the frenzy, their shiny furred bodies leaping, spinning and splashing. This is just one of the many sunset performances staged nightly outside The Crow’s Nest, the popular beachfront restaurant and lounge now celebrating its 40th birthday.
My children, when small, created pet names for their favorite places. There was the Slide Park, the Duck Park, and Red Chinese. This moniker referred not to politics, but to the interior color scheme of King Chwan Chinese Restaurant.
Today, red tassels still hang from the lamps, but the room is light and airy, with sheer white café curtains and softly colored valances on the windows, and elegant blue upholstery.
Artistic presentation complements fresh flavors at My Thai Beach
Prime restaurant real estate on Capitola’s Esplanade affords diners colorful views of the bay, and at My Thai Beach the meals are as pretty as the scenery.
The owners have undertaken a charming remodel of what was previously the Beach House. As if surrounded by ocean, there’s a metallic sheen to the aqua blue walls. A new bamboo bench seat stretches along one side, above which meticulously aligned frames feature photographs and original artwork. On the opposite wall hang portraits of kings and queens. Gilded roughly hewn beams run across the burgundy ceiling from which fans quietly twirl.
Grain, once it's cooked to make the wort that becomes beer, is of no use to the brewmaster. So spent grain from Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing is sent to northern Monterey County, where it helps nourish 100 sheep at Garden Variety Cheese. Three varieties of sheep cheese are then sold at the brewery ($7 for a quarter pound) and also offered with tasting flights of four beers ($7). Local partnerships such as this make SCMB and its organic beers unique.
Be prepared for a time warp, as swivel chairs fixed to a linoleum-tiled floor and upholstered in retro orange vinyl encircle two U-shaped faux wood counters. Vintage advertising posters depict donuts of yesteryear. Even the proprietors seem not to have aged a day since I enjoyed my first apple fritter, and today these pastries are still the same two-fisted size they were two decades ago.
The Seabreeze Cafe continues to fetch fans with its fresh and hearty homemade cuisine
In Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe, an exceptionally tidy eatery, breakfast is served all day. And that’s a good thing. With three-egg omelets ($7.75 to $8.95), you can choose between potatoes or fruit, and toast or a homemade muffin. From the grill comes French toast and plain, bacon, or almond waffles. Throughout the room, children in high chairs decorated coloring book pages with crayons, anticipating a Mickey Mouse Pancake ($2.25).
Gilda’s popular Friday night Cioppino celebrates our local Italian heritage
In a weekly ritual, seafood lovers seek traditional California sustenance. Braving snaking traffic on Municipal Wharf, they anticipate Gilda’s Friday night special Cioppino ($13.95).
A luscious aroma greeted us in Gilda’s foyer. Eyeing the practically packed house we headed to the cocktail lounge. It is fitting to enjoy this meal in a shared setting, after all: California Cioppino was invented as a potluck of sorts, as fishermen contributed their catch to a communal pot.
Although the views are magical at any table, southwestern-facing swivel-chairs look straight out from the bar upon Steamer Lane and the lighthouse. On the walls of the small room hang photos of the Cottardo Stagnaro family and historic hauls of fisherman from times past.