It's interesting how the scent of morning coffee can transform the ambiance of a popular seafood restaurant into that of a cozy coffee shop. This was my experience last week as we sampled the new weekend breakfast at Stagnaro's on the wharf.
The Marine Mary ($8) was a sight to behold. A pint glass of Bloody Mary was decoratively embellished with a skewered pair of prawns and two pimiento-stuffed green olives. Two red straws were cradled in the channel of crisp celery, and a large wedge of bright-skinned lime hugged the rim. I tasted both Tabasco and a hint of horseradish in this Sunday-perfect eye-opener.
A light bank of fog shrouded the wharf, but as we sipped, the Dream Inn materialized on the shore and Mark Abbott Lighthouse came into focus.
Numerous Benedicts are available including a traditional version ($10.95), smoked salmon ($12.95) and Florentine ($10.95) with spinach, tomato and red onion. Crab Cakes Benedict ($13.95) were generously covered with lightly warmed, creamy Hollandaise. The pair of thick and wonderfully seasoned crab cakes contained capers and shreds of crab held together with a thick, bready binder. On top were eggs with softly cooked translucent yellow yolks.
Omelets include shrimp with green chilies and Greek ($9.95) with red onions, pieces of sharp feta cheese, bits of spinach and loaded with cubes of salty Italian bacon and tender artichoke hearts. I would have added some tomatoes and additional spinach to liven up the pale gray-green color of the hearts. Both breakfasts were served with a freshly sliced circle of sweet orange and pyramids of crisp-skinned homefries, tender and delicately seasoned.
Stagnaro Bros. Restaurant, Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz, 423-2180. Full Bar. Serving breakfast Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and lunch and dinner daily from 11 a.m. Visit stagnarobros.com.
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