We headed over to the harbor to experience the Johnny's Harborside Winter Wednesday Cioppino night. As an e-club member, I also had a coupon for two-for-one starters or salads. While "Fresh Catch Your Way" is still a mainstay of the menu, Chef Scott Delk, who arrived at Johnny's after the closing of Theo's, has added his own touch to the fresh and flavorful presentations.
Although Taco and Tequila nights are Tuesdays and Thursdays and house special margaritas are just $7, the combinations were too unique to ignore.
Served in a large, almost pint-sized glass, the X-Rated Rita ($9) was made with 1800 tequila, X-rated Fusion Liqueur, a blend of French vodka and blood oranges, fresh lime, and sweetened with agave nectar; slightly sweet but still refreshingly tart. The Mango Margarita ($8.50) was fruity fresh.
Tender parsley-dusted Drunken Clams ($14) were bathed in a
garlic and beer broth as a perfect nibbling starter.
The huge Cobb Salad ($12), based on bright green leaves of romaine, supported a perfect fan of creamy avocado, tiny crumbles of blue cheese, bay shrimp, crisp pieces of bacon, chopped hard-boiled eggs and tart ranch dressing.
The Cioppino ($17) will be served as long as its fresh ingredients are available, possibly into March and April. In a rich, spiced seafood tomato broth were stewed tomatoes, firm white fish, pieces of salmon, mussels, clams, and rings of calamari. It was delicious but we were just sad there was no crab.
The Crab-encrusted Salmon ($23) was a visual masterpiece. A salmon fillet was coated with crab pâté and baked, topped with sprouts, and drizzled with flavorfully tart cilantro-lime aioli. It rested upon a bed of bright green sautéed spinach and bits of garlic-herb roasted red potatoes. | KP
Johnny's Harborside, 493 Lake Ave., Santa Cruz, 479-3430. Full bar. Open Monday through Thursday 11:30 a.m to 9:00 p.m., Friday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit johnnysharborside.com/
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