Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 18th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

A Harbor Fall

dining_JohnnysThe new fall menu at Johnny’s Harborside offers fresh and comforting fare

I was craving a pleasant, tasty, and leisurely brunch with an exquisite view, so, under a cloudless sky, we headed to Johnny’s Harborside at the small craft harbor. Soft butter melted gently into warm, itty bitty cinnamon-scented muffins which tasted of chocolate with autumn walnuts while we reviewed the new fall menu.

Chef Brian Woods’ new creations include a number of starters such as grilled shrimp cocktail with avocado ($13), grilled romaine salad ($7) with smoked tomatoes and citrus Caesar vinaigrette, warm spinach salad ($9) with bacon vinaigrette, caramelized onions and goat cheese, and vegetarian spring rolls ($7) with sesame vinaigrette.

Since his arrival he has also recreated the accompaniments to “Fresh Catch Your Way.” The new Provençal treatment includes polenta with roasted red pepper cream sauce, capers, and kalamata olives. The southwestern style features sweet potato hash with mango salsa and ancho chili BBQ sauce.

Added to the Signature Selections is Butternut Squash Ravioli ($19) with goat cheese and roasted orange-fennel sauce. Johnny’s also offers an extensive gluten-free menu.

As we enjoyed the bright harbor view on that Saturday morning, diners at a neighboring table were enjoying thick, half-pound bacon burgers: the aroma of their garlic fries wafted tantalizingly to our table. Regular and sweet potato fries are also available, as is a small salad or fruit cup.

A nice array of sides is offered with most breakfast selections including polenta, roasted potatoes, hash browns or fresh fruit and a selection of toast.dining_johnnysn

The Harborside Benedict ($13) still features “Alvaro’s famous” house-made Hollandaise with a hint of Tabasco. On a bed of blanched baby spinach, plump poached eggs perched atop smoky crab cakes in which large pieces of sweet-tasting crab were evident. The hash browns were nicely crisped in flavorful fat.

The day’s fish included steelhead, catfish, seabass and scallops. For the Fresh Catch Salad ($16) I chose Alaskan Salmon. Crisp romaine and mixed greens were dressed lightly with vinaigrette which was slightly sweetened with caramelized shallots and topped with sliced radishes, blackened salmon, and thick cubes of chewy, salty, sautéed pancetta. At this time of year, when days of sunshine and ripe tomatoes are numbered, I savored the perfect crimson cherry tomato-topped cucumber slices that encircled the salad. The salmon was cooked to a soft medium-rare as requested; its blackening rub a tasty mixture of numerous dried herbs without much spicy heat.

Small Bites of house-made dessert ($3) include Crème Brûlée, cheesecake, and chocolate mousse. Some well-behaved boys finished their meals with a scoop of ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce in cylindrical slant-topped porcelain bowls with a mound of whipped cream and a sliced strawberry.

Larger desserts ($8) are just as tempting, with chocolate cake à la mode and seasonal cobbler.

Johnny’s Harborside, 493 Lake Ave., Santa Cruz, 479-3430. Full bar. Open Monday - Thursday 11:30 a.m. until 9 p.m., Friday 11:30 a.m. until 10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. until 10 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. Weekend brunch served from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Visit

Comments (1)Add Comment
written by PMR, November 09, 2011
I can tell that my biggest prob with Johnny's will be deciding what to have!!!

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Growing Hope

Campos Seguros combats sexual assault in the Watsonville farmworker community Farm work was a way of life for Rocio Camargo, who grew up in Watsonville as the daughter of Mexican immigrants. Her parents met while working the fields 30 years ago, and her father went on to run Fuentes Berry Farms.


Cardinal Grand Cross in the Sky

Following Holy Week (passion, death and burial of the Pisces World Teacher) and Easter Sunday (Resurrection Festival), from April 19 to the 23, the long-awaited and discussed Cardinal Cross of Change appears in the sky, composed of Cardinal signs Aries, Libra, Cancer, and Capricorn, with planets (13-14 degrees) Uranus (in Aries), Jupiter (in Cancer), Mars (in Libra) and Pluto (in Capricorn), an actual geometrical square or cross configuration. Cardinal signs mark the seasons of change, initiating new realities.


Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.


Film, Times & Events: Week of April 17

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

Latest Comments


Foodie File: Red Apple Cafe

Breakfast takes center stage at Gracia Krakauer's Red Apple Cafe Before they moved to Aptos, Gracia and her husband Dan Krakauer would visit friends in Santa Cruz County and eat at the Red Apple Café all the time. Then they moved up here from Santa Monica five years ago, and bought the Aptos location (there’s a separate one in Watsonville) from the family who owned it for two decades.


How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management


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


Trout Gulch Vineyards

Cinsault 2012—la grande plage diurne The most popular wines on store shelves are those most generally known and available—Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which are all superb for sure. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Trout Gulch Vineyards’ Cinsault ($18), it opens up a whole new world.