Peachwood's arranges happy marriages between local produce, Kansas City beef and Omaha pork
On Sunday mornings at brunch you may find David Smith, chef-proprietor of Peachwood's Steakhouse, manning the carving station dressed regally in whites and a tall, pleated toque. Once a Midwest college chemistry professor, Smith owned a Kansas City-style steakhouse and in 1991 brought his recipes and relationships with family ranchers to Santa Cruz.
Celebrating 21 years, there is more to Peachwood's than Sunday brunch. Of course it's an idyllic location for weddings, and dinner entrées are served lavishly as multi-course meals which include soup and salad, locally grown vegetables with choice of starch, plus a couple of elegant surprises.
Appetizers ($9) include traditional escargots, sautéed calamari, and grilled scallops. Dinner-sized salads ($13 to $15) feature an Italian combination of beans, mozzarella, salami and pepperoncini, and a chopped salad of smoked chicken, blue cheese, bacon and avocado.
Seafood choices range from fresh catch of the day, to salmon and Ahi tuna.
Peachwood's tender baby back ribs hail from Omaha, Neb., and are smoked slowly over peach wood for eight hours. They serve a 22-ounce porterhouse, a filet, and rib eye steak, as well as pork tenderloin, and New Zealand lamb.
With such a tempting menu to review, we relaxed with a couple of Peachwood's specialty martinis. A tender wedge of canned peach embellished the refreshing Peach Pit Martini ($8) made with peach-flavored vodka and Schnapps. An old-school stainless steel shaker held an icy second serving. The vodka-based Appletini ($8) with tart, smoky apple liqueur was served with a perfect cherry.
The lounge next door was busy and cheerful on this finally-a-Friday evening. A special event in the brunch area was hardly noticeable from the dining room with sliding doors and curtains efficiently muffling the noise. We instead enjoyed the sound of chimes from the numerous beautiful clocks. One featured do-re-mi and dancing Von Trapp children, another, a familiar Disney song. Whimsical framed drawings featuring chefs helped create a homey atmosphere in the neat and comfortable room, as did the numerous friendly servers that attended to our table.
The appetizer, a large Grilled Pasilla ($9) with blackened skin, like a naked chile relleno, oozed melted Jack cheese into the creamy and slightly piquant red bell pepper cream sauce, which was so delectable we wiped the plate clean with pieces of warm, crusty bread.
Just before the soup arrived, we quickly devoured the peach fritters; crisply fried balls of sweet, airy dough, sprinkled with powdered sugar. In the dark broth of the soup floated strips of sweet Walla Walla onions.
The small mixed greens salad arrived with three types of dressings to choose from. I had upgraded to a sizeable Iceberg Wedge ($3.50) with black olives, crumbled blue cheese and shredded carrot. I liked both the chunky blue cheese and pickle-riddled Thousand Island dressings with the fresh crunchy lettuce.
Just prior to the entrance of the entrées, palate-cleansing dollops of strawberry sherbet were served in tiny torch-shaped cones.
Peachwood's midwestern steaks are aged 21 days and cooked over mildly flavored peach wood, which is abundant in California. The Heart of America Kansas City Strip ($26) was tender, a perfect medium-rare and served with creamy garlic mashed potatoes and a medley of bright al dente vegetables.
The Buffalo Platter ($30) was served on a cast iron fajita-type skillet. The grill-marked bison top sirloin steak was well-seasoned and juicy with vinegar-based BBQ sauce on the side. The plump baked potato was dressed at the table with sour cream and green onions. The platter also included vegetables and black beans.
The house-made desserts are irresistible. Steaming caramel sauce puddled around warm, homey, Peach Bread Pudding ($7) which was topped with whipped cream and served with slices of tart green apple.
A spider web of raspberry and chocolate syrups decorated the plate of the elegant airy cheesecake ($7) which was topped with whipped cream.
Peachwood's is open for business 365 days each year. The limited menu for Christmas Eve includes appetizers ($9) of artichoke cakes and cashew chicken egg rolls, and entrées with soup and salad which range from a half lamb rack ($28.95), shrimp or ahi Caesar salad ($16.50), layered Crown Salmon ($24.95) and grilled vegetables layered onto garlic mashed potatoes ($24.95).
Peachwood's serves a traditional family dinner ($34) on Christmas Day which includes corn chowder, Caesar salad, and main courses such as sage roasted turkey, wild flower honey glazed ham, and grilled Atlantic salmon. Dessert choices (included) will be Pumpkin or Pecan Pie, and Cranberry Cheesecake.
If you'd rather be home for the holidays, Peachwood's heat-and-serve dinners leave you more time with your company. The Thanksgiving feast featured roast turkey, corn chowder, potatoes and gravy, salad, vegetables, rolls, and a pie ($100 for 4 people or $60 for two). Call for an Internet order form, or to place a phone order.
Peachwood's at the Inn at Pasatiempo, 555 Highway 17, Santa Cruz, 426-6333. Full bar. Serving lunch from 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., dinner: 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. (Monday – Saturday), 5:00 p.m. – 9 p.m. (Sunday), Lounge: 2:00 p.m. – 10 p.m. (Monday – Friday), 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 a.m. (Saturday - Sunday), and Sunday Brunch: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Visit peachwoods.com
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