Santa Cruz Good Times

Thursday
Apr 17th
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Raising the Bar

dining_verveInside and out, the bar menu at Verve Lounge sets the standard

lthough the building has housed numerous dark and rustic watering holes, the renovation undertaken by Verve Lounge in Aptos has created a light and lively club. A stage and large dance floor feature music nightly and flavorful bar food quells the appetite.
Large windows now light the decidedly upscale interior where tall tables with black high-backed chairs make perfect conversation spots. The long, shiny bar is lined with soda fountain-style chrome stools with chic red upholstery.
On a Saturday afternoon, owner Deb Schottgen was stocking the bar for the crowd that would later enjoy the music of local band Extra Large. It was happy hour, when well drinks and draft beers are just $3.
The bar menu includes pulled pork or burger sliders, Panini, hot links and wings ($7). From 5 to 8 p.m., larger plates ($7 to $10) include side salads and chips. And recently, crab cakes were added to the Friday menu.
I enjoyed the large serving of Chinese Salad ($4) with flavorful sesame seed oil dressing. Shredded Napa cabbage, tender and crisp, was topped with crunchy fried wonton strips. Two skewers of Chicken Satay were grill-marked by the undulating surface of a Panini press.
On Sundays, NFL games appear on two screens. Deb’s Bloody Mary, made with fresh lime juice and horseradish, was the beverage of choice. The buffet of self-serve iced embellishments included colossal green olives stuffed with fresh garlic, lemons, pickled white onions, and sugar snap peas.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday Brunch ($11) includes a pint of this enjoyable beverage plus breakfast, which on a recent Sunday was either Biscuits and Gravy or a four-item omelet with cheese.
At halftime, I enjoyed the spacious patio which overlooks oak and redwood trees. A flock of Acorn Woodpeckers storing nuts for the winter tended to two tall dead trees, riddled with generations-old circular holes. On cooler days and nights, patrons are warmed by propane heaters around attractive wooden patio furniture, and an elevated fire pit.
During Monday Night Football, enjoy dinner ($11) which includes a draft or well drink. On Nov. 30, fall soup will be served with Panini and salad, while Dec. 7 features BBQ ribs.
Verve Lounge, 7941 Soquel Drive, Aptos, 662-2247. Full bar. Open at 4 p.m. daily, 10 a.m. Sunday. Visit verveloungeaptos.com. ★★★
Photo Credit: Karen Peterson
‘Tis the season when food drives are launched all around the county. From scouts to schools and grocers to small businesses, goals have been set in an attempt to meet this year’s increased demand. The bulk of donations go to Second Harvest Food Bank who acts as a clearinghouse for 180 partner charities.
Look for donation barrels at grocery stores, your place of business and community events, and fill them with canned protein, cereals, pasta, rice and beans. I like to throw in a few snack packs of pudding as well.
Additionally, you can donate cash online, or volunteer to sort food at the warehouse.
Second Harvest Food Bank, 800 Ohlone Parkway, Watsonville, 722-7110. Visit thefoodbank.org
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