Santa Cruz Good Times

Apr 21st
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Little House on Main Street

dining_MainStreetGardenMain Street Garden Cafe offers an array of fresh and organic fare for carnivores and vegetarians alike | by Karen Petersen

The dining room looks bigger in daylight, and as Main Street Garden Cafe serves brunch and dinner in the charming home that once housed Theo's Restaurant, the owners have big shoes to fill.

Light from a French door and numerous windows bounce off the glass-topped tables and shiny hardwood floors. Colorful lilies in stainless steel vases adorned each table. Comfortable armed captains chairs were upholstered in muted tan and teal.

The brunch menu includes homemade granola, Belgian waffles, salads, panini, pizza, lasagna, eggplant parmesan and pasta.

We walked around to the backyard, where a mesh-covered eating area dotted with propane heaters looks out over a healthy green lawn to the large herb and vegetable garden beyond. Co-owner Evan Borthwick (proprietor of Felton's Redwood Pizzeria) was tending to pizzas in the outdoor wood-fired oven.

The dizzying aroma of garlic wafted from my own 11-inch Marguerite Pizza ($12.95). It was prepared in the more traditional Italian manner, with a light coating of thick house-made organic herbed tomato sauce and organic mozzarella with diced tomatoes. Dried herbs and a chiffonade with fresh basil were added before serving. The underside of the thin organic crust was perfectly and even the thicker rim was enjoyably crisp.

The server offered to pick a lemon from the tree out back to add to my iced tea. It was a refreshing accompaniment to the Ham and Havarti Panini ($9.95), served with fresh Happy Boy Farms greens, which were dressed in light sweet-tart balsamic vinaigrette. In between slices of toasted wheat bread, salty ham was covered with mild melted cheese and caramelized onions.

Main Street Garden is proving to be a popular dinner destination as well, for friends, couples and families. For our bulbous crystal glasses, we chose a Hallcrest Organic Zinfandel ($9), soft with lovely berry tones, and a spicy syrah from Ahlgren ($7). Soft baked garlic in peppery olive oil arrived with the crusty bread.

A square white plate held fresh baby spinach greens with strips of baby carrot, sliced tomatoes and mushrooms. The side of tahini dressing (ground, toasted sesame seeds) was thick, tart and nutty.

The Redwood Pizza ($13.95) featured thin, spicy rounds of pepperoni, garlic and Parmesan cheese.

A small casserole held three slices of Eggplant Parmesan ($11.95) with a plump, sweet Italian Sausage ($2.50). Crisp red onions were layered between the soft eggplant, which surprisingly (and fortunately) was not breaded and fried. Under the sheet of bubbling mozzarella, thick tomato sauce with whole herbs gave it substantial flavor.

For dessert, the wedge of fudge-like Chocolate Flourless Cake ($5.95), rested on a bed of stewed strawberries, which added an intense fresh berry flavor.

For a relaxing and crisply fresh meal, I'll head back to Main Street Garden, and look forward to sampling the upcoming menu additions.

Main Street Garden Cafe, 3101 N. Main St., Soquel, 477-9265.  Beer and wine. Serving brunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m.

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