Category Archives: Restaurant News

Lots of popups this weekend in Santa Cruz & Scotts Valley

Mole nachos from My Mom’s Mole.
Photo credit: My Mom’s Mole Facebook page

There are many pop-up dining opportunities this weekend, May 26-27, 2017, in the Santa Cruz area–here are details for a few including two at local breweries.

 

Friday night: My Mom’s Mole at POPUP

My Mom’s Mole is hosting dinner at POPUP from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Friday (or earlier if the food sells out). There will be mole nachos (chicken and veggie options) made with My Mom’s Mole homemade tortilla chips plus their signature cactus and kale salad.

POPUP, 1108 Pacific Ave. (next to Assembly), Santa Cruz

 

Friday night: La Sofrita at Steel Bonnet Brewing Co.

La Sofrita is doing dinner at Steel Bonnet Brewing Co. from 4-9 p.m. Friday. Dishes available will include empanadas; Puerto Rican achiote rice and pink beans, stewed with ham and sweet potatoes; mango-cucumber salad; and yuca fries served with garlic-mojo dipping sauce. Buck N The Odds will play live music.

Steel Bonnet Brewing Co., 20 Victor Square, Scotts Valley

 

Saturday night: Homeless Garden Project at POPUP

Homeless Garden Project is holding its first “farm to table pop-up” at Assembly’s POPUP, from 5:30-9 p.m. Saturday. Angie Smith is preparing the food. Menu selections will be beet sliders with pickled radishes and creamy green goddess dressing; Southern style barbecue chicken sliders; grilled potato salad with arugula and lemon mustard vinaigrette; summer chopped salad; and strawberries, angel food cake waffles and honeyed whipped cream.

POPUP, 1108 Pacific Ave. (next to Assembly), Santa Cruz

 

Saturday night: Hanloh at East Cliff Brewing Co.

Hanloh Thai Food will be at East Cliff Brewing Co. from 5-9 p.m. Saturday. Their menu will include vegan and gluten-free options. There will be live music by Take One from 7-9 p.m.

East Cliff Brewing Co., 21517 East Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz

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Hyatt Carmel Highlands features divine dinner options

Almond yogurt with root vegetables at California Market at Pacific's Edge. Photo courtesy of Hyatt Carmel Highlands

Almond yogurt with root vegetables at California Market at Pacific’s Edge. Photo courtesy of Hyatt Carmel Highlands

In early March, I visited the Hyatt Carmel Highlands and ate dinner at California Market at Pacific’s Edge for the first time, and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. From the service, to the food, to the views—everything combined to make an incredible, enjoyable experience that I’ll remember for a very long time.

 

Soon after my husband and I sat down, our server David greeted us. He was extremely attentive for the next two hours, and I appreciated his down to earth nature and his enthusiasm and knowledge about the menu offerings.

 

We began with an appetizer, which was almond yogurt mixed with roasted root vegetables and pistachio granola. This is offered a la carte or as course one of the four-course plant based tasting menu ($50, or $80 with wine pairings, the menu rotates every six weeks or so).

I would not have ordered this dish without the waiter’s recommendation, and wow would I have missed out! Delightful, surprising tastes and textures…when I think of yogurt and granola, that sounds like a breakfast item. This worked beautifully as a light, unusual beginning to dinner.

 

We got the honor of meeting sous chef Pancho Castellon that night. He joined the Hyatt in April 2016, and he is vegan. “It was (executive chef) Chad Minton’s idea to create a plant-based tasting menu in order to enforce sustainability and to show people that you can still enjoy a full diner without the need of animal proteins,” says Castellon, who helped launch the menu last September.

 

As I talked to chef Pancho about watching some diners try vegan food for the first time, his eyes lit up with enthusiasm. He also became very animated when discussing the great ingredients the restaurant gets from various sources, including all the wonderful local produce. “I find this very inspiring, and love building relationships with our farmers and producers.”

 

We followed the first appetizer with an octopus starter that was extremely tender and flavorful. The fish is first done as a confit at a very low heat with California extra virgin olive oil. After the confit process, the octopus is chilled and then finished in the plancha. “Then we add some black garlic emulsion and new potatoes,” shares Castellon. There was also a kalamata olive aioli on the plate and I could have eaten a whole cup of this sauce.

 

One of our favorite dishes that night was Tom Yum soup, which included coconut squash broth plus strong lemongrass and kaffir lime flavors. Chef Pancho shared his inspiration for creating this: “I have always liked Thai coconut soup and was trying to find a way to make it less Thai and more ‘California/Pacific like’. It was also perfect for our winter menu. That is why we made the soup using local squash as a base, seasonal vegetables and some of the local foraged mushrooms Far West Fungi brings us.” The restaurant confits the mushrooms to give them a ham-like texture, which we noticed and enjoyed. Indeed, my husband—a devout meat-eater eating vegan soup—wanted to lick his bowl clean, but resisted.

 

California Market at Pacific’s Edge regularly uses Far West Fungi in Moss Landing for mushrooms (both wild and harvested), and receives other ingredients like huckleberries on occasion if these have also been foraged. A majority of the other produce used in the menu comes from a 50-mile radius, including Coke Farm, Brian’s Ranch, Mariquita Farms, Happy Boy Farms, and Swank Farms.

 

All of California Market’s menus, curated by executive chef Minton, feature a California map that points out local producers, such as Bellwether Farms Creamery in Sonoma and Monterey Abalone Company in Monterey. The restaurant also follows the guidelines of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch and serves cage- and GMO-free eggs in its dishes.

 

Two entrees that stood out were scallops and tuna. The meaty, fresh scallops were served with gorgeous heirloom cauliflower and a to-die-for Romesco sauce. I noticed that the plant-based tasting menu’s third course was a vegan version of the same dish. The main difference was utilizing king trumpet mushrooms instead of scallops. “I really wanted something on the tasting menu that represents our regular menu, so I asked our mushroom guys if they could grow some big king trumpet mushrooms for us so I could cut the stems in scallop shapes,” said Castellon. “Then I smoked them with hickory, compressed them with kombu, and seared them like a regular scallop.” Castellon says that some couples have ordered both the vegan ones and the regular ones and it’s actually kind of hard to notice the difference in the plated dish.

 

The tuna dish was served with beer-battered avocado (so fun and tasty!), jicama cucumber salad, pistachio vinaigrette and piquillo pepper emulsion. The flavors and textures worked together beautifully.

 

Finally, for dessert, we devoured a heavenly chocolate hazelnut tart (I emphasize “devoured” because we thought we were quite full, but it was too good not to finish). Available on both the regular and tasting menus, it was served with burnt marshmallow, wild huckleberry granite (with berries from Far West Fungi) and whipped coconut cream. One day Castellon was at home reading some cookbooks, brainstorming ideas for a new menu. His wife Kika, who he describes as a “hardcore vegan,” came out of the kitchen with S’mores that she made using vegan “nutella” and dandies (vegan marshmallows). “I was up all night trying to figure out how to make it happen on the tasting menu. The next day I met with our pastry cook Kasala and started working on the recipe—and it’s vegan, gluten-free and almost sugar free.”

 

I highly recommend you have a meal as soon as possible at California Market at Pacific’s Edge. Since the hotel is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, there are a few opportunities for trying the food at special events as well. One is the “Forks.Corks.Action!” Winemaker series in the Wine Room, where attendees will meet the winemakers and enjoy a four-course dinner with wine paired with each course. During the series, winemakers will discuss the history, culture and qualities of the featured wines from Monterey and Santa Cruz County that will accompany chef Minton’s seasonal, locally sourced and plant-based menus.

 

There will be three Winemakers Dinners in 2017:

 

  • Thursday, April 27 — In honor of Earth Day held annually April 22, this will be a plant based four course winemaker’s dinner with Pierce Ranch Vineyards, which will be showcasing their sustainable wines  ($120 inclusive per person). The menu includes a second course of caramelized morel risotto featuring asparagus and macadamia nuts.

 

  • Thursday, Sept. 28 — In honor of California Wine Month, California Market at Pacific’s Edge is teaming up with DeTierra Wines and the National Steinbeck Center for a benefit dinner.  Learn about DeTierra wines and their connection to John Steinbeck.  Listen to Steinbeck Scholar Susan Shillinglaw talk about John Steinbeck while enjoying a four-course wine pairing meal  ($140 inclusive per person/$20 from each ticket benefits the National Steinbeck Center)

 

  • Thursday, November 9 – Details to be announced

 

Curious about the restaurant’s name? The hotel used to have two restaurants, casual bistro California Market and fine dining Pacific’s Edge, but they merged them into a new and improved venue in January. The restaurant underwent welcome renovations including an 870-square-foot deck with a louvered roof and glass-panel walls.

 

Details:

Hyatt Carmel Highlands, Overlooking Big Sur Coast

120 Highland Drive, Carmel

highlandsinn.hyatt.com or 831-620-1234

 

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Dine at Hula’s on Mondays and support Boys and Girls Club of Santa Cruz County

April Mahalo Mondays benefit Boys and Girls Club

April Mahalo Mondays benefit Boys and Girls Club

If you go out for dinner or drinks at the downtown Santa Cruz restaurant Hula’s on Monday nights in April, part of your meal will benefit the Boys and Girls Club.

 

During the month of April, Hula’s Island Grill & Tiki Room – a wonderful place to eat and drink with selections to accommodate many different tastes – is donating 10% of all Monday night sales to the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Cruz County.

 

This promotion is part of the restaurant’s Mahalo Mondays community giving program; on selected months throughout the year, a different non-profit organization receives 10% of Monday evening sales. Between 2008 and 2016, Hula’s donated more than $143,000 to 56 local nonprofit organizations via Mahalo Mondays proceeds.

 

If you haven’t been to Hula’s lately, there’s a great lanai in front providing outdoor seating; it opened in May 2016. The restaurant’s menu features Hawaiian fusion dishes and other choices. Lunch highlights include delicious burgers with beef and veggie options that come with choice of sweet potato fries (warning: addictive), regular fries, slaw or arugula or Caesar salad; rice bowls with black beans, cabbage mix, and choice of “jungle” tofu, wasabi ahi or spicy Thai chicken; and a variety of tacos. At dinnertime, all of these dishes are still available, and there are many more such as Hawaiian fish soup, slow-roasted pork plate, and fresh fish. For seafood, you can choose between six types of fish and select one of six preparation types to match it with. For example, pick lemongrass-encrusted halibut with lime-ginger-cream sauce or pan-fried ono with shiitakes. Hula’s also offers a tiki bar that features 40 different rums, tropical drink specialties and more.

 

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Cruz County promotes youth guidance through educational, vocational, recreational, social and character development of girls and boys ages 6 to 18. The Club is the only youth service organization in the greater Santa Cruz area providing daily afterschool drop-in programs five days a week. There is a downtown Santa Cruz location, and a new Live Oak location that opened one year ago. Boys & Girls Clubs also offer a summer day camp program five days a week from mid-June through mid-August, and Winter and Spring break day camps.

 

Details

Hula’s Island Grill and & Tiki Room, 221 Cathcart Street (between Cedar and Pacific), Santa Cruz (831) 426-4852

Dates: April 10, 17, and 24

Hours: Dinner nightly 4:00 p.m.–close, lunch Tuesday- Sunday 11:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m., happy hour with daily specials (Tuesday–Sunday 2-6 p.m., Monday 4:30–6).

 

 

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St. Patrick’s Day food and drink highlights for Santa Cruz County & nearby

My Mom’s Mole, Elkhorn Slough Brewing & The Green Waffle are collaborating for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo credit: My Mom’s Mole Facebook page

My Mom’s Mole, Elkhorn Slough Brewing & The Green Waffle are collaborating for St. Patrick’s Day. Photo credit: My Mom’s Mole Facebook page

There are many enticing foods and events for St. Patrick’s Day 2017 in Santa Cruz and nearby areas. Here are a few highlights.

My Mom’s Mole is hosting an event at Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co. in Watsonville on Friday, March 17, from 4-8 p.m. There will be taco and green waffle options with shredded chicken and/or roasted root vegetables and mole sauce (My Mom’s Mole signature sauce and/or mole verde). A side of My Mom’s Mole signature cactus & kale salad accompanies each dish. The waffles are courtesy of The Green Waffle LLC and El Nopalito Produce is providing the nopales (cactus).

My Mom’s Mole, The Green Waffle, and El Nopalito Produce are three of the 30-plus locally owned businesses that operate out of Watsonville’s El Pájaro CDC Commercial Kitchen Incubator. Elkhorn Slough Brewing Co. opened in 2016 and focuses on wild ales made with locally harvested yeast and other locally sourced ingredients.

Elkhorn Slough co-founder Julie Rienhardt said,“When locals come together to make great food and drink from the ingredients all around us, it takes delicious to a whole new level. We are proud to be serving our beer with My Mom’s Mole to the wonderful Watsonville community for a festive St. Patrick’s Day celebration.”

Location: 65 Hangar Way, Watsonville

La Sofrita is doing a “We’re all Irish on St. Patrick’s Day” popup from 5:30-9 p.m. Friday, at POPUP next to Assembly. Chef Anna says “while staying true to Puerto Rican classics and flavors, we will pay homage to the Irish.” The menu will include rellenos de papa, a classic Puerto Rican dish of mashed potatoes stuffed with savory beef picadillo, then gently fried; corned beef empanadas (plus a few of La Sofrita’s other empanada varieties) served with curtido, a lightly pickled cabbage slaw; and Puerto Rican chicken stew flavored with sofrito and adobo, served with Puerto Rican rice. Beer will also be available.

 

Location: 1108 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz

 

Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticceria is offering corned beef and cabbage dinner for $15.95. This includes potatoes, carrots, onions, horseradish cream and a slice of Irish soda bread. Dinners will be available Thursday and Friday, March 16-17, starting at 9 a.m. (cold) and noon (hot) for take-out service. Cost is $15.95. The restaurant has also created Guinness stout chocolate cake, Bailey’s Irish cream cheesecake and iced shamrock cookies. Gayle’s is at Learn more:

Location: 504 Bay Ave., Capitola

 

Ella’s at the Airport  is serving corned beef and cabbage for lunch and dinner. There will also be Irish-inspired drinks.

Location: 100 Aviation Way, Watsonville

 

Malone’s is offering what it calls “traditional St. Patrick’s Day food specials” plus Irish style beers and special cocktails, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Friday. There will be live music in the evening.

Location: 4402 Scotts Valley Dr., Scotts Valley

 

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Pi Day discounts at Blaze Pizza and Whole Foods Market on the Central Coast

Blaze Pizza has $3.14 pies on Pi Day, March 14, 2017 Credit: Blaze Pizza

Blaze Pizza has $3.14 pies on Pi Day, March 14, 2017
Credit: Blaze Pizza

Pi Day, March 14, is tomorrow and people and businesses will be celebrating across the country—including restaurants and food vendors on the Central Coast such as Blaze Pizza and Whole Foods Market.

Blaze Pizza, which offers customers personalized pizza cooked in three minutes, has 185 restaurants—mostly in the US, but also in Canada. It’s celebrating Pi Day by offering $3.14 whole pizzas all day at all locations on March 14. Originally imagined as an unconventional “pop-up” event three years ago, Blaze’s Pi Day celebration has become very popular. They expect to serve close to 250,000 pizzas on March 14, 2017.

 

Whole Foods Market is celebrating Pi Day by offering customers $3.14 off both large bakery pies and large take-and-bake pizzas. Frozen products are excluded from this promotion.

This deal is only valid on March 14 and available while supplies last at shops across the county including Bay Area ones like Capitola, Santa Cruz and Monterey. Varieties of pies and pizzas vary from store to store, but may include pumpkin pie, apple pie, gluten-free apple pie, cherry pie, pepperoni pizza, cheese pizza, and vegan pizza. All WFM pies and pizzas contain no hydrogenated fats, no bleached or bromated flours, and no artificial flavors or preservatives.

Here are some facts about Pi Day provided by Blaze Pizza:

  • Pi Day is celebrated each year on March 14, to commemorate the irrational number of 3.141592653
  • In 2009 the US government recognized March 14 as National Pi Day
  • Pi, or π, is defined as the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It’s an irrational number, meaning it cannot be written as a simple fraction
  • March 14 is also Einstein’s birthday. He was born in Germany in 1879
  • The first organized Pi Day was in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium. Physicist Larry Shaw had the idea to celebrate the day by marching around a circle and then eating some pies. They still have the celebration today

 

Local Blaze Details

  • Blaze San Jose-Almaden is at 5353 Almaden Expressway. Call (408) 440-2307 for details.
  • Blaze Marina is at The Dunes, 110 General Stilwell Dr. Call (831) 324-0246 for details.
  • Blaze Salinas is Northridge Mall, 796 Northridge Shopping Center. Call (831) 443-1123 for details.

For more Blaze locations, including one in SF at Stonestown, see the store locator.

Local Whole Foods Details

For more Whole Foods Market locations, see the store locator.

 

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Four days remain for Crow’s Nest downstairs specials–plus other restaurant news

“Drunken Prawns” with prawns, Andouille sausage, potato Parmesan pancake and crispy onions in bourbon gravy: a recent Thursday prix fixe entrée option at Crow’s Nest Photo credit: Crow’s Nest Facebook page

“Drunken Prawns” with prawns, Andouille sausage, potato Parmesan pancake and crispy onions in bourbon gravy: a recent Thursday prix fixe entrée option at Crow’s Nest
Photo credit: Crow’s Nest Facebook page

Santa Cruz harbor restaurant The Crow’s Nest has some great Monday through Thursday specials, valid at both lunch and dinner, and they’re ending this Thursday, March 9, 2017 — although the “Deal With a View” dinner special, served only in the upstairs bar, is also wonderful and that one’s valid through May 25.

Let’s first discuss the main restaurant weekday specials, served in the regular downstairs restaurant. These are called “Downstairs Classic Specials,” and are valid at both lunch and dinner:

  • Monday is retro menu ($21.95) with your choice of tempura scallops, broiled salmon or enchilada and sirloin. Each entrée comes with soup or house salad plus rice and vegetables.
  • Tuesday is lobster ($21.95) — broiled lobster tail with soup or house salad plus rice and vegetables.
  • Wednesday is steak day ($21.95): choose prime grade large top sirloin with crispy fried onions and Chef’s steak sauce or petit filet mignon with mocha rub and porcini butter or smoked 10 oz. prime rib (while they last). All come with soup or house salad, mashed potatoes and vegetables.
  • Thursday is prix fixe menu ($25), where customers receive a three-course menu designed by the chef. Two recent entrées are pork tenderloin in a syrah demi-glacé, topped with house smoked blue cheese and accompanied by pumpkin gnocchi with candied bacon; and “Drunken Prawns” with prawns, Andouille sausage, potato Parmesan pancake and crispy onions in a bourbon gravy.

 

As I mentioned, there are four days remaining this season to get the above weekday specials; they might be back again after Labor Day.

 

Deal with a View, on the other hand, is still running after this week. It’s only available upstairs, in the Crow’s Nest Breakwater Bar & Grill. It’s served from Monday through Friday evenings from 6 p.m. until the kitchen closes. For $9.95, customers receive entrée choice of Tuscan Chicken Sandwich, Fish Tacos, or Aloha Burger, served with soup, salad or fries (salad bar option costs an extra $2).
Another option: I just bought food from the restaurant’s next-door shop, Beach Market, for the first time. I highly recommend it. They have lots of very reasonably priced wood-fired pizzas plus sandwiches, salads and more. I enjoyed chicken pesto pizza and my young daughter liked the Hawaiian variety. My husband loved his pizza sandwich (mozzarella and red sauce with choice of three toppings on a francese roll).

 

For details on all of these, visit the Crow’s Nest web site.

Crow’s Nest is at 2218 East Cliff Dr., Santa Cruz, 831-476-4560

 

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Trio of events at Santa Cruz’s Assembly and POPUP this weekend

Puerto Rican food by La Sofrita, Photo credit: La Sofrita Facebook page

Puerto Rican food by La Sofrita. Photo credit: La Sofrita Facebook page

There are many events, including some food-related ones, occurring this weekend in the Santa Cruz area. Here are details for three events in Santa Cruz at POPUP and Assembly (all at 1108 Pacific Ave.).

 

Friday night: My Mom’s Mole at POPUP

To celebrate National Tortilla Chip Day, My Mom’s Mole is hosting dinner at POPUP from 5:30-9:30 p.m. (or earlier if the food sells out). There will be mole nachos (chicken and veggie options) made with My Mom’s Mole homemade tortilla chips and a new mole queso sauce.

 

Saturday: La Sofrita at POPUP

La Sofrita will be at POPUP beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Puerto Rican Pop Up menu will feature dishes including empanadas with vegetarian options, Puerto Rican achiote rice and stewed pink beans, and garlic mojo chicken (made with organic thighs). “And, back by popular demand, shrimp a la criolla,” said chef Anna. The shrimp is simmered in a tomato-white wine broth, with sofrito and manzanilla-stuffed olives, and served atop Puerto Rican rice. “We’ll also have yuca fries served with garlic-olive oil dip,” she added. “You think you like French fries? Wait til you try these!” This pop-up doubles as the pre-party for the Santa Cruz Warriors vs. Windy City Bulls game at Kaiser Permanente Arena, but everyone is welcome, whether or not they are attending that game. A percentage of the proceeds will benefit the development of the Scotts Valley Sports Complex.

 

Sunday: Oscars Viewing Party at Assembly

Event Santa Cruz is hosting its second annual gala event—complete with red carpet—to celebrate the Oscars beginning at 5 p.m. at Assembly. People are encouraged to dress in black tie. Tickets are $35 and include several savory and sweet bites throughout the evening and a glass of champagne upon arrival (additional drinks can be purchased at the new Assembly cocktail bar). There will be a large screen to watch the Oscars, and a separate, “no-talking room” for serious fans. All attendees will be entered in a drawing for Santa Cruz Warriors tickets. Purchase tickets or get more information online at eventsantacruz.com.

All events are at POPUP and/or Assembly, 1108 Pacific Ave.

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Valentine’s Day dining in Santa Cruz & Monterey Counties, Part 2 of 2

Valentine's dessert trio at Michael's on Main: passion fruit mousse shooter, strawberry-filled chocolate bon bon & French vanilla bean macaroon. Photo credit: Michael's on Main

Valentine’s dessert trio at Michael’s on Main: passion fruit mousse shooter, strawberry-filled chocolate bon bon & French vanilla bean macaroon. Photo credit: Michael’s on Main

Valentine’s Day is two days away; have you made your plans? Here are details on a few options in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties. If you missed yesterday’s post, here is a link.

Santa Cruz County

Food Lounge

The Santa Cruz Food Lounge (1001 Center St., Santa Cruz) has a couple options on Valentine’s Day. People can sit at the bar and have a chocolate tasting accompanied by a drink or two, or they can pick a spot in the dining room or lounge and order food from Tanglewood. Chef Rachel of Tanglewood will be creating selections including carrot ginger soup topped with crema and cilantro oil; and dinners with choice of pork tenderloin or grilled portabella mushroom plus lemon white wine sauce and garlic mashed potatoes. Roasted veggies accompany the tenderloin, and arugula in balsamic vinaigrette accompanies the portabella. No reservations are required (or allowed); and everyone is welcome including families, singles, etc. Hours are 4 to 8 p.m.

 

Johnny’s Harborside

Johnny’s Harborside (493 Lake Ave., Santa Cruz) is offering a four-course Valentine’s prix menu. Cost is $60 per person. Starter choices include raw abalone nigiri with honey miso glaze and seaweed salad; second courses include Dungeness crab bisque and salad with strawberries, candied walnuts, Gorgonzola and balsamic. Four entrée selections include prosciutto-wrapped halibut or Surf and Turf with 4 oz. filet mignon and half lobster tail. Desserts include strawberry shortcake or lemon tart. Call (831) 479-3430 for reservations.

 

Michael’s on Main

Michael’s on Main (2591 Main St., Soquel) began offering its Valentine’s prix menu Friday, Feb. 10 and it lasts until Tuesday. Cost is $35 for three courses. Appetizers include ahi tuna poke cups with wasabi cream; four entrée selections include cold water lobster tail with forbidden black rice, veggies and pink peppercorn beurre blanc or petit NY steak (8 oz.) with garlic mashed potatoes, Béarnaise and veggies. Everyone receives a dessert trio (see photo above) with passion fruit mousse shooter, strawberry-filled chocolate bon bon and French vanilla bean macaroon. Call (831) 479-9777 for reservations.

 

Assembly

Assembly (1108 Pacific, Santa Cruz) is offering a three-course Valentine’s prix menu for $55 per person; a few optional supplements are extra such as Kusshi oysters ($3/$15/$24 single/1/2 dozen/dozen). Starter choices include roasted quail with wild mushrooms, pinot soaked figs and herbed couscous. Four entrée selections include grass-fed Manhattan filet with creamed nettles and truffled Yukons and arugula almond pesto or sand dab Meuniere with caper brown butter sauce and roasted cauliflower rice. Desserts include sorbet trio from Penny Ice Creamery or dark chocolate pave with candied kumquats and salted butter ice cream. Call (831) 824-6100 for reservations.

 

Hindquarter Bar & Grille

Hindquarter Bar & Grille (303 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz) will have Valentine’s specials like Rack of Lamb, Prime Rib and seasonal seafood from 5-9:30 p.m. The restaurant will also serve its regular menu. Call (831) 426-7770 for reservations.

 

Ideal Bar & Grill (106 Beach St. at the Santa Cruz Wharf), The Point Chophouse & Lounge (3326 Portola Dr., Santa Cruz), Café Cruz (2621 41st Ave., Soquel) and Severino’s Bar & Grill (7500 Old Dominion Ct., Aptos) are all serving Valentine’s Day specials.

 

MONTEREY COUNTY

 

California Market at Pacific’s Edge

California Market at Pacific’s Edge at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands (120 Highlands Drive, Carmel) is serving a Valentine’s prix fixe dinner. The four-course Valentine’s dinner is $125 per person and reservations are required at 831-622-5445. First course choices include ahi tuna tiradito with fennel-cucumber salsa. Entrees include Colorado rack of lamb with piquillo peppers and chimichurri or wild mushroom risotto with winter truffle and Parmesan cheese crisps.

 

Steinbeck House

The historic Steinbeck House (132 Central Ave., Salinas) is serving a Valentine’s Day dinner. The meal includes one glass of wine, cheese tortellini soup, Caesar salad, entrée (choice of Porterhouse steak or filo-baked salmon) and dessert. Call 831-424-2735 for reservations; seatings are available from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Cost is $60 per person inclusive.

 

Jacks Restaurant at Portola Hotel and Spa

Jacks Restaurant (Two Portola Plaza, Monterey) is serving a prix fixe menu 5 to 10 p.m. on Valentines Day, Tuesday, Feb. 14. The four-course meal is $64.95 plus tax and gratuity; call 831-649-7874 for reservations. The meal starts with an amuse bouche of Hog Island oysters and caviar. First course options include lobster bisque with brioche croutons, Pernod and orange oil. Entrée choices include filet mignon and sweet breads with potato puree, local porcinis and Périgord truffles or wild King salmon with Dungeness crab gratin, haricot verts and Meyer lemon sauce. Dessert is passion fruit soufflé for two with macadamia nut and crème anglaise, plus a box of chocolate strawberries to go. Also, the hotel is offering a romance package until March 31. This includes accommodations, a bottle of Veuve Clicquot delivered to your room, breakfast for two at Jacks and more.

 

TusCA Ristorante at Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa

TusCA (1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey) is serving a special menu designed for two, from 5:30-9 p.m. Cost is $80 for two people. For reservations call 831-657-6675. Customers can choose an appetizer and dessert to share, and each person receives an entrée and a glass of sparkling wine.

 

Tarpy’s Roadhouse

Tarpy’s (2999 Monterey-Salinas Highway, Monterey) is doing a couple promotions for Valentine’s Day. Customers will receive fifty percent off all “bubbles by the glass” plus full and half bottles. Also, the restaurant will feature a special appetizer of seared diver scallops with lobster-parsnip puree and artichoke-corn succotash. Call 831-647-1444 for reservations.

 

Gordon’s Café and Catering

Gordon’s (343 Main St., Salinas) is doing a take-out promotion. If you order dinner to go for two people, the restaurant will include a special complimentary appetizer created just for Valentine’s Day. Call 831-422-4133 for more information.

 

Sardine Factory

Sardine Factory (701 Wave St., Monterey) is serving a prix fixe menu from 5 to 10 p.m. The four-course meal is $75 per person. A limited a la carte menu and Valentine’s drink specials will also be available. The meal begins with Dungeness crab bisque with sherry, cognac and crème fraiche, followed by a salad with greens, roasted strawberries, toasted pecans, feta cheese and cocoa balsamic dressing. Entrée choices include filet mignon and foie gras or King salmon with truffled gnocchi and artichokes. Dessert choices include chocolate pot au crème with spun sugar, Chantilly crème and chocolate-covered espresso beans. Reservations are required at 831-373-3775.

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Valentine’s Day dining in Santa Cruz & Monterey counties, Part 1 of 2

Hanloh Thai offerings at a Food Lounge pop-up on Feb. 10. Photo credit: Hanloh

Hanloh Thai offerings at a Food Lounge pop-up on Feb. 10. Photo credit: Hanloh

Valentine’s Day 2017 is only three days away. Here are details on a few Santa Cruz and Monterey County dining options; I’ll publish more tomorrow.

 

Santa Cruz

Midtown Café featuring Hanloh Popup

Midtown Café (1121 Soquel Ave.) is hosting a popup dinner with Hanloh Thai from 5:30-9 p.m. A la carte dishes for sale will include a lettuce wrap, two types of curry (chicken Masaman with tamarind, cinnamon, cardamom, lemongrass and more; vegan sour orange curry with mushrooms and other veggies), and black sticky rice pudding and coconut custard for dessert. Prices will be $3-12. There will be local craft beer and wine available.

 

The Chaminade

The Chaminade (One Chaminade Lane) will serve a three-course dinner on Valentine’s Day from 5-9 p.m.; the price is $65 exclusive of tax and gratuity. Three first course options include lobster bisque or braised pork belly with fennel jam. Four entrée selections include Osso Bucco or pan-seared Arctic char with lemon couscous salad, candied ginger crème, and roasted cauliflower. Desserts include champagne crème brulee with roasted strawberries. Call (831) 475-5600 for reservations.

 

Buttercup Cakes & Farmhouse Frosting

Buttercup Cakes & Farmhouse Frosting (1411 Pacific Ave.) is doing a “Sweetheart Dessert” fundraiser to benefit Planned Parenthood. The dessert buffet with wine and champagne is from 6-9 p.m.; the price is $20 in advance or $25 at the door. Call (831) 466-0373 for more info.

 

Pour Taproom

Pour Taproom (110 Cooper St., enter on Pacific) is offering a three-course menu on Valentine’s Day that includes vegan and GF options. There will also be beer and wine pairings. Reservations are recommended for table seating. Call (831) 535-7007 for reservations. The venue is also hosting a Makers’ Market this Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. that will include gift ideas for Valentine’s Day. Vendors will include Ashby Confections, Turquoise Blue Jewelry, and My Mom’s Mole.

Your Place

Your Place (1719 Mission St.) is offering its Valentine’s prix menu all month long. Cost is $25 for three courses. Appetizer choices include crab cake; five entrée selections include rib eye steak and 4 oz. lobster or meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Desserts include chocolate ganache cake or Meyer lemon tart. Call (831) 426-3564 for reservations.

 

MONTEREY COUNTY

 

Estéban

Estéban at Casa Munras (700 Munras Ave., Monterey) is serving a prix fixe dinner on Valentine’s Day, with seatings available from 5 to 9:30 p.m. The five-course dinner costs $100 for two people; wine pairing is $35 extra per person. Featured selections include Kusshi oysters with cucumber mignonette; butternut squash and lobster soup with jumbo prawns and scallops; and duck and foie gras terrine. Wines include Madeleine’s 2012 L’Arsouille Pinot Blanc. A limited a la carte menu will also be available. Make reservations at 831-324-6773.

Il Vecchio

Il Vecchio (110 Central Ave., Pacific Grove) is serving a Valentine’s four-course dinner for $46. First course is a choice between two salads including Sicilian oranges, artisan greens and garlic dressing. Second course choices include house-made ricotta and spinach ravioli or house-made fettucine with sausage and mushrooms. Entrée highlights include tri-tip simmered in Chianti with pearl onions or Saltimbocca Romana. Dessert choices include limoncello sorbet with preserved amarena cherries. Make reservations at 831-324-4282.

 

Edgar’s

Edgar’s at Quail Lodge and Golf Club (8205 Valley Greens Drive, Carmel) is serving a prix fixe dinner on Valentine’s Day, with seatings from 5 to 9 p.m. The three-course dinner features appetizer choices including diver sea scallops or Dungeness crab salad. Entrée selections include sea bass with potato rosti and tarragon butter sauce and desserts include molten chocolate cake with raspberry coulis. Cost is $69 per person. Reservations are recommended at 831-620-8910.

 

Bistro Moulin

Bistro Moulin (867 Wave St., Monterey) is serving a prix fixe menu beginning at 5 p.m. The three-course meal is $55 per person; wine pairings cost extra. The regular dinner menu will not be available. The meal begins with choices such as lobster bisque with crème fraiche and chives with optional pairing of Sheldon’s grenache blanc; or truffle gnocchi with optional chardonnay from Figge. Entrée choices include filet mignon with cognac, peppercorn demi-glace and pommes frites. Dessert selections include crème brûlée and lemon meringue tartlett. Make reservations at 831-333-1200.

 

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San Francisco & Napa restaurant highlights for New Year’s Eve 2016

Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco

Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco. Photo credit: Top of the Mark

It’s almost New Year’s Eve 2016-2017! If you’re planning to dine in San Francisco or Napa, here are a few restaurant highlights for New Year’s Eve and a couple for New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Eve:

San Francisco

Top of the Mark at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco

Ring in the New Year with family, friends, and an unforgettable view at Top of the Mark! From 7:30 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., enjoy a special reception, entertainment, dinner, dancing, and a Champagne toast at midnight. Start your evening with champagne and hors d’oeuvres including assorted caviar, Tomales Bay & Rockefeller oysters, Spanish Serrano ham carving station, raw seafood selections, and more. Following the reception, guests will enjoy a seated five-course dinner with bottle of Moet & Chandon Imperial before dancing the night away and toasting the New Year with a glass of Moet & Chandon Rose. Rounding out the festivities is live entertainment by Mirage, whose exciting style ranges from Jazz to rock. Formal dress is required. Regular reservations are $400 per person; premium seating is $450 per person. Reservations required at 415-616-6941.

 

Luce at the InterContinental San Francisco

Chef Daniel Corey of the Michelin-star Luce rings in the New Year with a five-course menu and optional wine pairing. Guests will enjoy live entertainment from 6pm – 8pm featuring Ricardo Scales and a jazz band will toast the New Year starting at 8pm. Dinner is $159 per person/$234 with wine pairing, excluding tax and gratuity. First seating is at 6pm and last seating is at 11:30pm. For reservations, visit OpenTable.

Presidio Social Club
On New Year’s Eve, Presidio Social Club will have a special a la carte dinner menu available, including specials like Foie Gras with Pineapple-Quince Marmalade and Quatre épices; Cannelloni with Crawfish Etouffee and Grilled Andouille Sausage; Black Bass with Potato-Celery Root Puree, Leek Confit with Bacon, and Black Truffle Sauce; and Filet Minon with Bone Marrow, Winter Hash, and Sauce Bordelaise. Presidio Social Club will be pouring from magnums of Charles Heidsieck all night long and a live band will be playing throughout the evening! Call 415-885-1888 or make a reservation through OpenTable.

Roka Akor 

Count down to the New Year at Roka Akor (801 Montgomery St.) while enjoying Japanese robata cuisine and prime-cut steaks, seafood and sashimi. This year, Executive Chef Roman Petry has put together a special dinner tasting menu that will highlight signature menu items prepared on the open-charcoal robata grill. Priced at $138 per person, the tasting menu will feature dishes such as King Crab Legs with chili lime butter; Robata Grilled Wagyu Fillet with grilled bone marrow and spicy sweet garlic soy; and a Sweet Corn with butter and soy. For dessert, a Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake with almond caramel and vanilla ice cream will conclude the tasting menu. Known for their high quality steaks, Roka Akor will offer an optional $50 Japanese Wagyu upgrade (requires a minimum of two people to order). Additionally, an optional wine pairing with the tasting menu is available for $68 per person as well as a limited a la carte menu. Roka Akor’s New Year’s Eve dinner will be served from 5:30 p.m. until midnight. Please note that Roka Akor will be closed for lunch on New Year’s Eve. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made online, in-person, or by calling 415-362-8887.

La Mar
Ring in 2017 on the waterfront at La Mar Cebichería Peruana! With views of the Bay’s famous New Year’s Eve fireworks, the restaurant will offer the below three seatings throughout the night with colorful multi-course Peruvian feasts from Chef Victoriano Lopez. Reservations can be made on OpenTable or by calling 415-397-8880.

First Seating: 4:45-5:30pm, $89 3-course menu with signature Pisco greeting

Second Seating: 6:45-7:30pm, $89 3-course menu with signature Pisco greeting

Third Seating: 8:45-9:30pm, $129 4-course menu with signature Pisco greeting and midnight sparkling wine toast!

 

Nico
Critically acclaimed, Michelin-starred French/Californian restaurant Nico will be offering a festive six-course prix-fixe menu for $90 on New Year’s Eve, with special truffle supplements offered with certain courses for $15/each. Beverage Director Maz Naba has also created special standard ($65) and premium ($85) beverage pairings options for those looking to indulge in the last hours of 2016. Visit nicosf.com or call 415-359-1000 for reservations.

Foreign Cinema 

Join Foreign Cinema as they say farewell to 2016 with a nod to Old Hollywood. Ring in 2017 in true Foreign Cinema style with our celebratory prix fixe three course menu, with choice of options in each course, and a touch of vintage Hollywood glitz and glamour. $125.00 per person. Seatings from 5:30pm to 10:30pm

Napa

FARM at Carneros

Featuring jazz tunes by the Dan Daniels Trio, FARM at Carneros invites guests to celebrate New Year’s Eve and choose from one of two seatings (5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.). Designed by Executive Chef Aaron Meneghelli, two indulgent tasting menus will highlight the end of the year’s best ingredients. The first seating will offer a 5-course menu ($195) with courses such as a Big-Eyed Tuna with seared foie gras and kumquats; and Free-Range Venison from Broken Arrow Ranch with rosemary and bay laurel sourced from the 28-acre property, among others. For an extravagant bite, guests can add two courses that include white truffles and caviar. The second seating, priced at $225, will highlight seven courses, including Hand Cut Pasta with carbonara and Italian white truffles; a lobster course, and more. A special caviar course can also be added to top off the last supper of 2016. Finally, wine pairings for each course are available as well as a special curated bottle list for New Year’s Eve. On December 31, FARM at Carneros will be open from 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling 707-299-4880 or visiting farmatcarneros.com.

New Year’s Day:

San Francisco

Presidio Social Club

Presidio Social Club will be open for brunch on New Year’s Day from 10 am—3 pm. Sleep off the previous night’s festivities before joining PSC for comfort foods like Brown Sugar Cinnamon Rolls, Challah French Toast, burgers, Macaroni & Cheese, and Brioche Beignets. Call 415-885-1888 or make a reservation through OpenTable.

Top of the Mark

Start off the New Year in style with a special brunch at Top of the Mark. From 10:00 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Chef Michael Wong presents a delicious feast offering something for everyone’s taste. Brunch features an omelet and waffle station, along with Rock Shrimp Eggs Benedict with choron sauce. Also available are small plates and antipastos featuring Smoked Salmon, Grilled Winter Vegetables with spiced buttermilk dressing and roasted pepper sauce, local and international artisanal cheeses, homemade soups, and a selection of salads. Mouthwatering entrees and roasts include Kurobuta Pork Loin with caramelized granny smith apple and calvados cream along with Bone-In Leg of Lamb with rosemary jus. Pianist Michael Athens will provide the musical entertainment for New Year’s Day guests. Top of the Mark’s New Year’s Day brunch is $109 per adult and $59 per child (ages 4 – 12). Reservations are required at 415-616-6941.

Napa

FARM at Carneros

On New Year’s Day, FARM at Carneros is serving a decadent brunch from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Guests can celebrate with bubbly, oysters, caviar, and generous family-style courses. Priced at $45 per person, dishes to indulge in include Sweet Corn Johnny Cake with 72-hour short rib, braised collard greens, and sunny-side egg; and Apple Crumble Coffee Cake with harvest apple compote and cinnamon cream, among others. FARM’s bar also serves a variety of bubbles, fresh juices, and handcrafted cocktails, such as the Basil Gin Fizz with Nolet’s Gin, basil, green chartreuse, and cream; or the Garden Cooler with Rain vodka, fresh fruit, cucumber and lime juice, among others.  Regular dinner service is from 5:30– 9:30 p.m.  Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling 707-299-4880 or visiting farmatcarneros.com.

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