Category Archives: Restaurant News

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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Last minute foodie holiday gifts in Santa Cruz

Cookies from Pacific Cookie Co. Photo credit: PCC web site

Cookies from Pacific Cookie Co.
Photo credit: PCC web site

Haven’t finished your holiday shopping and have some foodies on your list? Want to shop local? There are lots of choices in the Santa Cruz area including some discounts; here are some highlights including a gift fair tomorrow that has plenty of options–whether you want to buy something food/drink-related or something else that’s made locally.

First, the gift fair:

2nd Annual Holiday Artisan Food & Gift Market — Saturday 12/17 at Food Lounge

I went to this fabulous event last year and bought gift items for several friends/family members, not to mention a few things for myself! The market will feature locally made packaged foods including jams, olive oil and hot sauce that are currently available in the Food Lounge Pantry, which opened in September. The holiday market will also offer beautiful jewelry, textiles, glass art, print art and kitchen antiques. Additionally, a few small-batch food producers will offer tamales, empanadas, meat pies and other items that would work well for holiday entertaining or for a delicious dinner with your family. Plus they will sell ready to eat food that customers can enjoy while shopping like empanadas (from La Sofrita Puerto Rican pop-up), tamales (Yoli’s Adobo) and savory pies (Artisan Hand Pies).

“We offer this market as close to the holidays as possible so that all of our vendors’ food-based products are fresh for gift-giving and entertaining,” said Andrea Conklin Mollenauer, one of the three partners in the Food Lounge, an incubator kitchen and event venue that will celebrate its second birthday in January. “We are excited to offer market space to 25 local vendors who don’t have their own brick-and- mortar places to sell products.”

Vendors with food gifts will include Friend in Cheeses Jam Co., Notso Hot Sauce, My Mom’s Mole, Ashby Confections, and Farmer Freed Salts. Non-food vendors will include True Blue Indigo (textiles), Love Light Vintage Candles, Verdant California (body products) and  Fereshteh Fatemi (artisan jewelry and greeting cards – disclaimer, this is the author’s mother).

In addition to the holiday market, the Food Lounge Pantry is open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to

7 p.m. as a hub for local artisan food products – a perfect stop for holiday shopping, including next week when you realize which folks you forgot to buy for!

Location: Food Lounge, 1001 Center St. Santa Cruz

Date/Time: Sat Dec. 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Next, some gift card discount highlights:

Until Christmas, Hula’s Santa Cruz (221 Cathcart St.) is offering a special: Purchase a $50 gift certificate for someone else and get a free $10 certificate for yourself; purchase $100 and get a free $20 gift card to treat yourself.

Mission Hill Creamery (1101 Pacific Ave.) has these discounts until Christmas: Buy a $25 gift card for $20 OR buy four $10 gift cards and receive the fifth free OR re-Charge your existing gift card with at least $20 and get 20% off your gift card purchase.

Through Dec. 24, Johnny’s Harborside (493 Lake) is offering a bonus: Purchase a $50 gift certificate for someone else and get $10 free; spend $100 and get $20 free, etc.

Other gift ideas

Last but not least, other foodie gift options include certificates from local restaurants. The Glass Jar announced they’re offering a card that’s good at any of their three restaurants—that’s Assembly, The Picnic Basket AND The Penny Ice Creamery. If you know people who are fans of Soif and/or La Posta, you can also purchase gift cards that are good at both. And Crow’s Nest gift cards are redeemable at the restaurant or its neighboring Crow’s Nest Beach Market.

Want to send a sweet Santa Cruz-themed food gift to someone? Pacific Cookie Company has lots of options. These include Top Tier Cookies & Chocolate Box ($49.95), with 36 two-ounce cookies and 32 white and milk chocolate flower medallions made by local chocolatier Mackenzies Chocolate; Sweet Elegance Cookie Gift Box ($37.95) with 24 two-oz. cookies, Season’s Eatings Christmas Tin ($26.95) with 36 one-oz. cookies, and Classic Cookies and Milk ($24.95) with a dozen two-ounce cookies and two 8-oz cartons of organic milk (it’s shelf-stable low-fat Horizon milk which doesn’t require refrigeration). Also, Los Gatos-based Manresa Bread now ships its scrumptious artisan bread anywhere in the continental U.S.; see my November article and/or the Manresa site for details.

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A roundup of Santa Cruz and Monterey County restaurant Thanksgiving offerings

The main dining area at Solaire, one of several local restaurants serving a special Thanksgiving menu Photo credit: Hotel Paradox

The main dining area at Solaire, one of many local restaurants serving a special Thanksgiving menu
Photo credit: Hotel Paradox

The countdown to Thanksgiving is on – if you’re planning to dine out in the Santa Cruz area or in Monterey County, here are a few restaurants to consider.

Santa Cruz & Capitola

Solaire at Hotel Paradox offers an a la carte Thanksgiving menu from 4-10 p.m. The nature/nurture-themed menu highlights local, sustainable cuisine with fresh ingredients. Entree choices include Roasted Turkey with mashed potato, stuffing, blue lake beans and gravy, Slow Roasted Prime rib, Pistachio Crusted Rack of Lamb, and Zucchini Fritters with spinach, red cabbage and chive cream. Other highlights include roasted pumpkin soup, butternut squash salad, and cranberry white chocolate chunk graham bars and miniature pumpkin pies. Call 831-425-7100 or visit hotelparadox.com for reservations.

I wanted to also share a fun Hotel Paradox package, whether you’re a local planning a staycation or have friends or family visiting Santa Cruz sometime this holiday season. The Polar Express™ Train Ride package makes it easy to enjoy this seasonal attraction. Afterward, families are invited to snuggle fireside at Solaire for smores and hot cocoa. The “I Believe” package includes overnight accommodations, an exclusive Golden Ticket required for entry to the train, fresh-baked cookies and milk delivered after check-in, a keepsake “I Believe” sleigh bell, and complimentary parking and Wi-Fi. Price is $175 adults/$29 kids. The Polar Express is traveling to Santa Cruz for the first time this season, recreated to match the sights and sounds of the beloved story. It departs from the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. On board the train, dancing chefs will serve warm cookies and hot cocoa to guests, while the Polar Express™ movie soundtrack–including a reading of the story–is played. Santa Claus will meet with each child, delivering silver sleigh bells. Contact the hotel at 831-425-7100 or hotelparadox.com for details.

Chaminade has a Thanksgiving buffet from noon to 6 p.m. The cost is $59.95 for adults, $18.95 for kids 6-12, and free for kids under 6. Selections include roast turkey with warm orange-cranberry compote, roasted Dijon-crusted lamb leg with mint jelly, apple cider braised pork loin with dried cherry bordelaise and crispy prosciutto, butternut squash ravioli with porcini crème and roast vegetable bruschetta, several salads, and winter squash soup with toasted pepita seeds.

One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz (831) 475-5600

 

Zelda’s has a traditional turkey dinner plus additional items on its holiday menu, beginning at noon. The dinner includes oven-roasted turkey, sage stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, candied sweet potatoes, cranberries and a roll. A 10 oz. adult portion is $19.95, 14 oz. is $23.95. Kids are $11.95 and pumpkin pie is $5.95.

203 Esplanade, Capitola (831) 475-4900

 

Hoffman’s is serving both brunch and dinner on Thanksgiving. Brunch is from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner starting at 3 p.m.

1102 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, (831) 420-0135

 

Your Place has a Thanksgiving buffet from noon to 7 p.m. The cost is $36.95 for adults, $13.95 for kids 6-12, and free for kids under 6. Selections include traditional roast turkey and house-made cranberry sauce, apple pecan bread stuffing, prime rib, honey brown sugar-glazed ham, grilled salmon with lemon caper sauce, eggs benedict (until 2 p.m.), penne pasta Bolognese, roasted beet salad, Caesar salad, pumpkin pie, apple crisp, lemon tart, chocolate cake and carrot cake.

1719 Mission St., Santa Cruz, (831) 426-3564

 

Monterey County

Anton & Michel Restaurant will serve its regular dinner menu plus a prix fixe three-course Thanksgiving dinner noon to 8 p.m. There are two choices for first course including spinach and radicchio salad with grilled pears, toasted walnuts, goat cheese and cinnamon-pear vinaigrette. The entrée is roast free-range turkey with cornbread and sausage stuffing, cranberry-port chutney, sweet potato-green onion mash and more. Dessert choices are pumpkin cheesecake and pecan pie. Tea and coffee are included.

Cost is $42 for adults and $21 for kids 12 and under.

Location: Court of the Fountains on Mission between Ocean and Seventh Avenues, Carmel, 831-624-2406

 

Estéban

Estéban at Casa Munras is offering a few options for Thanksgiving Day, from 1 to 7 p.m. The last seating is at 6:30 p.m. A prix fixe three-course meal is $48 for adults and $23 for kids 5-12. Chef Thomas Snyder will offer two appetizer selections including butternut squash soup with rock shrimp and piquillo peppers. Customers can choose an entrée of turkey, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and homemade cranberry sauce or Snake River trout with white beans, garlic confit and bacon lardons. These items plus Snyder’s signature tapas will also be available a la carte.

700 Munras Ave., Monterey, 831-324-6773

 

Fandango is serving a prix fixe meal on Thanksgiving from noon to 8 p.m. Cost is $38.95 for adults and $16.50 for kids 12 and under. Entrée choices are roast Tom turkey with chestnut sage stuffing and fresh cranberry sauce; roast sirloin with mushroom sauce; Virginia baked ham with Hawaiian sauce; grilled salmon filet with Café de Paris butter; and fresh cheese tortellini with basil cream sauce. Mashed potatoes and vegetables accompany all entrees except the tortellini.

223 17th St., Pacific Grove, 831-372-3456.

 

The Portola Hotel and Spa is serving a Thanksgiving buffet from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in its grand ballroom. Selections include California cheeses and cured meats; peel and eat shrimp; carved to order turkey, prime rib and maple glazed country ham; candied garnet yams; Coke Farm beets with feta, pancetta, Marcona almonds and cider vinaigrette; and acorn squash with pomegranate and pumpkin seeds. Desserts will include pecan and pumpkin pie and holiday cookies. Cost is $54.95 for adults, $39.95 for seniors 65 and up, and $25.95 for kids 6-12. There will be live music by pianist David Conley in the ballroom from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. and football games will be showing in the foyer.

Two Portola Plaza, Monterey, 831-649-7874

 

Pacific’s Edge at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands will serve a four-course dinner on Thanksgiving with seatings from 3 to 8 p.m. Cost is $95. Selections include butternut squash soup with Frangelico, brown butter and pepitas; roasted beets with buttermilk mousse, pomegranate seeds, wild arugula and pistachio; and Pacific halibut with mussels, clams, heirloom chile bouillabaisse, saffron rouille and foccacia bread stick.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands, 120 Highlands Dr., Carmel, 831-622-5445

 

Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel is serving a prix fixe meal on Thanksgiving, with seatings from 2 to 9 p.m. Cost is $150 per person with optional wine pairings for $110. Selections include white truffles from Alba with carnaroli risotto ($85 supplement); slow-roasted organic turkey; and 21-day dry aged ribeye.

Monte Verde Street and Seventh Avenue, Carmel, 831-624-8578.

 

The C at Intercontinental The Clement Monterey is serving lunch and dinner on Thanksgiving. Lunch is 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and there will be a la carte Thanksgiving dishes in addition to the regular lunch menu. Selections include Diestel Farms turkey with Yukon potato puree and sage-brioche stuffing. A prix fixe three-course dinner, from 5:30 to 10 p.m., costs $85 or $125 with wine pairings. Kids 5-12 cost $45. Choices include persimmon salad with Humboldt Fog, candied pecans and pomegranate vinaigrette; matsutake and sweetbreads with parsnip puree and truffle vinaigrette; Niman Ranch natural ribeye with salsify, chanterelle, creamed spinach and sauce bordelaise; and pumpkin upside down cake. There will be live music from noon to 3 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. In the evening, a bar menu will be available for bar and patio seating only.

750 Cannery Row, Monterey, 831-375-4800

 

Sardine Factory is serving a four-course prix fixe menu on Thanksgiving. Seatings are available between 1 and 8 p.m. The menu includes a first course of butternut squash bisque with toasted pumpkin seeds and maple Chantilly crème and an entrée of all-natural Diestel turkey with sage dressing, pan gravy, cranberry orange relish, Yukon gold and sweet potato gratin, fresh green beans and buttered baby carrots. The menu costs $49.75 for adults, $47.75 for 65 and older, $25 for kids 6 to 12. It’s free for kids five and under. A limited a la carte menu and the regular kids’ menu will also be available.

701 Wave St., Monterey, (831) 373-3775

 

Andre’s Bouchee is serving a three-course prix fixe menu from 2 to 8:30 p.m. Three appetizer choices include Redwood Farm goat cheese salad with baked cheese, baby greens and honey apple cider vinaigrette; and pumpkin soup with brown butter and cinnamon. Three entrée selections are free-range turkey stuffed with chestnuts and winter truffles with mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce; Bavette (flank) steak; and Monterey black cod with wild mushrooms and cognac reduction. Cost is $46 for adults and $21 for kids 12 and under.

Mission Street between Ocean and Seventh, Carmel, 831-626-7880

 

TusCA Ristorante at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa is serving a buffet brunch from 1 to 6 p.m. (last seating is at 5:45). Selections include pumpkin soup; seasonal salads; a carving station with roasted turkey and honey ham; a pasta station; and sides such as green bean casserole and glazed yams with marshmallow gratin. Cost is $55 for adults, $25 for children ages 6-12 and free for kids 5 and under. The price includes one glass of champagne for adults over age 21, or sparkling cider. There will be live jazz from 3 to 7 p.m.

1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey, 831-657-6675

 

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Wednesday wine discounts and more at Shadowbrook

Festive Capitola restaurant Shadowbrook. Photo credit: Shadowbrook web site

Festive Capitola restaurant Shadowbrook
Photo credit: Shadowbrook web site

The restaurant Shadowbrook offers great discounts and a chance to meet local winemakers on Winemaker Wednesdays, which occur most weeks through May 2017.

 

Every Wednesday a different wine is featured, and customers can meet the selected winemaker from 5-8pm. At this time, a flight of three to four wines from that winery is served in the Rock Room (bar area) and people can enjoy complimentary small bites with their flight. Additionally, a 50% discount is offered throughout the restaurant for glasses and bottles of wine from the featured winery. Although the winemaker is only available through 8 p.m. in the bar area, the complimentary appetizers and half-off wine pricing are available the entire evening.

 

The next winery and winemaker making guest appearances are Alfaro Family Vineyards and Richard Alfaro on Nov. 23. As a special bonus, for any Shadowbrook customers who purchase a bottle of Alfaro wine that night (either to enjoy with dinner or to take home), Richard Alfaro is providing a free wine tasting certificate that’s valid for a future visit to his Corralitos tasting room.

 

Other wineries making appearances in the near future include Naumann (Nov. 30), Roudon-Smith (Dec. 7), and Muns Vineyard (Dec. 14). Because of the holiday season, there are no Winemaker Wednesdays on Dec. 21 or Dec. 28.

 

Winemaker Wednesdays began in October, and Shadowbrook has several other promotions going on through the spring. These include two that started earlier this month:

Prime Rib Mondays—Shadowbrook’s house specialty is available for only $18.95 in the Dining Room. Includes creamed spinach, buttermilk mashed potatoes and horseradish cream

Seafood Night Thursdays—Order any seafood item on the menu for $18.95. I’ve truly savored the seafood I’ve had at Shadowbrook in the past, including scallops and salmon, and this is reminding me that I’m due for a seafood visit soon!

 

Both specials will be offered through February, and are not valid on holidays.

Learn more about these and other delicious offers at shadowbrook-capitola.com/promotions/.

 

The Details:

Shadowbrook Restaurant, 1750 Wharf Road, Capitola (831) 475-1511

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Santa Cruz restaurant Assembly announces new executive chef Jessica Yarr

Jessica Yarr is now executive chef at Assembly Photo credit: Carolyn Kelley

Jessica Yarr is now executive chef at Assembly
Photo credit: Carolyn Kelley

Beginning this week, Jessica Yarr is Executive Chef at downtown Santa Cruz restaurant Assembly (1108 Pacific Ave., 831-824-6100).

 

For the last few months, Yarr has been collaborating with The Glass Jar, the restaurant group founded by Kendra Baker and Zachary Davis, on a number of events and projects. These included the Meander San Lorenzo River Dinner, Assembly’s participation in the Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market pop-up breakfast series this summer, Assembly’s participation in the Big Sur Food and Wine Festival a few days ago, plus the pastry chef direction of The Penny Ice Creamery.

 

Santa Cruz Weekly named Yarr “Best Pastry Chef of Santa Cruz” in 2010. She has been serving as pastry chef at The Glass Jar since departing as Head Chef of Mint in Scotts Valley earlier this year. A graduate of Portland, Oregon-based Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Yarr’s goal at Assembly is to continue building a sense of community utilizing elements including passion and attention to detail.

 

“I will strive to create a menu that tells the story of Santa Cruz and Central California,” says Yarr. “Ultimately, we are here to nourish ourselves and our community.”

 

Yarr will be working with Assembly’s Sous Chef Trent Lindgren, who has been directing the kitchen at Assembly since previous Executive Chef Carlo Espinas returned to San Francisco earlier this year.

Davis and Baker are thrilled to welcome Yarr to this new role. “With Jessica’s help we are trying to stand on the shoulders of giants,” says Davis. “Theo’s, Gabriella Cafe, Jessica has worked integrally at the well-loved restaurants that are foundational to the best of Santa Cruz dining.”

 

 

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Manresa Bread in Los Gatos now ships nationwide

Manresa Bread now ships across the U.S. Photo credit: Manresa Bread

Manresa Bread now ships across the U.S.
Photo credit: Manresa Bread

Fans of Los Gatos-based Manresa Bread who live outside the Bay Area are now in luck: starting Nov. 22—just in time for Thanksgiving—the bakery will ship its artisan bread anywhere in the Continental U.S. The web site manresabread.com is already accepting orders.

In addition to bread, customers can order items like coffee from Santa Cruz’s Verve Coffee Roasters  (served at both retail locations, Los Gatos and Los Altos) plus granola and limited edition Manresa Bread coffee mugs. Orders are baked fresh, packed, and shipped on Tuesday of each week to arrive at people’s homes via 2-day, or less, shipping. Deliveries include information on how to store and rewarm the bread so guests can enjoy the product as if they picked it up that day from the bakery.

Manresa Bread was conceived by Head Baker and Partner Avery Ruzicka in the kitchen of Chef David Kinch’s three Michelin-star Manresa restaurant. Using high quality, artisanal products, a carefully selected variety of produce and dairy are mixed with house-milled grains, salt, and water to create an assortment of naturally fermented sourdough breads.

“We started with a small stand at our local farmer’s market and as we’ve continued to evolve we’ve realized there’s a demand for our breads on a national level,” says Ruzicka. “We tested a lot of options and this shipment method is the best way for us to ensure that the quality is preserved while it’s en route to our customers who can’t visit in-person.”
All orders ship on Tuesday of each week and include the customer’s choice of four loaves of bread ($40, not including shipping). Here are some bread highlights:

Manresa Levain
Organic white and edison flour. 90% hydration. 3% salt. Naturally fermented

Pumpernickel Buckwheat Rye
House-milled pumpernickel meal, fermented rye berries, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, toasted buckwheat. Naturally fermented

Fruit & Nut Loaf
Organic bread / hard red spring / edison / durum flours. Dates, pumpkin seeds, walnuts.
Naturally fermented

Whole Wheat
House-milled einkorn, hard red spring, edison wheats. Pinch of organic white flour.
Naturally fermented

Pullman Loaf
Organic White Flour. Fresh Yeast.

See manresabread.com for more information.

Retail shops:

Flagship Los Gatos location: 276 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos, 408-402-5372

Second location, Palo Alto: 271 State Street, Palo Alto, 650-946-2293

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Hula’s celebrates 10th anniversary with gift certificate giveaways, discount food and drinks

Hula’s is offering a discount burger combo during its anniversary month Photo credit: Hula's

Hula’s is offering a discount burger combo during its anniversary month
Photo credit: Hula’s

Downtown Santa Cruz restaurant Hula’s Island Grill and Tiki Room is celebrating its 10th birthday with gifts for the local community all month long and special promos on November 16, 2016.

 

Until Nov. 30, customers can order $10 Hula Burger combos—that’s a burger plus fries and a soda—any time of day, for lunch, dinner or somewhere in between. Hula’s is open for lunch Tuesday- Sunday from 11:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m., dinner nightly from 4:00 p.m.–close, and of course there’s always happy hour with daily specials (Tuesday–Sunday 2-6 p.m., Monday 4:30–6).

 

On Wednesday, Nov. 16, all day long, Hula’s is serving up special discounts:

  • Tiki Drinks 2/$10 – a couple popular ones are “Dr. Funk” (includes rum, pineapple and coconut) and Mai Tais
  • Pupus 2/$10 – choose from dishes like crispy coconut shrimp rolls or Hawaiian ceviche with whitefish, coconut milk, chili, cilantro and garlic
  • The first 10 customers will receive a $10 gift certificate
  • The 100th lunch customer will win a $100 gift certificate
  • The 100th dinner customer will win a $100 gift certificate

 

Personally, I am a big fan of family-owned and operated Hula’s. I’ve found over the years that their diverse menu appeals to generations of my family, and I enjoy dishes infused with Asian, Latin and Caribbean flavors.

 

In case you want to start holiday shopping early, Hula’s is doing a gift certificate promotion until Dec. 23. If you buy a $50 certificate, you receive a $10 gc to keep for yourself. If you buy a $100 gc, you get a $20 gc to treat yourself!

 

Location: 221 Cathcart St., Santa Cruz, 831-426-HULA

 

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Santa Cruz Restaurant Week continues: highlights from Hula’s and Chaminade

Baby Beet Salad with pomegranate seeds and goat feta crumbles is one of Chaminade’s appetizers for Santa Cruz Restaurant Week 2016

Baby Beet Salad with pomegranate seeds and goat feta crumbles is one of Chaminade’s appetizers for Santa Cruz Restaurant Week 2016

Santa Cruz Restaurant Week, which continues through Wednesday, Oct. 19, includes nearly 40 restaurants such as Hula’s and Linwood’s at Chaminade Resort and Spa.

 

Restaurants offer three-course prix fixe dinners for $25 or $35 during Restaurant Week, and also continue to serve regular menus during this time. Read details about Assembly’s menu selections and inspiration in my article from yesterday.

 

Hula’s Island Grill (221 Cathcart St., 831-426-HULA) is serving a three-course $25 menu. Appetizer choices include crispy coconut shrimp rolls with pineapple and horseradish dipping sauce; and Hawaiian ceviche with whitefish, coconut milk, chili, cilantro and garlic. Desserts include Hula pie with macadamia nut ice cream, Oreo crust, hot fudge and house-made whipped cream.

 

Hollis Ferguson, general manager of Hula’s in Santa Cruz, commented on why Hula’s is a longtime Santa Cruz Restaurant Week participant: “It’s fun to be part of a community wide event that encourages people to take a night off and go out to eat, try new restaurants they haven’t before and/or a dish they might not have tried before.”

 

Ferguson says that the Kalbi Ribs, an entrée on the Restaurant Week menu this year, are a good classic Hawaiian dish, plate lunch style (they’re served with macaroni salad and rice). “Our Lemongrass Hapu is more exotic and showcases flavors of Thailand and Polynesia,” she adds. Customers can also substitute tofu for the Hapu (which is Hawaiian sea bass); both versions include lime-ginger-cream sauce, rice and slaw.

 

Executive chef Nick Church, from Linwood’s at the Chaminade (One Chaminade Lane, 831-475-5600), has created a $35 menu that includes seasonal ingredients such as squash, apples and sweet potatoes. Appetizers include roasted butternut soup with spicy apple relish and toasted pumpkin seeds; and baby beet salad with frisee and escarole, vanilla vinaigrette, pomegranate seeds and goat feta crumbles. Entrée choices are grass-fed grilled NY steak with wild mushroom ragout, sweet potato gratin, grilled asparagus and roasted baby carrots; grilled pork chop with Calvados demi, apple puree, smashed fingerling potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts; and pan-seared local halibut with heirloom tomato relish, farro and Dungeness crab risotto plus wilted greens and sauteed baby vegetables. Desserts include persimmon crisp with lavender ice cream.

Even though it just started two days ago, Church is already enjoying Restaurant Week. “We love seeing all of the locals come up to the property while experiencing Linwood’s and hearing all of the their favorite Chaminade stories,” Church said. “There is so much history and so many fun and personal memories people have, it’s refreshing to hear the positive feedback during Restaurant Week.”

Restaurants participating in SCRW, in alphabetical order:

  • 515 Kitchen & Cocktails
  • Aquarius at the Dream Inn
  • Assembly
  • Back Nine Grill & Bar
  • Café Mare
  • Chocolate
  • Crow’s Nest
  • El Jardin
  • Gabriella Café
  • Hindquarter Bar & Grill
  • Hoffman’s Bistro & Patisserie
  • Hollins House at Pasatiempo
  • Hula’s Island Grill
  • Ideal Bar & Grill
  • Johnny’s Harborside
  • Kianti’s Pizza & Pasta Bar
  • Laili
  • Linwood’s at Chaminade Resort
  • Margaritaville
  • Michael’s on Main
  • Mozaic
  • Pearl of the Ocean
  • Red Restaurant & Bar
  • Ristorante Italiano
  • Rosie McCann’s
  • Sanderlings at Seascape Resort
  • Severino’s Bar & Grill
  • Soif
  • Solaire
  • Splash!
  • Stonehouse Bar & Grill at the Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley
  • Süda
  • The Cremer House
  • The Point Chophouse & Lounge
  • The Water St. Grill
  • Tyrolean Inn
  • Your Place
  • Zelda’s On The Beach

For more information and full menus, visit the event web site at santacruzrestaurantweek.com.

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Santa Cruz Restaurant Week started yesterday and includes restaurant Assembly

“Fresh off the boat” seafood stew is one of Assembly’s three prix fixe entrée choices for Santa Cruz Restaurant Week 2016

“Fresh off the boat” seafood stew is one of Assembly’s prix fixe entrée choices for Santa Cruz Restaurant Week 2016

Santa Cruz Restaurant Week started yesterday, and continues through Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. Downtown Santa Cruz restaurant Assembly (1108 Pacific Ave., 831-824-6100) is one of the nearly 40 participants from across the county that have created special three-course prix fixe dinners that cost $25 or $35 depending on the venue. These SCRW menus typically include three options for each course: appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Customers choose one selection from each course.

 

For its $35 special menu, one of Assembly’s “starter” selection choices is Kabocha squash soup with brown butter sautéed apples, crème fraiche and fried sage. When chef/owner Kendra Baker owner Zach Davis were planning the menu, Baker was thrilled to see that Route One Farms’ Kabocha squash would be here in time for Restaurant Week. “I love sharing my favorites of the season,” said Baker. “These Japanese Pumpkins have a lovely chestnut-like sweetness and make the most velvety soup.”

 

Two of Assembly’s SCRW entrée selections are seafood stew and braised chicken leg. The stew, described as “fresh off the boat,” is served with potatoes, chard, zucchini, creamy polenta and a tomato-saffron broth. “As the seasons are changing my taste buds were longing for a soul-satisfying brothy seafood dish,” said Baker. “Working on developing this stew I envisioned the earthy notes of tomatoes with the saffron, oils of lemon zest, fennel and white wine being the perfect partners for the bounty of seafood we have available to us.”

 

The chicken entrée includes caramelized leeks, brussel sprouts, gigante beans and fried bread with a lemon butter caper sauce. There’s also a vegetarian option available. “Developing the braised chicken recipe for restaurant week, I had my father’s newfound love for capers at the age of 63 in mind,” said Baker. “He never ceases to surprise me. For the better part of my life I have known him as the iceberg lettuce and garbanzo bean salad with blue cheese dressing kind of guy.”

 

Baker’s partner Davis also has a new caper fan in his family. “My daughter discovered capers a couple days ago at the age of two and loves them,” said Davis. “I’m very excited to have her try this dish!”

 

Dessert choices for the SCRW menu include caramelized apple pie with brown sugar oat streusel and whiskey custard ice cream, and Penny Ice Creamery sorbet trio. Baker and Davis operate The Penny Ice Creamery, Picnic Basket and POPUP in addition to Assembly. In fact, a couple weeks ago they started offering some of their Picnic Basket selections at POPUP (a small storefront connected to Assembly at 1108 Pacific). These include sandwiches and cookies and are available Monday-Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

I will post a few more SCRW highlights in the next couple days.

 

Restaurants that are participating in SCRW, in alphabetical order:

  • 515 Kitchen & Cocktails
  • Aquarius at the Dream Inn
  • Assembly
  • Back Nine Grill & Bar
  • Café Mare
  • Chocolate
  • Crow’s Nest
  • El Jardin
  • Gabriella Café
  • Hindquarter Bar & Grill
  • Hoffman’s Bistro & Patisserie
  • Hollins House at Pasatiempo
  • Hula’s Island Grill
  • Ideal Bar & Grill
  • Johnny’s Harborside
  • Kianti’s Pizza & Pasta Bar
  • Laili
  • Linwood’s at Chaminade Resort
  • Margaritaville
  • Michael’s on Main
  • Mozaic
  • Pearl of the Ocean
  • Red Restaurant & Bar
  • Ristorante Italiano
  • Rosie McCann’s
  • Sanderlings at Seascape Resort
  • Severino’s Bar & Grill
  • Soif
  • Solaire
  • Splash!
  • Stonehouse Bar & Grill at the Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley
  • Süda
  • The Cremer House
  • The Point Chophouse & Lounge
  • The Water St. Grill
  • Tyrolean Inn
  • Your Place
  • Zelda’s On The Beach

For more information and menus, visit the event web site at santacruzrestaurantweek.com.

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Manresa Bread in Los Gatos adds espresso bar and more bakery space

Manresa Bread recently added 200 square feet of bakery space and an espresso bar Photo credit: Stephanie McKinnie

Manresa Bread recently added 200 square feet of bakery space and an espresso bar
Photo credit: Stephanie McKinnie

Manresa Bread in Los Gatos has expanded its bakery space and added a full beverage program including an espresso bar, which is open as of Oct. 1. The new offerings feature Santa Cruz-based Verve Coffee Roasters, and include espresso drinks, fresh brewed coffee, and cold brew. Guests can also enjoy hot chocolate, Chico Chai Tea (out of Chico, California), and kefir on tap.

“Our guests have been asking for these changes for quite some time. We are excited we’re in a position now where we can expand into the adjacent space and offer an experience that’s more than just grab-and-go,” says Avery Ruzicka, Partner/Head Baker at Manresa Bread.

Inspired by the delicious success of the bread program at the three-Michelin-star restaurant Manresa, Manresa Bread opened its first retail storefront last year in Los Gatos and offers hand-crafted, small batch breads and pastries.

The retail shop stocks a rotating selection of breads and sweet and savory pastries. Weekly staples include Manresa Levain, Sourdough Baguette, Edison Whole Wheat Flax, Brioche, Monkey Bread and Croissant (Plain, Almond, Pain au Chocolat). Seasonal items include Pumpernickel Buckwheat Rye, Fruit and Nut Loaf, Polenta Cake, Tea Cakes, Quiche and Tartines.

Hours are 7 a.m.-3 p.m. daily (or earlier if they sell out). A second retail space, located in downtown Los Altos, opened in June and has the same hours.

Manresa Bread is also available at the Campbell and Palo Alto farmers’ markets on Sundays and the Portola Valley market on Thursdays. Manresa Bread pastries are featured at Verve Coffee Roasters  locations in Santa Cruz.

With the expansion, Aevan Balan joins the Manresa Bread team as Lead Barista. A Bay Area native, Aevan first learned about coffee when he started working at Yahoo!, as a Lead Barista and Mentor as a way to make ends meet while going to college. He later became a Coffee Specialist at Yahoo!, working exclusively with Verve Coffee Roasters, training directly with the Verve team.

Flagship Los Gatos location, opened 2015:

276 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos, 408-402-5372

 

Second location, Palo Alto, opened June 2016:

271 State Street, Palo Alto, 650-946-2293

 

See manresabread.com for more information.

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