Soif reopens tonight with expanded menu, new wine bar, revamped wine shop

Soif chef Mark Denham and owner Patrice Boyle in the newly renovated kitchen. Photo credit: Soif

Soif chef Mark Denham and owner Patrice Boyle in the newly renovated kitchen. Photo credit: Soif

Downtown Santa Cruz’s Soif Restaurant & Wine Bar has just finished a month-long renovation, resulting in expanded food and beverage menus plus a new wine bar and an upgraded wine shop. Soif has been closed for a few weeks, and is re-opening tonight, Friday June 19, at dinnertime.

The renovation consisted of three major elements: a new kitchen, new retail shop, and new bar area. The new kitchen, nearly double the size of the old one, features direct views into the chef’s preparation area, and includes new culinary tools such as a grill, griddle, fryer and plancha that provide Chef Mark Denham the opportunity to expand the range of dishes available to diners, including finger foods such as fritters. “I’m particularly excited to have a grill,” says Denham. “Not just because it allows us to add a classic steak or burger to the menu (which we have), but also because it allows us to utilize it with unique ingredients not normally associated with it — such as potato-ricotta gnocchi with charred broccoli di cicco pesto, walnuts & Parmesan.”

If you haven’t had a chance to eat at Soif since Chef Denham joined the restaurant last year, you’re in for a treat. His experience includes cooking at top Bay Area restaurants like Chez Panisse, Manresa, and Postrio. His seasonal menu changes almost daily. Every dish – including small plates, appetizers, entrées and desserts – focuses on sustainably grown ingredients primarily sourced from Bay Area farmers and suppliers. Dishes on the new menu include Moorish-style lamb meatballs with cumin yogurt; polenta frites (cornmeal fritters with smoked blue cheese aioli); grilled local asparagus with fried farm egg, pecorino, and mustard bread crumbs; caramelized cauliflower with fingerling potatoes and salsa verde; and Napa lamb mixed grill with spring peas, their tendrils, braised Little gem lettuces, and cipollini.

As Soif fans may recall, the retail shop was formerly in a space next door to the restaurant. Now, it’s in a completely new, larger space connected to the main dining room. This translates to a wider selection of local wines plus hard-to-find and lesser-known wines from around the world. The wine inventory emphasizes small, family-run domains that employ organic practices. There are also wine-related gift items and chilled wine bottles available to go. In the future, they hope to create a lounge area with comfy chairs, Wi-Fi, and a library of wine books, where visitors would have the ability to relax and enjoy drinking wine during the day before the restaurant opens.

Wine Director John Locke, who has done a fantastic job overseeing the wine at Soif and sister restaurant La Posta for many years, will continue in his role. Retail Operations Manager Alyssa Twelker, who collaborates with Locke on Soif’s wine programs, received her sommelier certificate from the French Culinary Institute.

What has happened to the former retail shop space, you are wondering? That is now Soif’s bar area, where customers can purchase wine, local draft beer, and wine-based cocktails (think Spanish Rebujito with yuzu juice and cucumber or Chimera with fresh pluots and aperitif wine) — plus the full dining menu during the restaurant’s normal operating hours.

The bottom line: the new Soif seems destined for a fabulous future. “Great restaurants know when it’s time to mix things up a bit, and that’s exactly what we’ve done at Soif,” said Proprietor Patrice Boyle. “We’re so pleased to offer more variety in our dining and beverage menus for our loyal customers, and we hope, of course, that we meet new customers as a result.”

Details: Soif, 105 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz
(831) 423-2020

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