Tag Archives: Oswald

“Dining in” at Santa Cruz County restaurants, June 19, 2020

Bacon & egg croissant from Gayle’s Bakery & Rosticerria
Photo courtesy of Gayle’s

So much has changed since my last article at the end of May, with restaurants now being allowed to open for dine-in service if they follow restrictions and social distancing guidelines. Here are some highlights of places that are open for onsite dining, whether that’s on an outdoor patio, in a dining room with limited seating, or both. Many of them are also still doing food to-go. I will try to publish an update in a few days.

Most of these are “listings only” but first, I wanted to share more details for a few local businesses:

Seabright Social, in the former location of Seabright Brewery (519 Seabright Ave., seabrightsocial.com) opened June 12 and features lots of outdoor seating plus some indoor seating. Hours are 11:30am-11:30pm daily (closed on June 22 for one day only). Reservations are recommended at 831-426-2739. After buying the brewpub and restaurant in 2019, local residents/co-owners Jason and Keiki McKay (who run Aptos-based Cantine Winepub in Aptos) and Jon Bates have done renovations to the building and the menu. Food includes salmon ceviche and a street taco trio with chicken mole, pork carnitas, and beef asada. Drinks include several Seabright Brewery draft beers, local wine, and a full bar.

Scrumptious Fish & Chips recently restarted its popups. Upcoming appearances include Steel Bonnet Brewery in Scotts Valley (5-8 p.m. on several Friday nights), the Scotts Valley (Saturday) and Live Oak (Sunday) farmers markets, and Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing in Westside SC. Visit https://www.scrumptiousfc.com/find-us for complete schedule.

The Palm Deli has its patio open again, with tables spaced appropriately, at 3000 Valencia Ave. They have returned to regular hours, opening at 7am every day, closing at 6pm weekdays and 5pm Sat-Sun. Visit https://www.thepalmdeli.com.

Hula’s Island Grill at 221 Cathcart St. offers the choice of dining indoors or on the lanai deck out front (takeout is also still available). They open at 2pm every day, and close at 8pm Sun-Thurs and 9pm Fri-Sat. Visit https://www.hulastiki.com/

Gayle’s Bakery at 504 Bay Ave. has newly extended hours of 7am-7pm daily and is now allowing socially distanced sit-down dining. Also, with online orders there is now next-day pick up (shorter wait time—when they first reopened, it was a two-day wait). Visit https://www.gaylesbakery.com.

May’s Sushi closed its 1800 Soquel Ave. location on June 1, and is now operating out of Sesame Korean Grill at 435 Front St. Both cuisines are still available, as the restaurants have the same owners. In addition, the owners announced they will be opening a new restaurant called Crazy Crab, adjacent to Sesame, which will feature seafood boils. Visit https://www.sesame-koreangrill.com/ or call 831-454-8355.

Vim at 2238 Mission St. reopened its dining room and patio on June 17, and it’s open 5-8pm Wednesday-Saturday and 10 am-1pm Sunday (Vim started doing Sunday brunch during shelter in place, and it was popular so they’re continuing now that they’re open for onsite dining). Visit https://www.vimsantacruz.com.

Mentone at 174 Aptos Village Way now offers first-come-first-serve tables outside in the parking lot on the weekend, from 3:30-7pm Fridays and 12-6ish Saturdays and Sundays. There is beer, wine, cocktails, pizzas, salad, and a variety of snacks.  Takeout pizza is available Wednesdays and Thursdays. Visit https://www.mentonerestaurant.com or call 831-708-1174.

Madrone Kitchen, a meal delivery business from chefs Reeny Marquez and Sean Adams, is doing Friday popups at Aldo’s (790 Mariner Park Way) from 5 p.m. to sellout. They sell food items while Aldo’s offers beer, wine and cocktails for sale.  Sample popup menu offerings include Mojo Shrimp Skewers with citrus garlic herb sauce, Cuban-style black beans, rice, and fried plantains. Madrone Kitchen also does weekly Sunday dinner delivery. Visit madronekitchen.com.

Although not yet open for “dining in,” Soif Restaurant and Wine Shop (831-423-2020, http://www.soifwine.com/) now has curbside pickup for food and wine from 4-8 pm  Wednesday-Saturday. They had stopped doing takeout in early April. Also, the May/June issue of California Bountiful, the magazine for the California Farm Bureau Federation, featured an article about Soif’s executive Chef Tom McNary with several recipes. Sister restaurant La Posta (831-457-2782, https://www.lapostarestaurant.com), formerly open Friday-Sunday, is doing pickup 4-8pm Thursday through Sunday. Also, there is a Thursday special: pizza or pasta with salad for one person, for $20.

Colectivo Felix now offers delivery Friday through Sunday to local residents (formerly only Fri-Sat). Empanadas are available by the half dozen or dozen, and they create a rotating variety of salads, soups, and desserts. Also, customers can now order a seasonal Ridge to Reef Organics produce box. Visit https://colectivofelix.square.site/ to order, or email info@colectivofelix.com with questions.

As always, please email tara@santacruzfoodie.com if you have information to share, or corrections, for future articles.

Open for “dine-in” service

Alderwood (831-588-3238 or 831-888-6901, https://www.alderwoodsantacruz.com)

Auntie Mame’s Café (831-438-1840, https://auntiemamescafe.co)

Belly Goat Craft Burgers (at Abbott Square Market on Front St., https://www.bellygoatburgers.com)

Bittersweet Bistro (831-662-9799, http://bittersweetbistro.com)

Blaze Pizza (831-607-2030, https://www.blazepizza.com)

Blue Bunny Tacos (at Abbott Square Market, https://www.instagram.com/bluebunnytacos)

Britannia Arms (831-464-2683, https://www.facebook.com/britanniaarmscapitola/)

Café Iveta (Westside and campus locations, iveta.com)

Café Mare (831-458-1212, http://www.cafemare.com)

Café Rio (831-688-8917, https://www.caferioaptos.com)

California Grill (831-722-8052, www.californiagrillrestaurant.com)

Chaminade’s “The View, A Treeside Restaurant” (831-475-5600, www.chaminade.com/santa_cruz_restaurants)

Chocolate (831-427-9900, https://chocolatesantacruz.com)

Coffeetopia (http://www.coffeetopia.com)

The Crepe Place (831-429-6994, https://thecrepeplace.com)

The Crow’s Nest (831-476-4560, https://crowsnest-santacruz.com)

Daisuki Octagon Sushi (831-316-5464, at Octagon by Abbott Square, http://daisukioctagonsushi.com/)

Dharma’s (831-462-1717, www.dharmasrestaurant.com)

East End Gastropub (831-475-8010, http://eastendpub.com/)

El Jardín (831-477-9384, https://www.eljardinrestaurant.net/)

El Palomar (831-425-7575, https://elpalomarsantacruz.com)

The Farm House (831-536-5363, https://www.farmhousewatsonville.com)

Firefish Grill (831-423-5200, http://www.firefishgrill.net/)

Gabriella Café (831-457-1677, http://gabriellacafe.com)

Holy Smokes Country BBQ (831-471-8787, https://www.holysmokescountrybbqandcatering.com)

HOME Soquel (831-431-6131, http://www.homesoquel.com)

Hula’s Island Grill (831-426-4852, https://www.hulastiki.com)

Jalisco’s (https://www.jaliscorestaurant.com)

Jeffery’s Restaurant (831-425-1485, https://www.facebook.com/Jefferys-Restaurant-2348536278713065/)

Kianti’s Pizza & Pasta Bar (831-469-4400, https://www.kiantis.com/)

The Kitchen at Discretion (831-316-0662, https://www.discretionbrewing.com)

Lago di Como (831-454-8257, http://lagodicomoristorante.com/)

Laili Resaturant (831-423-4545, www.lailirestaurant.com)

Lillian’s Italian Kitchen (831-425-2288, https://www.lilliansitaliankitchen.com)

Michael’s on Main (831-479-9777, www.michaelsonmain.com)

Mission Hill Creamery (831-508-0774, http://missionhillcreamery.com)

Mutari Chocolate (http://www.mutarichocolate.com)

Oasis Tasting Room & Kitchen (831-621-8040, oasissantacruz.com)

Olive Garden (831-462-0120, https://www.olivegarden.com)

Oswald (831-423-7427, http://www.oswaldrestaurant.com)

Oyunaa’s Mongolian Cuisine (831-469-9900, http://www.oyunaas.com)

Palm Deli (831-688-3354, https://www.thepalmdeli.com)

Pizza My Heart (https://www.pizzamyheart.com)

Pizzeria La Bufala (831-999-0301, at Abbott Square Market, https://www.pizzerialabufala.com)

Pleasure Pizza—East Side Eatery (831-6058, https://www.pleasurepizzasc.com)

Pono Hawaiian Kitchen & Tap (831-476-7458, ponohawaiiangrill.com)

Rosie McCann’s (831-426-9930, https://rosiemccanns.com/santacruz)

Roux Dat (at Octagon by Abbott Square, https://rouxdatcajuncreole.com)

Sanderlings at Seascape Resort (831-662-7120, https://www.sanderlingsrestaurant.com/menus)

Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing (831-425-4900, https://www.scmbrew.com)

Scopazzi’s (831-338-6441, www.scopazzisrestaurant.com)

Tortilla Flats (831-476-1754, https://www.tortillaflatstogo.com)

Tramonti (831-426-7248, http://tramontisantacruz.com)

Veg on the Edge (831-423-3000, at Abbott Square Market, https://vegontheedge.com)

Vino Locale Wine Bar & Tapas (https://www.vinolocalesantacruz.com)

Vinocruz Winebar & Kitchen (https://vinocruz.com, 831-426-8466)

Woodies Café (https://www.facebook.com/woodiescafeca).

Woodstock’s Pizza (831-427-4444, https://woodstockscruz.com)

Zachary’s (831-427-0646, http://www.zacharyssantacruz.com)

Zelda’s (831-475-4900, http://zeldasonthebeach.com)

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Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

Eat soup Thursday & help Santa Cruz’s Homeless Services Center

A scene from the 2017 Soupline Supper (courtesy of Soupline web site)

Santa Cruz’s Homeless Services Center (HSC) invites the community to eat unlimited soup from dozens of local restaurants, caterers, and other food businesses from 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at the Cocoanut Grove.


The 19th annual Soupline Supper assists HSC as it helps families and individuals in our community find safe, permanent homes. Last year’s dinner helped 249 people find a permanent home. For $50 per person, attendees receive soup, salad, bread, and dessert. Wine is available for an additional donation. Kids’ tickets are $20. Buy tickets online.


Participating restaurants in 2018’s Soupline include 99 Bottles, Assembly, The Bagelry, Café Cruz, Erik’s Deli, Gabriella Café, India Joze, Kelly’s French Bakery, La Posta, Manuel’s, Oswald, Shadowbrook, Soif, and Walnut Ave Café. See full restaurant list at souplinesupper.org/restaurants.


The usual set-up is this: there are different tables around the perimeter of the room, all with large containers of homemade soup, with about a dozen available at any one time (selections rotate throughout the evening). Attendees walk around and choose which ones to sample. Public officials and other community leaders serve the soup. This year’s “Celebrity Ladlers” include local politicians Mark Stone, Richelle Noroyan, Cynthia Chase, Zach Friend, Ryan Coonerty, and John Leopold; and arts and community organization leaders such as Keisha Frost (United Way), Nan Mickiewicz (Dominican Hospital), Susan Nemitz (SC Public Library), Susan True (Community Foundation SC County) and Nina Simon (MAH).


Buy tickets and read more information online at souplinesupper.org.

Free parking after 4 pm is available at the Boardwalk lot across from the Cocoanut Grove.

HSC is a non-profit organization that partners with individuals and families to create pathways out of their homelessness into permanent housing. HSC’s vision is that homelessness in Santa Cruz County should be rare, brief, and non-recurring.

Event location: Cocoanut Grove, 400 Beach St., Santa Cruz

Follow me on:

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Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer




Santa Cruz & Capitola restaurant news, Part 1 of 2

Food from Lawmen Ramen at POPUP Photo credit: POPUP Facebook page

Food from Lawmen Ramen at POPUP
Photo credit: POPUP Facebook page

Here is some restaurant news for Santa Cruz and other local areas. I’ll be publishing part two in the next few days. I also wanted to remind folks: if you have any food/restaurant/wine/culinary event news to share, please email me at tfatemi@gmail.com.

The Artbar & Cafe
at the Tannery Arts Center has reopened with a new chef and new menu after a period of closure, restructuring and renovations. The bar serves beer, wine, and cocktails. Food selections prepared by chef Antonette Wood of SwingTime Catering include soups, salads and scones. Earlier this month, the menu featured beef barley soup with fresh spinach; butternut apple goat cheese soup; gouda and chive scones; and mac and cheese. Cocktails included Gimlet Da Vinci (ingredients include rosemary and vanilla) and Woolf’s Moon (vodka, fresh raspberries, Nigori, lemon). Hours are Mon-Thurs from 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. and Fri-Sat from 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. The location is 1060 River St., (831) 234-5356.

Gyros & Grill Express at the food court of the Capitola Mall is now open. Their mostly-Mediterranean menu includes selections such as falafel, hummus, Greek salad, chicken gyros, beef gyros, koobideh kabob, and burgers. Sides and accompaniments include garlic sauce and French fries. There are several wraps and platters to choose from, and many of the platters include rice and salad. Hours are 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. daily. The location is 1855 41st Ave., (831) 477-0777.

Pho 831 is a new Santa Cruz popup. It had its first appearance Feb. 12 at the winery Sones Cellars and announced that its second popup will be Saturday, March 5 at 6pm, also at Sones Cellars. This time, customers can order food to go or eat on-site. FYI, people under 21 years of age are welcome. Pho 831 will be serving two versions of pho: 1) beef, and 2) vegan mushroom. Event organizers say that both broths are made “with Chef Shane’s medley of flavors inspired by traditional pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) including ginger, star anise, and lemon grass.” Food will be sold until 8:30 p.m. or sellout, whichever comes first. In addition to pho, there will be spring rolls available from Pho 831 plus wine by the glass and bottle, nonalcoholic drinks and water from Sones. The location is at Swift St. Courtyard, 334 Ingalls St. Suite B.

East Cliff Brewing Co. is open for business in the East Cliff Shopping Center, in a storefront next to Dollar Tree. They specialize in English-style ales and current beers include Burton’s Bounty (IPA), Black Point (Porter) and The Gypsy (Irish stout). Hours: Friday 4-9 p.m., Saturday noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The brewery just opened Feb. 19 and plans to expand hours in the future. Location: 21517 East Cliff Drive, (831) 713-5540.

Lawman Ramen from chef Amy Ajas is a weekly Friday lunch popup at POPUP. Ajas has great cred — her day job is working as a line cook at Assembly right next door and she formerly worked at a Bay Area ramen eatery. Up until recently, the popup featured two choices–a Tonkotsu bowl with pork belly and a vegetarian bowl; now Ajas has added vegan ramen with a savory mushroom broth and buckwheat noodles to the regular lunch service. Bring your own bowl for a $1 discount. Hours are Fridays 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. POPUP is at 1108 Pacific Ave.

Oswald is now open for lunch Friday through Sunday; it used to only serve lunch Fridays. In addition, the restaurant features a new cocktail hour 4:30-6 Tues-Sat in the bar and lounge. The lunch menu features many new dishes. Chef Damani Thomas says his favorite current lunch item is a sautéed spinach and farro dish; customers can order as-is or add a chicken breast, Arctic char, or fried egg. The bar menu includes Caesar salad, soup (recent varieties have included Fuyu persimmon-squash or mushroom with crème fraiche and scallions), a cheese plate with fruit/nuts/baguette, and a bleu cheese burger and fries. Oswald is at 121 Soquel Ave., (831) 423-7427.

Follow me on Twitter @santacruzfoodie.

Santa Cruz Restaurant Week Oct. 2-9 offers $25 3-course dinners

Food at Severino's in Aptos, one of more than 30 participants in Santa Cruz Restaurant Week 2013. Photo courtesy of SCRW Facebook page

Food at Severino’s in Aptos, one of more than 30 participants in Santa Cruz Restaurant Week 2013. Photo courtesy of SCRW Facebook page

Foodie alert: it’s time for the fifth annual Santa Cruz Restaurant Week where more than 30 local restaurants – from Aptos, Soquel and Capitola to Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Ben Lomond, and Felton – serve three-course gourmet dinners for only $25. And you can win a free Santa Cruz Restaurant Week dinner through my web site! Read end of article for details.
Special menus are offered Oct. 2-9, 2013,  and typically include three options for each course: appetizer, entrée, and dessert. Customers choose one selection from each course.

The 2012 Restaurant Week was very popular and a lot of fun for those of us who participated as customers! Restaurant reservations are recommended but not required.
I will post a few menus and at least one review in the next few days.

Restaurants that are participating, in alphabetical order:
• Aquarius at the Dream Inn
• Booka
• Café Rio
• Center Street Grill
• Chocolate
• The Crow’s Nest
• El Palomar
• Gabriella Café
• Hindquarter Bar & Grill
• Hoffman’s Bistro & Patisserie
• Hula’s Island Grill
• Ideal Bar & Grill
• Johnny’s Harborside
• La Posta
• Laili
• Linwood’s at Chaminade Resort
• Louie’s Cajun Kitchen & Bourbon Bar
• Main Street Garden & Café
• Michael’s on Main
• Oak Tree Ristorante
• Oswald
• Pearl of the Ocean
• Red Restaurant & Bar
• Ristorante Italiano
• Sanderlings at Seascape Resort
• Severino’s Bar & Grill
• Soif
• Stonehouse Bar & Grill at the Hilton Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley
• Süda
• The Point Chophouse & Lounge
• Tyrolean Inn & Restaurant
• Zelda’s On The Beach
• 515 Kitchen & Cocktails
For more information, visit the event web site.

This contest is open to readers of examiner.com and santacruzfoodie.com, but employees of Examiner.com are not eligible to enter.
PRIZE – One winner receives two $25 gift certificates for dinner at Center Street Grill during Santa Cruz Restaurant Week 2013. To enter, email your name to tfatemiwalker@yahoo.com and include the words “Santa Cruz Restaurant Week.”
Or post a comment to this article on my Facebook page and include “Santa Cruz Restaurant Week.”

Either way, the entry deadline is Thurs. Oct. 3 at 9 a.m. I will pull a name from all entries and notify the winner by email.

Center Street Grill’s 2013 Restaurant Week menu includes entrée choices of Grilled Salmon Puttanesca with capers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, mashed potatoes, and green beans, Seafood Fettucine with crab, shrimp, smoked salmon, mushrooms, and lemon cream sauce, and Grilled Pork Loin Chop with blue cheese & peaches, mashed potatoes, and asparagus.
On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Win free dinner at Santa Cruz restaurant Oswald & learn about Wed discount dinners

Halibut dinner entree on Wed May 29, 2013 at Santa Cruz restaurant Oswald

Halibut dinner entree on Wed May 29, 2013 at Santa Cruz restaurant Oswald


Downtown Santa Cruz restaurant Oswald has graciously agreed to give away a gift certificate for free Wednesday dinner for two to one of my Examiner.com or SantaCruzFoodie.com readers. See end of article for how to enter, and keep reading for more on Oswald.


The wonderful Oswald, with delicious creations by Chef Damani Thomas, has been offering special three-course prix fixe dinners on Wednesday evenings for about three years now. The dinners cost $29; guests choose one appetizer, one entrée, and one dessert. For each of the three courses, you have three selections to pick from.


I dined at Oswald on Wed. May 29 and truly enjoyed the prix fixe dinner. My appetizer was a pea soup with crème fraiche and mint and it was simply delightful: smooth, savory, and seasoned well. Other choices included sautéed prawns with coconut oil, dates, hearts of palm and citrus. For an entrée, I selected Alaskan halibut with broccoli, salsify (a root vegetable, sort of like a parsnip), and lemon-kumquat sauce, and was immensely satisfied. The fish was moist and tender, and the vegetables and sauce, with the sauce having both sweetness and tartness, provided the right contrast. Plus the dish had a gorgeous appearance, which always makes me enjoy food more (see photo above).

My dining companion chose an entrée of roasted chicken with shelling beans, snap peas, and orange reduction. He was very happy that he selected this – it was actually by default since he often eats red meat but there wasn’t any on the prix fixe menu that night. His second choice would have been fish but I’d already chosen that and he wanted to order something different. It’s not common for a restaurant to do chicken so well that you talk about it for a couple days, but that’s what Oswald did. The meat was perfectly cooked moist with crispy skin, the sauce had a great citrus flavor, and the beans successfully complemented the chicken. For dessert, the vanilla crème brulee dessert hit the spot with its creamy filling and cooked-exactly-right crisp caramelized top. In a word? Yum.


The restaurant serves dinner Tuesday-Sunday beginning at 5:30pm, and lunch on Fridays only from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Visit Oswald at 121 Soquel Avenue (at Front), Santa Cruz; call (831) 423-7427 for reservations.




Fine print: employees of Examiner.com are not eligible for this promotion

The winner will receive a gift certificate good for Wednesday prix fixe dinner for 2 at Oswald Restaurant (total value of certificate is $58). If you are the winner, please be sure tip your server!


To enter, email your name to tfatemiwalker@yahoo.com by Friday, June 21 at 5 p.m. and include the phrase “Oswald contest.” The drawing will take place later that evening; the winner will be notified via email.


On Twitter? Please follow me @santacruzfoodie.




More Valentine’s Day restaurants in Santa Cruz area and San Jose

One example of the food at Santana Row's LB Steak

One example of the food at Santana Row’s LB Steak

If you haven’t made your reservations for a special Valentine’s Day meal yet, I suggest you call immediately—and here are some more Santa Cruz area and San Jose restaurants to consider. Yesterday I posted an article on menus for Valentine’s 2013 (La Posta, Café Sparrow, Gabriella Café and Lark Creek Blue) if you need more options. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Santa Cruz & Soquel restaurant information


From Thurs. Feb. 14 through Sat. Feb. 16, the restaurant is serving a three-course prix fixe dinner for $48. Its regular menu will also be available; call (831) 460-5012 for reservations. Appetizer choices include lobster bisque with saffron, cream, and sherry. Entrée choices include Hawaiian ono with Bloomsdale spinach, fried plantains, and coconut-curry sauce, or grilled Colorado lamb loin with eggplant puree, baby fennel, oven roasted tomatoes, and marinated feta cheese. Desserts include cardamom crème brulee.

Location: 175 West Cliff (at the Santa Cruz Dream Inn), Santa Cruz

Johnny’s Harborside

This oceanfront restaurant is serving a four-course prix fixe dinner for $48; call (831) 479-3430 for reservations. Choices include starters such as Saffron Baby Clam Chowder or Warm Spinach Salad, appetizers such as Baked Oysters Rockefeller Crostini, entrees including Grilled Steelhead with potato crab croquette, braised kale, citrus crab crème, and Meyer lemon marmalade or Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs with horseradish mashed potatoes, red wine demi glace, and gorgonzola butter, and desserts such as white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake or passion fruit panna cotta with vanilla mango compote.

Location: 493 Lake Ave, Santa Cruz

Michael’s on Main

The Soquel restaurant is offering a four-course prix fixe dinner for $45 per person; seatings are at 5:30, 7:00, and 8:30 p.m. Call (831) 479-9777 for reservations. Appetizer choices include baked oysters with spinach and bacon or steamed half artichoke stuffed with creamy crab dip. Main course options include pine nut crusted salmon topped with mint hollandaise or petite filet in pomegranate sauce.

Location: 2591 Main St, Soquel


This downtown Santa Cruz restaurant is serving a three-course prix fixe dinner for $55; call (831) 423-7427 for reservations and more information.

Location: 121 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz

As of Saturday evening Feb. 9, a quick glance at Open Table revealed that the following Santa Cruz, Aptos and Felton restaurants still had availability for dinner in the 7-8 p.m. range on Valentine’s Day:

· Solaire at Hotel Paradox

· Café Mare

· El Palomar

· Hoffman’s

· Hollins House

· Oak Tree Ristorante

· Sanderlings

San Jose restaurant menus


LB Steak

LB Steak San Jose is serving its regular lunch menu and a limited a la carte dinner menu, plus a $75 4-course prix fixe dinner menu with entrée choices of “Love Me Tender” with prime beef tenderloin, goat cheese soufflé, brandy and tarragon glace de viande; “Strip Tease” with a slow roasted New York strip loin, polenta with robiola cheese, wild mushroom fricassee; or “Abrazos y Besos” with seared scallops, celery root gratin, melted leeks, and caviar beurre blanc. All female customers will receive a complimentary rose and the restaurant will be decorated with roses. Call (408) 244-1180 for reservations.

Location: 334 Santana Row, Suite 1000, San Jose

Left Bank

The restaurant is serving its the regular lunch menu and a limited regular a la carte dinner menu, plus a $45 three-course prix fixe dinner menu with entrée choices of Butter Poached Maine Lobster Tail with sweet potato orzo, roasted butternut squash, Brussels sprout petals and fleur de sel truffle butter or Pan Roasted Filet Mignon with goat cheese and Yukon Gold potato purée, roasted baby vegetables and Béarnaise sauce (add a lobster tail for an additional $15). Call (408) 984-3500 for reservations.

Location: 377 Santana Row, Suite 1100, San Jose

Santa Cruz and San Jose restaurants open on New Year’s Eve, Part 1 of 2

Chef Ross McKee creates delicious food at Solaire in Santa Cruz

It’s the countdown to 2013 and the countdown to New Year’s Eve; do you have your restaurant reservations yet for Santa Cruz or San Jose? Here are details and menu highlights for a variety of venues; I’ll publish a few more tomorrow.

Santa Cruz Restaurants


Located at the Santa Cruz Dream Inn overlooking the Wharf, Aquarius is serving two meals on New Year’s Eve: brunch (7am-3pm) and dinner (5:30-10 p.m.). Also, a bar menu will be served from 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and the lounge is open for cocktails until 12:30 a.m. Aquarius has two dinner seatings for New Year’s Eve, one starting at 5 – 6 :30 p.m. and one starting at 9 p.m. First seating is $65 for three courses; second is $85 for four courses. The second seating includes a live DJ and vocalist Tammi Brown. Food selections include two mushroom veloute, slow poached lobster, grilled Colorado lamb loin, and chocolate cake with toasted pistachios, caramel sauce, and raspberries. Call 460-5012 for reservations or more information.

175 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz


This restaurant is offering a special three-course prixe fixe menu for New Year’s Eve; the cost is $55. Appetizer choices include mushroom tart with arugula and balsamic reduction, and Dungeness crab with avocado and greens. Entrée choices include seafood stew with fennel, croutons and aioli, and roasted chicken with gnocchi and broccolini. Dessert selections include persimmon pudding with whipped cream, and chocolate souffle. Call (831) 423-7427 for reservations.

121 Soquel Avenue, Santa Cruz


Johnny’s Harborside

On New Year’s Eve, Johnny’s is serving a prix fixe, three-course dinner for $38 that includes a glass of champagne. Call 479-3430 for reservations; the first seating is 5 p.m. and the last is 9:30 p.m. Customers choose one selection from each course. Appetizer options include fresh local crab bisque and baby spinach & goat cheese salad with medjool dates and roasted beets. Entrée choices include crab-stuffed petrale sole and pepper-crusted flatiron steak. Dessert selections include a trio of mousse parfaits. You can also order a la carte items if you sit at the bar. On New Year’s Eve during the day, the restaurant is offering its regular menu from 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. On New Year’s Day, Johnny’s opens at 10 a.m. for brunch which is served until 2, followed by regular dinner service which ends at 9 p.m.

493 Lake Ave, Santa Cruz


The restaurant is open on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. 12/31: Hindquarter is open at 11:30 a.m. for lunch, and from 5 p.m. onward for dinner serving the regular menu plus holiday specials. 1/1: Closed at lunch. The dining room is open at 5:30 p.m. serving the regular menu. Call (831) 426-7770 for reservations.

303 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz

Solaire at Hotel Paradox

On New Year’s Eve Solaire is open from 4 p.m. – 1 a.m. A four-course tasting menu ($75) is available for dinner; reservations start at 8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. and the table is then yours for the evening. The $75 per person includes party favors, live entertainment, dancing, and a champagne toast at midnight. On New Year’s Day Solaire is serving brunch from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. The restaurant will have an appetizer, salad, and dessert buffet with a la carte entrée selections plus unlimited sparkling wine or mimosas. Appetizers include fruit, cheese, antipasto, and vegetable crudite. Entrée choices include eggs benedict made with Glaum eggs (vegetarian and non-vegetarian versions are available), the Paradox burger (includes brioche bun and house ground beef), mussels with pernod, white wine, leeks, fennel, butter and herbs. Brunch is $28 for adults and $14 for kids ages 3-12. For reservations call (831) 600-4545.

611 Ocean St, Santa Cruz

San Jose Restaurants


LB Steak

The Santana Row restaurant is open on New Year’s Eve. It’s offering limited a la carte choices from its regular menu, plus a special $71.50 prix fixe four-course dinner (the prix fixe selections are also available a la carte). First course choices include trio of seafood crudo (yuzu and kampachi tartare, scallop ceviche, redfish escabeche) and prime beef tenderloin tartare. Second course choices include black truffle gnocchi, and third course choices include chicory-crusted loin of venison. Dessert selections include eggnog crème brulee with butter rum cookies. The last seating is at 11 p.m. Call (408) 244-1180 for reservations.

334 Santana Row, Suite 1000, San Jose


Amber India

Interested in Indian food to ring in the New Year? Amber India on Santana Row is providing a live band to accompany its always-delectable Indian cuisine. Dinner will include live cooking stations and wonderful tandoori kebabs. Call (408) 248-5400 for reservations.

377 Santana Row, Suite 1140, San Jose

It’s the last night of Santa Cruz Restaurant Week; here are some recommendations

Goodies at Laili during last year’s Santa Cruz Restaurant Week

The fourth annual Santa Cruz Restaurant Week ends on Oct. 10; read more details in my event preview (includes list of participating restaurants). A quick overview: for eight nights, diners have the opportunity to pay only $25 for a gourmet, prix fixe three-course dinner.

Two “late joiners” to Santa Cruz Restaurant Week were Oswald and Main Street Garden & Café, but rest assured—their hesitation means nothing as far as delivering a great meal. In fact, looks like they tried extra hard as newcomers!

One of my acquaintances and her friends greatly enjoyed dinner the other night at Main Street, proclaiming the butternut squash and apple soup delicious and highly recommending two entrees in particular: the heirloom and burrata pizza, and the ricotta gnocchi. Apparently, the wild honey panna cotta with almonds and sea salt was a divine dessert (what is with all the great panna cotta this week? Remember, I had a similarly wonderful one, but it was vanilla bean panna cotta at Gabriella Café, which I mentioned – and included a photo of – in my recap of that Restaurant Week visit). Oswald’s menu sounds positively delightful, with appetizers such as mushroom soup with crème fraiche and entrees like skirt steak with fries and blue cheese butter or corn and tomato pudding with sauteed spinach.

A friend of mine dined at Casablanca Friday night, and raved about the meal–especially certain parts. She “loved, loved, loved” the brussels sprouts (Crispy Brussels Sprouts, smoked chevre, apple gastrique) and her companion really liked his entrée of Organic Roasted Chicken with squash, olive, arugula, panisse, and piri piri sauce. She wasn’t crazy about the fish tagine entrée, but they both loved the Crème Catalan dessert. And the ocean view from the restaurant is absolutely beautiful.

Can’t decide where to dine or want to see some specific menus? Read more at the Santa Cruz Restaurant Week web site.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie

Mushroom cooking demos, kids activities, more at Santa Cruz Fungus Fair

An intrigued young attendee at Santa Cruz Fungus Fair

If you’re a mushroom fan, don’t miss the 37th Annual Santa Cruz Fungus Fair this weekend where you can watch cooking demos, get recipes, and hear experts at Louden Nelson Community Center in downtown Santa Cruz. Prices and fair hours can be found at the end of this article.

The event is so popular that this year it’s been expanded from two days to three days, beginning on Friday afternoon instead of Saturday morning. It features lots of great food from various vendors; last year selections included mushroom lasagna, cheesecake with candycap mushroom glaze, and India Joze Thai 3-mushroom soup (I had one delectable $4 bowl and could have eaten so much more!). Plus, the festival has many informative displays where you can learn more than you ever thought possible about mushrooms. A special habitat display area, beautifully arranged, will showcase hundreds of mushroom species commonly found in the Santa Cruz/San Francisco/Monterey Bay area.

The fair is hosted by the Fungus Federation of Santa Cruz, a non-profit organization that aims to expand the understanding and appreciation of mycology (study of mushrooms) and to assist the general public, related institutions, and societies to further this goal. Its biggest event is the annual Fungus Fair.


Friday, January 7 6-7pm: Oswald Chef/Co-Owner Damani Thomas will do a demo and talk on opening night of this year’s festival. He is an incredible chef and this is bound to be an engaging, informative program. Read more about Oswald, including the popular downtown Santa Cruz restaurant’s three-course fixed-price Wednesday evening meals.

Saturday, January 8 3-4:30pm: Chef Todd Spanier, who runs a business gathering “wild foods” including mushrooms and huckleberries, and getting them into markets and restaurants – including getting his morels into Chez Panisse. Read more about Spanier at the Fungus Fair web site’s program/speaker section.

Sunday January 9 3-4:30pm: Jozseph Schultz (founder/chef of restaurant India Joze) is doing a demo and audience members will get to taste samples. Schultz’s travels include Bali and Turkey, and he is a talented cook and storyteller. Here are some of his recipes; he’s authored cookbooks such as “India Joze International Mushroom Cookbook.” In addition to running India Joze (read more on this fabulous restaurant), Schultz teaches many classes including ones at local New Leaf Market and UC Santa Cruz.

Other fungus fair highlights include mushroom identification (bring your own and have experts tell you details!), vendors selling mushroom-related books, jewelry, and ceramics, and lectures by individuals such as Fungus Fair founder / mycologist / author  David Arora — see complete schedule — plus a Kids Room with hands-on activities such as making clay mushrooms and dying fabric with mushroom dyes. Arora’s most recent publication was as a major contributor to a special ethnomycological issue of Economic Botany, a journal published by the New York Botanical Garden. His interests range from mushroom harvest and usage around the world to mushroom ecology, taxonomy, cuisine, foraging culture and storytelling. All of these subjects will likely be covered during presentations entitled “The Wheel of Fungi” (11am-12:30 Saturday, 1-2:30 Sunday). The Saturday and Sunday presentations have the same title but will not cover the same material. Arora says of them: “Without giving too much away, I will be giving something away.”

One of last year’s culinary demo guests was wild-mushroom chef/Oregon restaurateur Jack Czarnecki, and I really enjoyed his presentation. Read more about Czarnecki and his 2010 Fair appearance here — includes cooking tips. Get Czarnecki’s recipe for salmon cakes with mushrooms and truffle mayonnaise

See all you mushroom lovers this weekend!

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

The Details:

4-7pm Friday January 7; 10am-5pm Saturday & Sunday January 8-9

Call (831) 684-2275 for more information or see fair site

Admission: Friday $5 for everyone

Saturday-Sunday – $7 Adults, $5 Seniors & Students, free for kids under 12

Louden Nelson Community Center, 301 Center Street (at corner of Laurel) – some street parking available at center; another option is further down Center Street near the police station