Tag Archives: restaurant news

Win a year of coffee from Peet’s Coffee & learn about holiday drinks

Photo credit: Peet’s Coffee, used with permission

Earlier this fall, Peet’s Coffee launched a campaign called “What Fills Your Cup?” In honor of this new campaign, it’s offering fans a chance to win a year’s supply of coffee (via a $1,000 Peet’s gift card)—and there will be five winners. Peet’s invites you to “Share Your Passion” by uploading a photo of yourself in pursuit of your own unique aspirations or passion—such as art, sports, or music. The contest will accept submissions through Nov. 20, 2017 on peets.com/passion. Winners will be randomly selected in a drawing conducted around Nov. 29, 2017. No purchase is necessary.

The Peet’s “What Fills Your Cup?” promotion has a cast of well-known characters who are driven by their passions. “The success of Peet’s Coffee is intrinsically tied to our passion for crafting the finest and freshest coffee sourced from the highest quality beans and hand-roasted in small batches,” said Andrea Fernandes, Director, Brand Marketing, Peet’s Coffee. The individuals whose stories Peet’s chose to highlight include:

  • Kristen Kish, an acclaimed chef (winner of Bravo’s Top Chef) releasing her first book, Kristen Kish Cooking
  • Brianna Cope, a professional surfer from Kauai chasing waves since the age of four, currently traveling the world as a member of the World Surf League
  • Scott Borrero, a lauded commercial photographer and winner of Nigel Barker’s Top Photographer

In other Peet’s news, the 2017 holiday blend coffee is now available at Peet’s coffeebar locations, select grocery stores across the country and online. Each season, Peet’s seeks the year’s best beans to create a unique, celebratory blend. The 2017 blend features beans from Guatemala (“for notes of bittersweet chocolate), Sumatra (“for a hint of warm spice”) and Ethiopia (“for a floral twist”). At the beginning of November, coffeebars started serving two new beverages for the holidays in addition to traditional seasonal favorites. The new drinks are Holiday Spiced Latte and Winter Solstice Tea Latte, both featuring a mix of holiday baking spaces. Returning drinks include Peppermint Mocha, Eggnog Latte and Pepperming Cocoa.

Last but not least, Peet’s is permanently adding House Made Chocolate Sauce to its menu. Coffeebar baristas will prepare it fresh each day with premium ingredients. I’m very excited to try this delicious-sounding treat next time I visit Peet’s!

To find a Peet’s Coffee location near you, use the online store locator.

Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

 

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).

 

 

Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

 

 

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.”

 

 

Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

 

 

 

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

Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

 

 

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

 

Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

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.

****

 

Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

 

 

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.

Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

 

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.

Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

 

 

Santa Cruz Seafood PopUp Dinner Thursday from Ocean2Table and Halibut4Humanity

Fish tacos from a past Ocean2table pop-up

Fish tacos from a past Ocean2table pop-up

Ocean2table and Halibut4Humanity are partnering for a “Pescetarian PopUp” from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8 at the Food Lounge in downtown Santa Cruz

 

Organizers say that attendees can expect “delicious and sustainable seafood, veggies and foraged mushrooms.” Another bonus of supporting this event: all profits will benefit single mothers in Santa Cruz County through scholarships awarded by nonprofit organization Halibut4Humanity.

 

Orders will be taken on a “first come, first served” basis. No tickets are required. Visit Ocean2table’s website for more information.

 

As always, the seafood will be local, wild and sustainable—fresh from the boat either that day or the day before. The menu will also include locally sourced, organically grown vegetables and green morel mushrooms that Ocean2table has foraged. Selections for sale will include fresh fish tacos and fish cakes. The Food Lounge bar will be selling local beer, wine and liquor.

 

Isaac Simpson recently started Halibut4Humanity. Its mission is to raise funds for disadvantaged single mothers in Santa Cruz County. For Thursday’s menu, Simpson will be contributing a few ingredients such as smoked Alaskan sockeye salmon that he caught and prepared himself.

 

Charlie Lambert and Ian Cole founded seafood company Ocean2table. They put on all their popups with the goals of encouraging community support and of educating attendees about local, sustainable and organic food.

 

Ocean2table provides very fresh seafood to customers in several local areas; you can choose to pick up or get your fish delivered. Subscribers to the email list (fresh catch “fish alerts”) get notified the day before local fresh fish is available. Customers must place half- or full-share orders by the announced deadline. You can remain on the email list and buy seafood as many or as few times as you’d like. For more information on Ocean2table and its seafood alerts, visit getocean2table.com.

Date/Time: Thursday, Sept. 8, 5 to 8 p.m. (or earlier if food sells out)

Location: Santa Cruz Food Lounge, 1001 Center St.

Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer

Fogo de Chao on Santana Row: great for family brunch, date night, or weekday lunch

Brazilian brunch service started a couple months ago at Fogo. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Brazilian brunch service started in May at Fogo de Chao. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to try out Fogo de Chão on Santana Row with my family. From the moment we walked in, the service was impeccable. To me, having attentive staff greet you upon arrival is the signal of a good experience to come – and Fogo did not disappoint. Even the assistant manager, Yuri Teixeira, stopped by twice to make sure we had everything we needed.

After one staff member greeted us and immediately showed us to our table, another Fogo team member asked if it was our first time dining there (it was), in which case he would provide us with a little guidance. We were eager to try the new Brazilian Brunch which launched at all Fogo locations nationwide in May. Many locations only offer this brunch on Sundays, but Santana Row is one of nine restaurants that offer it on Saturdays too.

As our waiter explained, the Brazilian Brunch includes both the “full Churrasco experience” and the Market Table. Churrasco basically means you better come hungry! Anytime you want to eat some of Fogo’s fire-roasted meats, you flip a card on your table to the green side (green means go) and a chef will arrive and carve meat for you tableside. When you want to take a break, either to enjoy some of the other selections or to just pause from eating, you flip the card to show red. Each diner has their own card, and the chefs and other staff are continuously and carefully scanning the room—during our brunch, we never had to wait more than a minute after flipping a card before a chef was asking if we wanted what he was serving, whether that was a house specialty like picanha (signature sirloin sliced very thin), filet mignon, ribeye, cordeiro (lamb) or something else like Parmesan pork, chicken drumstick or breast, linguica sausage. The restaurant has 16 meats total.

 

Very soon after we sat down, waitstaff also brought over the Brazilian side dishes that are included with brunch. These included pão de queijo (warm cheese bread, which is gluten-free), mashed potatoes and fried polenta and caramelized bananas. It was hard to stop eating the scrumptious polenta, but I knew I wanted to save room for lots of other offerings.

 

The Market Table & Feijoada Bar is a self-serve area with salads, vegetables, feijoada (black bean stew with sausage and other toppings) and an egg bake with asparagus, broccoli, peppadew peppers, Swiss cheese, and the aforementioned gluten-free cheese bread. Other selections included a parfait with Greek yogurt, granola and berries. Some of my favorites were hearts of palm, asparagus, fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, marinated artichoke bottoms and an edamame/corn salad. My five-year-old daughter loved the olives and the giant Parmesan wheel that held an abundance of bite-sized cheese pieces.

 

When we commented to one of the waitstaff how great all the meats were, he explained that that the sea salt they use really brings out the flavors. I did some more research in the last few days and discovered that many of the meats they serve are seasoned only with sea salt; the fact that they taste so good is a testament to the meat’s top quality.

 

Our host asked which selections were our favorites and it was hard to choose (later, I counted how many we tried: my husband tasted nine, I tried eight and my daughter sampled small portions of five varieties). Mine was probably the garlic steak. The pork chop with Cajun seasoning was pretty darn good too. My husband’s was the Parmesan pork. My daughter enjoyed all the ones she tasted; she wouldn’t pick a favorite when I asked. I know she thoroughly enjoyed the linguica sausage, among others.

 

Believe it or not, after all this we couldn’t resist trying dessert. My daughter and I shared—and devoured—molten chocolate cake that was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Delicious!

 

For weekend brunch in San Jose, adults cost $45.95 for the “full experience” or $26.95 for market table only. Drinks and dessert are extra. Kids 6 and under are free, and ages 7-12 are half price.

 

The restaurant’s atmosphere and the Santana Row location (a nearby movie theater and shopping) make Fogo a great pick for date night. Obviously I recommend it for weekend brunch with the family, and I also noticed that they offer a weekday lunch that starts at only $15. That gets you the Market Table & Feijoada Bar, but you can add a grilled meat selection for between $6-$9; other options include sea bass a la carte ($27.95) or the full experience ($36.95).

 

For more prices or specific information on Fogo’s San Jose location, see the Santana Row Fogo web site. To learn more about Fogo in general or other locations including San Francisco, visit the main site.

 

Want to learn more about Brazil and its cuisine? Fogo just launched an online guide that includes drink recipes (such as a passion fruit caipirinha, a twist on the national cocktail), food recipes, and etiquette and language tips.

 

Fogo de Chão on Santana Row location & hours:

377 Santana Row #1090 (corner of Olsen) (408) 244-7001

Saturday/Sunday brunch 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

Sat dinner 3-10:30 p.m. Sun dinner 4-9 p.m.

Mon–Fri lunch 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Mon-Thurs dinner 5-10 p.m.

Fri dinner 5-10:30 p.m.

Follow me on:

Twitter @santacruzfoodie

Instagram @tarafatemiwalker

Facebook @santacruzfoodieexaminer