Lindwood's Bar & Grill
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An A-Z Guide to Santa Cruz Restaurant Week

By Aaron Carnes, Maria Grusauskas, Anne-Marie Harrison, Steve Palopoli, Jacob Pierce, June Smith, Andrew Steingrube, Lily Stoicheff and Mat Weir

 

515 Kitchen & Cocktails

After five years of working at 515 Kitchen & Cocktails, Bar Manager Ethan Samuels is excited for another savory Santa Cruz Restaurant Week. “I love how it brings in customers who might not normally eat here,” Samuels says. “We have a very dedicated following, but there are still people who have never taken the opportunity to try us out.” Samuels says that this year’s SCRW patrons are in for a delectable treat that didn’t have to travel far to be on their table. “We’ll be showcasing some aperitif cocktails and delicious local ingredients from Santa Cruz and California,” he hints, “along with beer and wine pairing with our entrees and some of our limited sipping spirits to pair with dessert.” 515 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. 425-5052, 515santacruz.com. (MW)

 

Aquarius

Aquarius

Aquarius

Aquarius isn’t just a destination restaurant for special occasions, says General Manager CJ Hartman—they’ve got a seven-day happy hour and a “light bites” tapas-style menu in the lounge. “Restaurant Week gives the local community the opportunity to dine at a local establishment at a great value,” says Hartman, adding that it also allows them to explore beyond their normal gustatory range. Having something for everyone is important to Hartman, which is why he says there will be a vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian option in each course of the prix-fixe menu. For the meat lovers, though, he says steak is always a triumph—this year it’ll be prime sirloin with horseradish mashed potatoes and port demi-glace. And it’s not only the patrons who get excited for the week of dining delights, says Hartman, who also takes the opportunity to try new restaurants. “The only feedback is that guests wish it was two weeks long,” he says. Santa Cruz Dream Inn, 175 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz. 460-5012, jdvhotels.com/restaurants. (JS)

 

Assembly

Assembly co-founder Zach Davis has a lot of memories of Restaurant Week, but because it gets so packed every year, most of them are blurry. However, he recalls the time he was walking by one of the community tables and noticed a man and a woman from different parties looking at each other oddly. “I recognized one as a member of the faculty at a well-regarded Bay Area culinary school and the other as one of our beloved local wine makers. The next time I walked by they were deep in conversation, and I found out later that they had worked in a bakery together over a decade earlier, but had lost touch over the years.” Restaurant Week: bringing people together. 1108 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. 824-6100, assembly.restaurant. (JS)

 

Back Nine Grill & Bar

In their third year participating in Santa Cruz Restaurant Week, the crew at Back Nine Grill & Bar is happy to be preparing this year’s menu, which includes such delicacies as a pork chop, a Russian risotto, and a niçoise salmon. Last year, general manager Michelle Costa was struck by the response from diners to one dish in particular. “Last year, we did some kind of fish with mango salsa, and it went over really well. This year, we’re doing a couple of our new items on the menu that we just put on there. We’re highlighting those.” 555 Hwy. 17, Santa Cruz. 423-5000, backninegrill.com. (AC)

 

Cafe Mare

Assembly

Assembly

When chef Jean Pierre Iuliano creates a Restaurant Week menu, he doesn’t just bring 25 years of experience to the table, he brings the original flavorings and home-style memories from Calabria, “the toe of the boot of Italy.” He’s making recipes he grew up eating, and since Iuliano’s co-partner Andrea Mura is from Sardinia, between the two of them Cafe Mare’s menu is pure Italian goodness. Last year’s Restaurant Week fan favorite, says Iuliano, was the penne Taleggio e speck (penne pasta in cream sauce in sharp Taleggio cheese from northern Italy with pork thigh and green peas), which is back this year along with ravioli della nonna (walnut-filled ravioli with Gorgonzola sauce) and snapper Livornese (red snapper with capers, olives, onions, tomatoes and white wine). New on this year’s menu will be the carpaccio di tonno, fresh albacore tuna from which they extract the loins, coat with herbs, wrap and freeze for a fresh appetizer served with lemon, olive oil and capers. 740 Front St #100, Santa Cruz. 458-1212, cafemare.com. (AMH)

 

Chocolate

David Jackman, owner and chef at Chocolate, is perhaps one of the more experimental folks when it comes to designing a SCRW menu. One year, he designed an entire menu inspired by one of his teacher-chefs from Italy. Some customers thought it was too much of a departure from their standard menu, so he’s since reeled it in a bit. “That’s been some very useful feedback. For the most part, Santa Cruz Restaurant Week for us tends to be very seasonal in what we’re offering. We like to use Restaurant Week to use some of our autumn flavors,” says Jackman. A great example is on last year’s menu, for which Jackman made a barbecue sauce based on persimmons. This year he’ll be doing a repeat of something off of last year’s menu: their pasta rosette, but with butternut squash. “It’s really the cousin of pumpkin ravioli. Instead of using pumpkin, we use butternut squash. And we use a format for pasta rosette.” Over the years, one item that Jackman is most proud of is a dessert called Sacher torte. “It’s one of the most popular desserts in Europe, and it doesn’t really go much here. It’s based on a Viennese recipe and they sell it all over Italy. It’s a dark chocolate ganache with an apricot filling.” 1522 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. 427-9900, chocolatesantacruz.com. (AC)

Cremer House

For the Cremer House, Santa Cruz Restaurant Week is always a good time to experiment with dishes. Last year they made a curry dish with roasted vegetables, which chef JP Doiron called “really good for ‘white boy making curry.’” They also did a scallop dish with curry sauce. “Scallops are delicious with just about anything. It happened to be a coincidence at the time. We had two curry recipes, and they represented us really well.” Doiron wasn’t head chef last year, but this year the menu is all his. Nothing on it will be from the regular menu. “You have to specifically order the Restaurant Week menu to get these items. That makes it a little more exclusive,” he says. Some highlights include a kale Caesar salad with crispy potato chips and Parmesan, and desserts coconut panna cotta and butterscotch pudding. 6256 Hwy. 9, Felton. 335-3976, cremerhouse.com. (AC)

 

Crow’s Nest

Gabriella Café

Gabriella Café

Jeff Westbrook has been the executive chef at Crow’s Nest for 18 years, and has seen firsthand what an impact Restaurant Week can have. “It’s about 75 percent of our sales in that week,” he says. “I remember the first year that we did it, I was surprised at the percentage.” In fact, Westbrook says that people seemed to enjoy SCRW so much that it inspired him to do a Thursday night multi-course prixe fixe menu that’s available weekly except during summer. “It’s nice to be able to do different things and experiment with new dishes that might make it to the main menu,” Westbrook says. “It’s a good testing ground.” One dish that’s been a hit on the prix-fixe menu and will be on this year’s SCRW menu is a salmon sashimi with wasabi apple relish, and seasonal favorites like local and organic pumpkins and squash will be featured throughout the dishes as well. 2218 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz. 475-4560, crowsnest-santacruz.com. (AS)

El Jardín

For the second year of Restaurant Week at El Jardín, it’s all about their award-winning mole. Server/manager Kayla Delgado wants it front and center in this year’s menu—it’ll be the flavorful base for chicken breast served with rice and beans. New to the SCRW game last year, Delgado says they quickly learned that a full three-course meal of Mexican food can be a lot. So, although she says “Mexican food tastes good the next day,” and they offer to-go boxes, they are serving smaller appetizers this year as a palate opener. Additionally, Delgado has made a point to add more vegetarian options, like the veggie fajita bowl with romaine and spinach salad topped with grilled fajita vegetables, brown rice, black beans, sour cream, pico de gallo and Cotija cheese. 655 Capitola Road, Santa Cruz. 477-9384, eljardinrestaurant.net. (AH)

 

Gabriella Café

Solaire

Solaire

Tucked away off of Cedar Street in downtown Santa Cruz, the cozy Gabriella Café is a romantic destination. Owner Paul Cocking is committed to using the freshest ingredients from local farms to create an adventurous menu of house-made pastas, vibrant salads and perfectly cooked meats. During Santa Cruz Restaurant Week, Cocking showcases Gabriella Café’s most popular offerings from their regular menu. The duck breast with quince-apple gastrique and tomato-braised California lamb shank are especially popular choices for guests visiting the restaurant for the first time, which he believes is due to the superior preparation of these seldom seen items. This year they are debuting a new dish—butternut squash raviolis with truffle honey, walnuts, sage and goat cheese. 910 Cedar St., Santa Cruz. 457-1677, gabriellacafe.com. (LS)

 

Hindquarter Bar & Grille

“I’m dancing as fast as I can” pretty much describes Restaurant Week at the Hindquarter Bar & Grille, say owners Laurie Stephens, Mark Urban and Chef Sam Yanez. This is their third year as owners, but they have all worked at Hindquarter since SCRW began. Stephens says, “We have kept the menu basically the same because it showcases three of our regular menu items, which we feel is what you want to do to bring people back in. They all sell fairly equally, and we get so many compliments on everything. Why change what works?”  

Stephens adds that the RW menu can actually be a little easier on the kitchen because instead of 50 different items, there are only three, and the majority of dinners served during that week are the RW three-course option. “There is definitely more prep work for the kitchen, but it’s all worth it. We just ride the wave every year during Restaurant Week and it’s a blast!” 303 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. 426-7770, thehindquarter.com. (JS)

Hoffman’s

Owner Ed Hoffman takes pride in putting out a solid SCRW menu. Every year, they try out some new ideas, while sticking within the style of cuisine Hoffman’s is known for. “We always like to show off what we can do, what we think our best things are. We’re always changing a little bit, working on our technique and what we also want to present the rest of the year too,” Hoffman says. Some of their favorite items in their regular menu even debuted on a Restaurant Week menu, two prime examples being the coconut prawns and the organic apple salad with Point Reyes blue cheese. The coconut prawns is on the menu year-round, whereas the apple salad is a recurring seasonal item. “We’re in apple season now, so we get those good fresh apples. They combine well with the Point Reyes blue cheese.” 1102 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. 420-0135, hoffmanssantacruz.com. (AC)

Hollins House at Pasatiempo

Hoffman's

Hoffman’s

The sweeping views of the Monterey Bay from the historic dining room of Hollins House at Pasatiempo are truly jaw-dropping. Manager Annie Daly says that many visitors take the opportunity to visit their stunning restaurant during Santa Cruz Restaurant Week because the grounds where the restaurant is located are so beautiful. So many, in fact, that the Friday night of Restaurant Week in 2015 was the busiest evening Hollins House has ever had. It was also Daly’s first week as restaurant manager. “It was hectic, but fun,” she says. “It’s nice, because the smaller menu is not as overwhelming for the kitchen so it’s easier for them to keep up.” Chef John Paul’s menu features innovative spins on classic American dishes with locally sourced ingredients from the Santa Cruz area. 20 Clubhouse Road, Santa Cruz. 459-9177, pasatiempo.com. (LS)

 

Hula’s Island Grill

“My favorite part about Restaurant Week is trying out the three separate meals,” says bartender Art Mueller. “I also love meeting all the new people and patrons.” For the last seven years, Mueller has created the delicious Tiki cocktails Hula’s is known for. When pressed for his favorite Restaurant Week menu, he says, “Probably the Lemongrass Ahi year. We did it with calamari as the starting appetizer, and macadamia nut ice cream for dessert.” This year, Mueller suggests trying a Zombie or a Painkiller to go with the exotic menu Hula’s has planned. 221 Cathcart St, Santa Cruz. 426-4852, hulastiki.com. (MW)

 

Ideal Bar & Grill

Twenty-four-year Ideal Bar & Grill veteran Jesus Garcia has seen his fair share of Restaurant Weeks. For the last seven years, he has worked as the head of the kitchen, serving up new and creative dishes to hungry customers. “My favorite part about working at Ideal are all my co-workers,” he says, “along with coming up with new specials for the menu.” This year, Garcia expects patrons will enjoy the restaurant’s kale and cranberry salad, ceviche and chicken Parmesan specials. For dessert, he suggests the chocolate lava cake. “I love Restaurant Week because of all the advertisement and new customers,” he says proudly. 106 Beach St., Santa Cruz. 423-5271, idealbarandgrill.com. (MW)

 

Johnny’s Harborside

“Typically it’s our busiest week in October,” says owner and general manager Dan Agostinis of SCRW. “We look forward to it. It’s nice to go outside the box and showcase our quality local farmers and providers.” Agostinis, who has been with the restaurant for 10 years, says the menu this year will be Coastal California cuisine that aims to “creatively turn raw ingredients into something the guest will enjoy.” He says the restaurant’s concept is more focused this year, “It’s all about local people, produce, proteins, and even wine and beer.” Agostinis hints at the SCRW menu by mentioning jalapeño poppers and even using the words “chocolate” and “flan” in the same sentence. “We’ve been kind of floating out the Restaurant Week items amongst ourselves, locals, and regulars, and they’ve been really well received,” he divulges. “People are already jonesing for them to be on the regular menu.” 493 Lake Ave., Santa Cruz. 479-3430, johnnysharborside.com. (AS)

 

Kianti’s Pizza & Pasta Bar

Hollin's House at Pasatiempo

Hollin’s House at Pasatiempo

This is Kianti’s second year participating in SCRW, and co-owner Tracey Parks-Barber can’t wait to make it a yearly tradition. “We hope to continue into the future,” she says. “Last year was a great experience.” So great, in fact, that this year they decided to keep the same menu diners loved. “We thought it was extremely successful, so we wanted to continue that,” Parks-Barber says. Her SCRW recommendation? “It’s hard to choose one meal because they’re all favorites, but I’d say the Kianti’s insalate, the gourmet pasta and the Kianti’s cookie for dessert.” 1100 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. 469-4400, kiantis.com. (MW)

 

Laili

In addition to the aromatic Silk Road flavors of its Middle Eastern cuisine, downtown restaurant Laili is known for its gorgeous outdoor patio. With verdant greenery climbing its high brick walls, dining al fresco in this hidden courtyards feels a world away from the Pacific Avenue buzz. Manager Ali Amin offers their most popular South Asian specialties on their SCRW menu in order to give new guests a snapshot of the best the restaurant has to offer. Regulars will be familiar with the menu, says Amin, but they’ll enjoy a little bit of a discount. For first-time visitors, Amin recommends the kadoo boranee appetizer—butternut squash flavored with garlic, turmeric, mint and qurut yogurt. “It’s a really special dish, a family recipe,” says Amin. “People really fall in love with it.” 101 Cooper St., Santa Cruz. 423-4545, lailirestaurant.com. (LS)

 

Linwood’s Bar & Grill at Chaminade

Michael's On Main

Michael’s On Main

The Linwood’s Bar & Grill staff believes that Restaurant Week has brought many first-time diners to the resort who then become repeat patrons. Their most popular SCRW tradition—and the dish that always sells out the fastest—is Sticky Toffee Pudding. The pudding was originally crafted for a notable guest who visited the resort year after year. It also ran periodically as a special on Linwood’s menu, and eventually it was added to Linwood’s seasonal dessert offerings, and a place on the SCRW prix fixe menu. It turns out that several of Linwood’s dishes have come about because clients want something crafted just for them, and the chefs pull out all the stops to create the perfect meal. If the dishes are well received, they sometimes make their way onto Linwood’s menus. One Chaminade Lane, Santa Cruz. 475-5600, chaminade.com. (JS)

Margaritaville

Sarah Orr, owner and general manager of Margaritaville, tells the story of a party that arrived during Restaurant Week last year, which she nicknamed the “Try Every Restaurant Quartet.” “This group came in on Thursday night with binders and planners in tow, and told me it was their goal to visit every restaurant on the roster,” says Orr. “They detailed their lunch/dinner strategy and showed me how they had managed to devise a plan to visit every restaurant. Two weeks later, I ran into one of the guests who sadly informed me that they didn’t achieve their goal because they hadn’t realized that ‘Restaurant Week’ was only a week. I encouraged them to visit the restaurants regardless, but to them it wasn’t the same. Over the past year, I have gotten to know this group as they have made their way through our Tequila List, and have tried every dish on our menu. They told me last month that they are eagerly awaiting the 2016 roster so as to achieve their original goal.” 231 Esplanade, Capitola. 476-2263, margaritavillecapitola.com. (JS)

 

Michael’s on Main

Over the years, Michael’s owner and chef Michael Clark and his crew have learned how to navigate the hectic pace of SCRW. “We put on our seat belts and go!” he says. After his many years in the kitchen, as well as extensive travel, Clark knows well the importance of the umami factor, and designs all his menus using this concept. Clark’s play on the many cultures using umami is presented in his Restaurant Week first course of wild salmon gravlax, salt-cured, and served on a bed of arugula with champagne vinaigrette and dill crème fraîche. He says, “Customers don’t always realize why a dish tastes so fulfilling and satisfying; it’s an unconscious reaction.” He sums up the week by saying, “It not only brings a focus to our wonderful restaurants, but it takes place during our slower season. It’s a win-win for us all.” 2591 Main St., Soquel. 479-0777, michaelsonmain.net. (JS)

 

Mozaic

Mozaic co-owner Jay Dib’s only complaint about Restaurant Week? It’s over too quickly. Mozaic would gladly serve a customer who shows up on the ninth day, after the stretch has officially ended, he says. Last year, the Mediterranean-themed restaurant had only been open a few weeks when it participated. “It gave us exposure. We were very happy with Restaurant Week,” he says of the experience, “and it was very consistent.” This time, chefs are bringing back the chicken souvlaki, which was a big hit in 2015. “The chicken was probably what put us on the map. The technique we use for the chicken keeps it juicy,” Dib says. “The seasoning is the key to the flavors.” 110 Church St., Santa Cruz. 454-8663, mozaicsantacruz.com. (JP)

 

Pearl of the Ocean

Owner Ayoma Wilen makes it a point to send people on their way feeling happy, nourished, and not like they just ate way too much (which is easy to do with a three-course meal.) Her almost 99 percent organic menu of Sri Lankan cuisine uses health-enhancing spices and shies away from heavy oils. But she also notices something else in her customers—how they interact.

“There’s one couple who has been coming here, a beautiful young couple. And even though they have been through a lot, they always switch off their phones, and they hold hands, and look into each other’s eyes, and they really just enjoy each other,” says Wilen. “Sometimes it takes so long just for them to order, but I can really feel their love, and it is beautiful.”

Wilen has invited this couple to kick off SCRW this year as her guests of honor, hoping that it will set the tone for what could be her most festive year yet: For the first time ever, Wilen plans to serve kottu roti. “You can’t find this food in Sri Lanka at a five-star hotel. This is the kind of food that you buy and go to see the sunset, because it’s only something you can find by the beach, and because it’s a show to put it together,” she says. 736 Water St., Santa Cruz. 475-2350, pearloftheocean.net. (MG)

 

The Point Chophouse

Mozaic

Mozaic

For chef Peter McAtee, last year’s SCRW was all about validation, and he says it was one of the most fulfilling experiences he’s had in the industry. “It was like cooking for my girlfriend but on a large scale,” says McAtee. “It was my first year as head chef and it was crazy busy, at least two to three times busier than normal,” he continues. “We sold food like it was going out of style, it made me want to continue being a head chef because it seemed like I was doing something right.” Given a creative green light to design the menu both last year and this year, McAtee’s cuisine is French-influenced and approachable, and he comes into this year feeling the confidence that comes along with finding one’s niche. 3326 Portola Drive, Santa Cruz. 476-2733, thepointchophouse.com. (AS)

 

Red Restaurant & Bar

When asked about favorite SCRW menus of the past, Red Room’s General Manager Taylor Fontana doesn’t take long to answer. “Actually, last year. [Head Chef] Galen Jordan and I created a ‘Taste of the World’ theme,” he says. “We covered every continent, labeled where each item was from and paired drinks with each continental dish.” But that doesn’t mean he isn’t looking toward the future. “This year we designed it to further highlight our regular menu, which was a lot of fun to do.” Chef Jordan says, “Every Restaurant Week I’ve taken part in has been wild. There are so many tickets and dishes! It’s a nice adrenaline rush for the week.” Building upon the Red’s home menu, Jordan hints that patrons can look forward to seabass street tacos and fried flank steak with a Mexican chimichurri sauce on top as two of the dishes. 200 Locust St., Santa Cruz. 425-1913, redrestaurantandbar.com. (MW)

 

Ristorante Italiano

Aileen Garcia has been with Ristorante Italiano on Soquel Avenue for six years now. The manager and part of the restaurant’s family owners, Garcia has fond memories of previous Restaurant Weeks. “I love seeing new faces,” she says with a smile. “We’ve been getting very prepared and making sure everyone is ready for when the rush comes. I’ve been watching people’s reactions to Restaurant Week online and I’m excited about all the positive reactions. ” This year, Ristorante Italiano chose not to stray from their already delicious menu. Instead they decided to add twists to customer favorites like mini cannolis, pumpkin gelato and deep-fried artichoke hearts. “Last year, the pumpkin cheesecake was a highlight for me,” remembers Garcia. “You can never go wrong with sweets and I love our desserts.” 555 Soquel Ave., #150, Santa Cruz. 458-2321, ristoranteitalianosc.com. (MW)

 

Rosie McCann’s

Rosie McCann’s is a fixture of the local pub scene, but for manager Michael Farewell, Santa Cruz Restaurant Week is a chance to expand its appeal beyond the bar crowd. “It brings in a lot of people,” Farewell says of SCRW. “I think it’s a great deal.” It’s also a chance to show off some aspects of the menu that don’t always get a lot of attention. For instance, how many people are going to a pub for dessert? Not nearly enough, says Farewell, considering what they offer—but he likes the fact that SCRW diners will discover it as part of the three-course menu. “Our desserts are fantastic,” says Farewell. 1220 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. 426-9930, rosiemccanns.com. (SP)

Sanderlings at Seascape

Sanderlings’ Chef de Cuisine Mario Garcia says that over the years, they’ve learned what works and what doesn’t during Restaurant Week. And what works, he says, is keeping it simple. “We’ve decided not to create a menu with too many components, like the year we served salmon en papillote, and on the same menu offered banana splits. We got so far behind wrapping the salmon in parchment that the delay caused the ice cream to melt. Today’s trend is leading us back to simplicity. Keep it simple and delicious!” he says. “It’s not about what you sell, it’s the experience,” says manager Jeff Hanson. “It’s an opportunity to interface with more of your public and build your restaurant’s name.” 1 Seascape Resort Drive, Aptos, 662-7120, sanderlingsrestaurant.com. (JS)

Severino’s Bar & Grill

Ristorante Italiano

Ristorante Italiano

Seacliff Inn general manager Debbie Parsons looks forward to SCRW. Each year she takes participation to a new level by sending her managers out to experience the creative dishes at our local restaurants—and, yes, she pays. A few of the dishes that have been big hits for Seacliff Inn’s Severino’s are roasted beet and fresh watermelon salad frisée and French feta in fresh herb vinaigrette. Another favorite with customers is wild Alaskan salmon stuffed with garlic prawn vegetable mousse on a bed of asparagus, with fingerling potatoes and sweet red bell pepper coulis, enhanced with a touch of lobster base. The dessert of choice, pumpkin crème brulée, appears again this year. Restaurant Week diners especially enjoy the generous portions served, which Severino’s is known for. 7500 Old Dominion Court, Aptos. 661-4672, severinosbarandgrill.com. (JS)

 

Soif

This year, like every year, Mark Denham, Soif’s head chef, will show up to the Wednesday farmers market to fill in the missing ingredients of his three-course SCRW menu. He plans to pick up eggs from either Fogline Farm or Mellody Ranch. He’ll see if Schletewitz Family Farms is selling its scrumptious sweet potatoes, and he’ll nab lettuce from either Happy Boy, Route 1 or Blue Heron farms. “It’s always a little bit of crap shoot, especially when we have to plan things out so far in advance,” he admits, but Soif’s farm-to-table approach always pays off. Once they get moving, the eight days make for an exciting, if trying, time for the entire team. “It’s a combination of high expectations and high volume. It creates a certain anxiety. It’s like the homecoming game and the homecoming dance all rolled into one,” Denham says. “It’s one of those things that everyone’s excited about, and then when it’s gone, everyone’s relieved.” 105 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz. 423-2020, soifwine.com. (JP)

Solaire at Hotel Paradox

Interim executive chef Pete Martinez is happy to be participating in SCRW again, after the restaurant opted out last year due to a transition in branding. “Restaurant Week is a very busy time for us. It’s good for business and gets locals back into the mix,” says Martinez, who has been with Solaire since the day they opened four years ago. He says that during previous SCRWs they were very busy and received good feedback, turning a lot of first-time customers into repeat business. A collaborative effort between him and his team, Martinez is excited about the menu this year, which will feature New American cuisine. He looks forward to going outside the norm and presenting common ingredients done in fresh, modern, and uncommon ways. “It’s a very ambitious menu,” says Martinez. “I’m trying to put my vision onto a plate.” 611 Ocean St., Santa Cruz. 600-4545, hotelparadox.com. (AS)

 

Splash!

Splash!

Splash!

A few years ago, Caleb Hascom, then the head chef at 515, put a special deboned chicken on his Restaurant Week menu. It had to be stuffed with prosciutto, Gouda and spices before searing. All told, it took three hours to prep a batch, so he made a few dozen before the first night to last several days. They sold out right away. “It was so popular that I was making that for the rest of the week,” says Hascom, who’s now at the newly opened Splash on the Santa Cruz Wharf. “It wasn’t a bad thing. It’s nice to have people getting in the door and trying your restaurant. It’s always a fun time. It’s always busy. It’s always good to show people your restaurant and the philosophy of the food.” The philosophy for Splash: simple, fresh flavors sourced from local ingredients—with a twist. 49 Municipal Wharf, Santa Cruz. 466-9766, splashonthewharf.com. (JP)

 

Stonehouse Bar & Grill

Chef Mark Laverty arrived on the scene at Stonehouse Bar & Grill just two months ago, but his more than 10 years of experience working as a chef in the Silicon Valley left him with a great appreciation for the culturally diverse flavors found there. He’s also experienced quite a few Restaurant Weeks, and sees them as a litmus test for customers’ palates. “For me, it’s always great to find out what people like. Sometimes you get to talk to them and find out, other times you look at your sales and find out what sold. If your fish sells well, or your short ribs, or pasta, then that’s what you’re doing,” says Laverty. He’s noticed, especially over the past two years, that customers seem to be shifting away from pasta dishes, and leaning more toward proteins, a nice sauce, vegetables, and minimal starch. “One thing that has gone really well is a pan-roasted halibut with roasted pepper couli and succotash, and it was stunning,” says Laverty.

This year’s SCRW menu is a great time to come out and welcome Laverty, who says he’ll be shying away from salads for a few more-exciting appetizers, one entrée that calls back to the comfort food of the South, and a dessert involving in-season pears and apples. 6001 La Madrona Drive, Santa Cruz. 440-1000. (MG)

 

Süda

“What’s nice on the restaurant side is that we’re able to do coursing,” states general manager Ayesha Bonnit, recalling one of her favorite aspects of past Restaurant Weeks. “It was very nice bringing in customers to have a three-course meal and seeing them share with friends.” Bonnit stresses what a great and relaxing dining experience a prix-fixe menu can provide, allowing the guests to enjoy each other’s company in a leisurely manner, and what great conversation can be born from this kind of atmosphere. She says when it comes to the menu, “We’re really excited about all the dishes, introducing items that people want but wouldn’t ordinarily order.” She excitedly offers a teaser about a sure-to-please seasonal dessert option that has never before been served at Süda. “In general, we’re focusing more on seasonal items that keep the menu interesting,” Bonnit adds, also mentioning that they have a specialty cocktail menu with more seasonal surprises that are meant to be paired with the RW menu. 3910 Portola Drive, Santa Cruz. 600-7068, eatsuda.com. (AS)

 

Tyrolean Inn

Suda

Süda

SCRW can be a stressful time at the Tyrolean Inn. But the plus side is that it introduces new people to this wonderful place. “Restaurant Week does create some business. Once it’s happening, it’s exciting. People come in, they ask questions about the place. This restaurant is a little bit of a destination location, so people like to ask questions. It’s always nice to see new people,” says floor manager Hanz LaFrance. They like to stick to basics when it comes to the Restaurant Week menu. “The chef chose things that are on the menu. He hasn’t ventured off it because we’ve been serving this menu for so long,” says LaFrance. “People like that menu … That’s why they come here, for the favorite foods. So that’s what we try and give them.” Hwy. 9, Ben Lomond. 336-5188, tyroleaninn.com. (AC)

 

Water Street Grill

Opening a new restaurant in a spot that was previously a different restaurant—maybe even a few different restaurants—can be tough. That’s a problem owner Jonathan Degeneres ran into when he opened Water Street Grill, which had been YOLO, last year. While Degeneres was actually committed to honoring what YOLO had done, he also had a lot of new elements he wanted Santa Cruz diners to discover. Much to his surprise, his special menu for Santa Cruz Restaurant Week turned out to be just what he needed to make them take notice. “This location has been tough. Last year’s [SCRW] really helped us a lot,” says Degeneres. “It got people excited.” He had tried to keep the menu fairly simple last year, but he’s making Water Street Grill’s SCRW follow-up bigger and better, including a whole lot of fresh organic greens—an appetizer of sautéed radishes with green beans, for instance. He’ll also have some items that are exclusive to SCRW, like the spinach ravioli entrée. 503 Water St., Santa Cruz. 332-6122, thewaterstreetgrill.com. (SP)

 

Your Place

Tyrolean Inn

Tyrolean Inn

Last year was the first time Your Place participated in SCRW, and they were overwhelmed by the huge response. This year, they expect to be fully prepared for the excitement of Restaurant Week at their popular farm-to-table spot known for friendly service. Co-owner/chef Art Russell’s menu will include lots of local produce. One entrée highlight is the redfish snapper. “It’s positive because it’s giving people a chance to come give us a try and talk to us and get to know us and our food,” says co-owner Rachel Wisotsky. “Really what we’re doing here is creating community. In our mind, it’s sort of like a present to the community to be able to offer such a good deal of such fine food. It’s our way of saying, ‘We love ya!’” 1719 Mission St., Santa Cruz. 426-3564, yourplacesc.com. (AC)

 

Zelda’s on the Beach

Zelda’s on the Beach is best known for its lobster and prime rib nights, breakfast, and idyllic location just off the sand of Capitola’s Main Beach. But it’s their dessert sales that see an uptick in the weeks following SCRW, says manager Pam Edmonds.

“Almost every one of our desserts are made in house,” says Edmonds. Not only are they made in-house (available at the coffee bar), but they’re made by a budding baker at Zelda’s who is concurrently enrolled in the culinary program at Cabrillo College. Highlights include a carrot cake and a cheesecake, which will likely be the star of this year’s RW menu at Zelda’s. 203 Esplanade, Capitola. 475-4900, zeldasonthebeach.com. (MG)


Info: During Santa Cruz Restaurant Week, participating restaurants will offer a fixed-price, three-course menu for $25 or $35, not including beverages, tax or gratuity. This year’s SCRW runs from Oct. 12-19. Menus can be found at santacruzrestaurantweek.com.

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