Pretty Good Advice
Dining Reviews

Soquel’s Pretty Good Advice Off To Pretty Great Start

Casual vibe, quality ingredients at Michelin-winning chef’s new local outpost

PHOTO: JULES HOLDSWORTH

Warm and casual is the vibe at Soquel’s new breakfast and lunch spot, Pretty Good Advice, the brainchild of former SF chef Matt McNamara. A short menu of morning and noontime items is well stocked with outstanding breads and pastries created by Jen Jackson, while McNamara’s charcuterie recipes round out the house entrée offerings.

A recent morning visit rewarded us with outstanding Cat & Cloud coffee, plus a textbook cinnamon babka ($4), a tangy honey-thyme scone ($3.50) and ricotta toast with quince butter ($4.50)—all baked on the premisses in the exhibition kitchen that takes up half the tiny interior. Indoor picnic seating establishes the tone of PGA, while the café’s outdoor seating will be an obvious summer magnet for those who crave conversation and sunshine.

The ricotta toast was intriguing. The thick slab of bread—served, as is everything at PGA, in a coated paper basket—wasn’t actually toasted, but it was as warm and delicious any pain de campagne I’ve ever tasted. The thyme-scented scone exploded with flavor and texture, and we look forward to sampling more sweet and savory creations from this experimental baker.

Counter service rules here at Pretty Good Advice: you order, pay, take a number, gather your utensils, and pour your coffee into paper carry-out cups. No glass, ceramic, cloth, or metal in the place. At lunch we had a chance to sample the sophisticated entrée plates, which arrive partnered with toasted housemade bread, baby carrots, some pretty lettuces, and fresh pickles. The small portions are very attractive, though it’s difficult to cut through the ham and bread with the black plastic utensils provided.

Our favorite lunch item was the pork paté with grilled ham ($9.50). Paired with crunchy toast points, mustard (some mayo would also be welcome), and little pickles, this was the most substantial lunch by far. The small portion of green goddess salad ($6) was indeed small, but intensely flavored and liberally tossed with parmesan and avocado. The roasted garlic croutons were very thin. Tiny, crunchy and delicious. The classic though mild chicken terrine ($9) came with little carrots and pickled kumquat, plus toast and greens. It was a pretty grouping of ingredients, but a small portion. LeBron would need two orders. A dessert of griddled Meyer lemon loaf ($6) was delicious topped with whipped cream, fresh mint and bits of mandarin. I hope the menu expands.

Pretty Good Advice is open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday. 3070 Porter St., Soquel. 226-2805, prettygoodadvicesoquel.com.

Catch of the Day

Deciding that seafood is misunderstood and needs to be cast in a sustainable light, the folks from One Fish Foundation (onefishfoundation.org) are hosting a KNOW FISH dinner next Sunday, March 17, at 5 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Food Lounge.

Expect a show-and-tell dinner, where you’ll dine on fresh, delicious and responsibly harvested seafood while you learn more about what “responsibly harvested” really means. The hardest-working act in the the local fish biz, Ocean2table entrepreneurs Ian Cole and Charlie Lambert, will be on hand to tell stories about how they caught and processed the seafood you’ll be eating.

Chef Diego Felix of Colectivo Felix will fill participants in on the importance of sourcing locally harvested seafood, and you’ll learn about the changing “seascape” for domestic and global seafood. Tickets: $60 (plus tax and gratuity). eventbrite.com.

A California Michelin

The first ever statewide Michelin Guide California will launch this summer. In addition to the previously covered San Francisco Bay Area and wine country, the new all-California Michelin Guide will include restaurants in greater Los Angeles, Monterey, Orange County, Sacramento, San Diego, and Santa Barbara.

Christina Waters was born in Santa Cruz and raised all over the world (thanks to an Air Force dad), with real-world training in painting, music, winetasting, trail running, organic gardening, and teaching. She has a PhD in Philosophy, teaches in the Arts at UCSC and sings with the UCSC Concert Choir. Look for her recent memoir “Inside the Flame” at bookstores everywhere.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Kevin and Kathleen

    March 13, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    The key word here for Pretty Good Advice-pretty small portions (and not cheap)
    Went for breakfast when they first opened-unfortunately, as a practicing Ketoist, offerings were very limited. I may go back and try them for a lunch time meal-

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