What’s old is cutting-edge again in Felton
The oldest building in Felton is now home to one of the city’s most cutting-edge restaurants and alehouses. The Cremer House, which was opened by Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery owner Emily Thomas and Felton/Boulder Creek New Leaf owner Bob Locatelli in December, combines all the latest trends in beer and gastropub eats. The emphasis is on carrying delicious pub food, but healthy and organic. We spoke with Thomas about her new place.
GT: How have you incorporated the character of the building into your restaurant’s ambiance?
EMILY THOMAS: We wanted to recreate the historical aspect of it in the interior, basically letting the history of the building inspire us. It took us a long time. Bob and I have been working on it for four years. There were definitely structural challenges. It’s an old building. I grew up in the San Lorenzo Valley, and I’ve always had an affinity for that building. It’s the oldest building in Felton. For the last 10 years it’s sat vacant.
A lot of the focus of the menu seems to be portion. Why is that?
I call it a vessel-based menu. I just have always loved old containers. Our menu is jars and boards and baskets and skillets, so like a cast iron skillet or an old jar. We want to make food that is trend proof, and pays tribute to the historic nature of the building—but, you know, ale-house inspired. Serve the classic American food, but prepared with high-quality ingredients.
One of the most interesting examples of how you infuse beer in your food is the “hopcorn.” What is that?
We dress the popcorn with a hop oil. You can taste the bitterness of the hops. It’s kind of a play on popcorn. It’s a bitter snack. It incorporates the richness. There’s an aged Parmesan cheese and herbs, so you get a lot of flavor components.
What inspired you to have so many vegetarian-friendly menu items?
In the San Lorenzo Valley, there aren’t a lot of options. Instead of just having a couple of things, 50 percent of our menu is vegetarian. It’s really easy when you live in Santa Cruz to get good vegetarian food. My best friends are vegetarian. Their complaints about veggie burgers is that most places use prepackaged burger. So we wanted to make one that was in-house and have it be unique. Ours is a curry red lentil burger, offset with a mango chutney, yogurt, and a mint cilantro chutney, too. So there are lots of flavors.
6256 Highway 9, Felton. 335-3976. PHOTO: Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery owner Emily Thomas is a partner in Felton’s new Cremer House. CHIP SCHEUER