Breakfast for lunch? Why not? Beer with that? You bet! Chef/owner of the Kitchen at Discretion, Santos Majano, is excited about his new Octagon project at downtown Santa Cruzâ€™s Abbott Square. Like most of us, he wants it to go online yesterday, but the reality is probably late summer.
â€œOur place inside the Octagon was added after the original project, so it will take longer to get ready,â€ he explains. â€œThe other six shops have to open firstâ€”and all at once.â€
Meanwhile heâ€™s busy renovating the former Lulu Carpenterâ€™s Octagon interior for food service and applying for licenses.
â€œIt will probably be August or so,â€ he says with a grin. Fine. But Iâ€™m hungry now! What I wanted was the snapper taco I saw on Richard Alfaroâ€™s Facebook page last week. Santos laughs. â€œNot today. Tuesday is ramen day,â€ he says.
I had already sampled the incredibleâ€”and hugeâ€”ramen creation. I wanted something new. â€œThe duck egg and smoked potatoes. Thatâ€™s what you should have,â€ he says.
I figured he should know. Along with a tiny 3-ounce glass ($2) of a new house IPA called Jugo Nuevoâ€”a pale, cloudy, golden hue with a caramel center and a grapefruit finishâ€”I dug into a beautiful plate of red and green lettuces and smoked potatoes, decorated with fresh peas and heroic spears of asparagus. On top of this gorgeous mess was a plump poached duck egg, and everything was perfumed with chile oil and micro toasted bread crumbs ($13). To. Die. For! It was a lunch that brought with it the mighty elements of a hearty breakfastâ€”eggs and potatoes. The little glass of beer seemed to have been made just for this luscious dish. And to think I was sitting in a quiet, secluded gastropub/brewery just a few feet away from busy 41st Avenue.
Discretion Brewing, open daily 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; 2703 41st Ave., Soquelâ€”next door to Cafe Cruz.
Cocktail of the Week
The Old Colonel (donâ€™t laugh) at Soif is a serious, delicious, undeniably masculine drink. Shaken and poured over ice into a low-slung tumbler are Diplomatico Reserva rum, Ponal French vermouth, lime, and plenty of mint. The result is both refreshing and quite delicious, with a suggestion of cola (perhaps from Ponalâ€™s gentian?). You could tinker around with these basic ingredients at home. On the other hand you wouldnâ€™t be sipping the Old Colonel in the metro chic setting of Soifâ€™s bar, would you? Ask bartender Manni about the drinkâ€™s name.
Entree of the Week
Once again, weâ€™ve fallen for the chicken tandoori up at Scotts Valleyâ€™s popular new Ambrosia, home of authentic Indian cookery served by a very warm and welcoming staff. For $12 we are presented with a sizzling platter filled with a half chicken, chopped into easy-access pieces, tinged crimson by the spicy yogurt marinade that gives each bite a luscious moist flavor. The chicken pieces sit on top of a bed of onion, whose aroma rises up and permeates the chicken. On top, a dusting of freshly chopped cilantro adds its own olfactory note. Slices of lime accompany, and its juices make each bite sparkle.
Last week we added an order of saffron rice, plus another entree of fiery lamb vindaloo ($15), whose rich meat sauce also went well with the chicken. When I ordered, I was reminded by the server that the lamb vindaloo is quite spicy. For the record, the vindaloo was assertive but not tongue-numbing spicy. Wonderful.
Ambrosia India Bistro, 6006 La Madrona Drive (across the street from the Hilton), Scotts Valley.