Companion Bakeshop Alderwood openings
Dining Reviews

Big 2019 Openings on Santa Cruz Food Scene

Long-anticipated Alderwood set to begin seating; Companion Bakeshop settles into Aptos

Companion Bakeshop opened a new Aptos outpost late last year. PHOTO: JULES HOLDSWORTH

No, you can never have enough of a good thing, and that’s why everyone’s crazy about the new Companion Bakeshop settling into its third location in Aptos, in addition to Mission Street and Abbott Square Market.

Folks in Aptos can now start their days with serious coffee and pastries at the new Companion in Aptos Center next to Taqueria Los Gordos and Aptos Natural Foods. In the former Heather’s Patisserie slot, Companion has expanded into a light, airy, L-shaped space bordered with plenty of outdoor table seating.

On two recent visits I enjoyed the house Cat & Cloud brew, plus some of my favorite pastries—the spectacular almond croissant and the glazed palmier that never fails to offer tender, flaky crunch.

The latest Companion sports a full line of those sourdough boules we’re addicted to, and patrons can watch the baking process through a long glass wall in the back. Alas, there’s no bread slicing machine at this location, which means you’ll have to try out your own carving skills when you take home that walnut loaf.

The pleasant staff is still learning the complex ropes of creating macchiati while finessing pastry orders—all of which is served on small, rectangular metal trays. Two of my companions approved of this interesting serving strategy, but some found it a bit awkward for containing round saucers.

Companion Aptos has already found a lively, grateful clientele, and if more tables and chairs fill in some of the unused interior, even more folks will be able to sit down and enjoy the house specialties.

Companion Bakeshop at Aptos Center, 7486 Soquel Drive, Aptos. Open 7 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat. & Sun. Closed Mon. 252-2253, companionbakeshop.com.

Bargetto’s New Leaf

A new house wine, named Common Vines, is being produced exclusively for New Leaf Community Markets by the venerable house of Bargetto. Already, a 2017 Chardonnay and a 2017 Pinot Noir are available at a very affordable $13.99.

“We wanted to partner with a well-respected, local producer,” explains New Leaf wine buyer Oliver Carter. “Bargetto is the perfect fit. They’ve been making wine for over 80 years in a classic California style.”

Smart move on the part of a premier natural food store, which plans to offer more custom-label wines in the near future.

Opening Updates

For adventurous eaters, we have our very first entirely gluten-free, non-GMO, organic restaurant, Primal Santa Cruz, located at the corner of Laurel and Mission on the Westside. The Primal philosophy is bold. “All of our proteins and fats come from grass-fed, organic sources,” their website says. “Our fish is wild. Our produce is local, seasonal, and organic.” In addition to serving Verve coffee, Primal SC stocks organic wines and GF beers. The goal is to offer “real food” that hasn’t been processed, enhanced, tinkered with or modified. An ambitious mission indeed. Joseph Mullens of Cafe Cruz will be on board to finesse the paleo-centric menu, which is broad enough to appeal to those with dietary restrictions as well as those intent upon meat in all its forms. Seems right for the 19th year of the 21st century.

In the “something for everyone” department, there’s also now a feel-good, non-threatening Olive Garden Italian Restaurant open in Capitola offering comfort dining that will make you happy, your children happy, and your grandmother happy. Near Macy’s behind the Capitola Mall, the new Olive Garden is very large, and the menu ranges from lasagne and scampi to tiramisu and cannoli.

And this just in…

Alderwood: now open as of December 29.

Primal Santa Cruz, 1203 Mission St. Mon.-Thu., 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. ’til 10 p.m., Sun ’til 8:30 p.m. primalsantacruz.com.

Alderwood, 155 Walnut St., Santa Cruz. 588-3238, alderwoodsantacruz.com.

Olive Garden Italian Restaurant, Capitola Mall. Daily 11a.m.-10 p.m. 462-0120.

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.

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