spring feasts Jack O'Neill Restaurant
Dining Reviews

Spring Feasts From India Joze to Jack O’Neill Restaurant

A Persian New Year celebration, ‘Murder from Scratch’ and a Dream Inn dining makeover

Jack O'Neill Restaurant and Lounge recently opened in the former Aquarius restaurant space at the Dream Inn.

If the first day of spring is near, then so is the Persian New Year. To celebrate, chef Jozseph Schultz plans to dazzle your taste buds with his annual multi-course Persian feast on March 17. In addition to food, the evening will include hypnotic dancing from House of Inanna.

The knowledgeable chef of India Joze, a one-man culinary Wikipedia, will also provide “the table history of Persian Cuisine.” Expect culinary offerings involving pomegranate-cream-mint reduction sauce, lamb perfumed by spices, chicken wok’d in a Persian apricot-orange flower glaze, and toasted almond herb pilaf. Preparation styles and spicing combos promise to be the stars. Course after course, this is truly a meal to remember. Tickets very limited.

To intensify the journey through India Joze’ Persian New Year festivities, adventurous diners and dancers might also want to leap over al fresco flames the evening of March 19.

“It’s always the last Tuesday before the vernal equinox. Wednesdays start on Tuesday eve, just like the Jewish calendar,” the chef explains. “Coincidence? I don’t think so.” He also adds that “this ritual drumming and dancing reenacts the chasing out of the last unlucky Wednesday of the year. So on Tuesday, March 19 at India Joze, we build fires in the parking lot and invite all comers to jump the flames and burn away their past obstacles to happiness and prosperity in the coming year.” Removing obstacles. Sounds intriguing.

Make reservations for the March 17 dinner, starting at 5 p.m., at 831-325-3633. Cost $45 per person. India Joze, 418 Front St., Santa Cruz. indiajoze.com

Karst’s Kitchen

Fans of Sally Solari, the resourceful fictional restaurateur-turned-sleuth, will welcome the newest installment of her adventures when Murder from Scratch is released next month. The fourth murder mystery by Santa Cruz’s own Leslie Karst—former lawyer, trained chef and talented alto—Murder from Scratch once again combines restaurant ambience, a questionable death, and professional tensions in a literary bouillabaisse set right here in Santa Cruz.

In this latest caper, Karst’s fanbase will find protagonist Solari embroiled in dysfunctional family issues, which this time includes a cousin’s death. Solari thinks it’s no accident and the investigation takes her into the highly competitive world of commercial cookery. Lots of plot twists, well-seasoned(!) with a few choice recipes.

Kudos to Karst, a woman who can keep a deadline simmering. Watch the skies for an April release of Murder from Scratch.

lesliekarstauthor.com

Room with a View

The Dream Inn has just unveiled its new Jack O’Neill Restaurant in the former Aquarius, a dining and drinking spot that offers patrons the most spectacular view possible of the Santa Cruz wharf without the need for a wetsuit. (Apologies to the man who invented the wetsuit.)

The newly spiffed up Jack O’Neill also offers live music starting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

Executive chef Ken Drew is still fine-tuning a new menu that will feature local ingredients, such as a Corralitos sausage sampler. Expect plenty of local craft beers, wines and designer cocktails featuring Venus Spirits.

Jack O’Neill Restaurant and Lounge at the Dream Inn, 175 W Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz. (866) 966-0529, jackoneillrestaurant.com

Sotola Update

Welcome aboard to siblings Jill and John Ealy, who along with colleague Josh Parmelee are the new owners of Capitola’s Sotola Bar & Grill located at 231 Esplanade, next to the bridge. I look forward to tasting the new menu and enjoying the dreamy view from the Sotola deck. Join me.

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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