Stonehouse Bar & Grill’s new chef adds creative flair to the menu
As a busy hotel serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, the Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley Hilton caters to business people, travelers, tourists, wedding groups, private parties—you name it. But for locals, too, of course, the hotel’s casual dining room and bar are regular stops.
The Stonehouse Bar & Grill’s informal restaurant has Formica-topped tables and an inviting cozy fireplace that’s welcoming to all, and the friendly full bar is an informal gathering spot to enjoy a cocktail or a glass of wine or two. When my husband and I stopped by the Stonehouse recently for dinner, we were impressed by the quality of service we received, especially from our server Michael Beck.
Starving hungry after a day of hiking, just about everything on the menu appealed to us, but our initial hunger was assuaged with some good dipping oil and balsamic vinegar with chopped garlic—served with fresh crusty bread. We settled on Thai Ahi and Braised Short Ribs as our entrees and both were delicious. My seared sesame-crusted ahi came with a piquant sweet chili sauce and a mound of flavorful jasmine rice and ultra fresh tempura vegetables—all very healthy—but I couldn’t resist a few of my husband’s Cajun steak fries served with his Braised Short Ribs, so I had to steal a few of these tasty fat potato treats.
Although the carefully planned menu has something for everybody’s taste at reasonable prices—steaks, seafood, sandwiches, pasta and more—Executive Chef Eduardo Macotto is shaking things up with his plans to add even more appealing items.
A native of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Macotto moved to the United States when he was 10 years old, and, after 30 years in this country, it’s certainly very much home for him. He moved to the Santa Cruz area last May – with his wife Jennifer and 14-year-old son Nicolas – from Maryland, where Macotto, who cites working with many talented chefs, including the late Charlie Trotter, had 15 years’ cooking experience at Hilton and Sheraton hotels. He’s now very happy to be on the West Coast and loves his new position at the Hilton. But Macotto’s changes to the menu promise some exciting new dishes and flavors, and he looks forward to introducing them to hotel guests and locals by the end of January.
“We’re changing the menu to California style,” says Macotto. “And we want it to be more organic and sustainable, with more vegetarian options as well as vegan. We’re going to do soba noodles and also incorporate more seasonal vegetables into our menu.”
Macotto says that he prefers to use sustainable seafood, and that he is working with his seafood supplier to make sure the fish he orders is of the very best quality. Meat used in the restaurant, some organic, is the highest grade, too, and produce is ultra-fresh.
Macotto has plans to introduce tapas at the bar, but “California style,” he says. Two mouthwatering items he has planned are spicy beef skewers served with a dark beer and cheddar fondue, and zucchini slaw with black beans and rice cake with a ginger and cilantro vinaigrette.
“And we’re going to use a lot more local wine in my ingredients,” he laughs. Sangria shrimp, and also short ribs with local wine will be on the new menu.
Seafood is one of Macotto’s favorite things to cook, and an exciting new menu item coming up is grilled salmon with soba noodles and stir-fried vegetables in a pineapple teriyaki glaze.
Training new chefs in his kitchen is a joy for Macotto, because he absolutely loves cooking. “For me, you have to have a passion for it,” he says of preparing food, “and find the right ingredients every day.”
Stonehouse Bar & Grill, Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley Hilton, 6001 La Madrona Drive, Scotts Valley, 440-1000.