Any Given Sunday

dining cloudsdictClouds Downtown now serves a creative combination of Sunday brunch dishes, as well as three day-long happy hours

Heading downtown for brunch on a Sunday morning has always been a pleasant treat. And now you can enjoy it on Church Street, where Clouds’ Sunday brunch is served with a four-piece jazz ensemble.

Knotted violet cloth napkins on each table matched the paint on the hip-high wall, which separates the dining area from the lounge, where a lively all-day happy hour was in full-swing. Televisions above the full bar ensured we wouldn’t miss a single baseball play.

The aroma of cinnamon arose from a napkin-covered basket. Whipped butter melted quickly into the airy interiors of the perfectly shaped, warm muffins it contained. Strong, cold iced tea, and even stronger Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company coffee hit the spot. Coffee drinks ($7) topped with whipped cream are mixed with your favorite libations, from Tia Maria and rum, to Bailey’s, Kahlúa and Grand Marnier. If you’re in the mood for an endless mimosa ($9), you’ll likely have time for numerous refills.

House-made items appear throughout the brunch menu, such as ranch dressing, gravy and biscuits. Numerous southern-inspired dishes include biscuits and gravy with eggs and potatoes, fried chicken and biscuits, and fried chicken with a waffle.

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Sandwiches ($10 to $11) feature the Clouds’ Club with fresh roasted turkey, and the Crispy Chicken Ranch on a hoagie roll.

Eggs Benedict ($11) is made in numerous fashions, including with crab cakes or bacon. On our plate, thin patties of house-made sausage, flecked with chili flakes, cradled perfectly poached eggs and light Hollandaise sauce. The hash browns were decidedly crisp on both sides and soft in the middle.

Four thick triangles of French Toast ($9) were spread with mascarpone cheese. Warm bananas Foster, sautéed in Sailor Jerry spiced rum, were joined by fresh blueberries, a sliced strawberry, and a pitcher of warm syrup.

There are afternoon happy hours Wednesday through Saturday from 3:30 until 6:30 p.m., which make Clouds a great stop after work. Additionally, Sundays all-day happy hour is repeated on Mondays and 

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Tuesdays, and with half-priced appetizers it’s a nice lunch deal.

It was a quiet Tuesday afternoon when I stopped by for a happy hour glass of red wine ($3.50) and some snacks. Two long skewers of ginger-scented Teriyaki Beef ($5), with nicely caramelized end pieces and chewy but tender and meaty medium-rare nuggets were set on a plate drizzled with sweet soy reduction and piquant sriracha chili sauce. There was enough meat here for two main courses.

Skewers of Chicken Satay ($5) arrived next. Each of six skewers was packed with tender morsels of chicken. A timbale held thick, house-made peanut sauce, to which I added additional sriracha. Any night at Clouds, dinner for two ($36) includes a bottle of house wine. On Wednesdays you’ll find pot roast ($8.95) with potatoes and stout gravy, and on Saturdays, live music.

Clouds Downtown, 110 Church St., Santa Cruz, 429-2000. Full bar. Open daily from 11:30 a.m. until midnight, with Sunday brunch served from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Visit cloudsdowntown.com.

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