The Crow’s Nest celebrates 40 years of salads, seafood, sunsets, and sociability
A considerable school of small fish broke the water’s surface, dappling it like raindrops and inciting two dozen pelicans to dive-bomb headfirst after them in rapid succession. Sleek pinnipeds joined in the frenzy, their shiny furred bodies leaping, spinning and splashing. This is just one of the many sunset performances staged nightly outside The Crow’s Nest, the popular beachfront restaurant and lounge now celebrating its 40th birthday.
Deciding to begin with a cocktail, and sporting a big fat wrap on my newly broken foot, we took the elevator to the second floor’s Breakwater Grill, where the tables were perfectly sized to comfortably accommodate wheelchair dining.
The busy room was abuzz with spirited conversation. The menu served here all day includes appetizers, salads, sandwiches and a selection of entrées. But tonight guests welcomed the return of “Deal with a View” ($6.95). Monday through Thursday nights, a trip to the well-stocked salad bar comes with choice of a Tuscan Chicken Sandwich, Aloha Burger, or Fish Tacos.
Anticipating our dinner reservation downstairs, we ordered two appetizers. The Prawn Martini ($8.50) featured five large crustaceans dangling around a martini glass. Although some of the randomly sized chunks of avocado were laced with brown veins and blemishes, the smooth, horseradish-enhanced cocktail sauce was delicious. Firm hunks of translucent ahi-colored Smoked Salmon ($9.95), sweetened by their teriyaki-like marinade, were served with rich wasabi-spiced aioli.
Downstairs, the walls and ceilings were of fine polished wood like the inside of a schooner. Softly lit by fluorescents, the edges and carvings in glass room dividers by local company Heatherglass refracted a neon aqua glow.
Crusty warm rolls were served with a rosette of soft, salted butter. Petite Prime Grade Top Sirloin ($17.50) with crisp grill marks was pleasantly pink inside. The Chef’s special steak sauce, redolent of rosemary, was thick, dark, sweet, and tart. The bright broccoli was still crisp, and the warm baked potato was heaped with sour cream, fresh chives and crumbled bacon.
From the long list of daily specials, tender, local Sablefish ($19.95), was blackened and drizzled with lemon aioli sweetened with saffron. Plenty of rich roasted garlic gave an earthy lusciousness to the mashed potatoes.
To celebrate its 1969 unveiling, The Crow’s Nest, which has been owned and runned by the dynamic Ted Burke and Bob Munsey, is offering a Retro lunch and dinner menu ($19.69) Monday through Thursday downstairs. On Mondays enjoy Filet Mignon with a glass of wine or well martini. Tuesday is Lobster Tail Night. Three menu options are available on Wednesdays and Thursdays, each with wine or martini. All of these meals include the salad bar, normally $5.95 with entrées.
Upstairs on Wednesdays from 3:30 p.m., Happy Hour lasts all night, with specially priced pints, well drinks and wine ($3.30), and half-priced appetizers. You may also enjoy entertainment most nights of the week.
The Crow´s Nest Restaurant, Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor, 2218 East Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz, 476-4560. Full Bar. Serving lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday—Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Serving dinner nightly from 5:30 p.m. weekdays, and from 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Visit crowsnest-santacruz.com.