At Hollins House Restaurant, a new chef and menu complement the original vision for Pasatiempo
Marion Hollins, the U.S. Women’s Amateur Golf Champion in 1921, was also the only American woman with a handicap in men’s polo. In designing the championship golf course at Pasatiempo, her vision was to take advantage of the local topography, and indeed, golfers tee off across canyons, and the seemingly hundreds of bunkers hold more sand than Its Beach. Her home, now Hollins House Restaurant, looks out over the manicured first fairway and sports a new chef who also draws heavily from local and natural sources.
The main dining room, with widely spaced tables and a fireplace at each end, is enhanced by crystal chandeliers and large uncurtained windows which look out to Monterey. Instrumental flamenco music contributed to the comfortable mood at lunch.
Three sweet Pan-Seared Dayboat Scallops ($12), so named because they are hand-harvested instead of trawled, were browned nicely on the outside, soft and buttery inside, and served atop a parsley-flecked butter, and tart Eureka lemon sauce.
The Club Sandwich ($10), served on three thin slices of lightly toasted sourdough included creamy avocado, multicolored heirloom tomatoes and ruffled green lettuce with roasted Diestel turkey breast, and soft, chewy apple wood-smoked bacon. The thin, crisp lattices of house-made potato chips were incredible.
Large doors open into the adjacent Tap Room where we enjoyed dinner. Here, the ambiance is more casual, and historic photos line the pale green walls. The hot pink Mandarin-Pomegranate Martini ($9), made with Absolut mandarin vodka and fresh lime juice, was sweet, tart, and dangerously drinkable. Warm slices of crusty, soft sourdough bread were served with balsamic vinegar and nice, earthy olive oil.
I could actually see and taste crab in the two San Francisco-style Crab Cakes ($10). Not burdened with starchy binder, the delicately seasoned pan-roasted patties were extremely moist and creamy inside; rather the consistency of mayonnaise. Pink aioli tasted of smoky roasted red pepper, and fresh rocket greens offered a mild bitterness.
The velvety mound of Torn Living Butter Lettuce Salad ($9) was drizzled with light golden balsamic dressing and served with sweet lacquered pecans and more bacon.
The prix fixe dinner of the evening ($50) included the crab cakes and salad along with Black Angus New York steak. Two thick triangles of beef, lined with perpendicular grill marks, were perfectly medium rare and finished with wonderfully bold Tellicherry peppercorns. It was served with local smoky grilled asparagus and layers of paper-thin slices of Yukon Gold potatoes au gratin.
The dense meat of a thick Pan-Roasted Double-Cut Heirloom Berkshire Pork Chop ($28) was deglazed with white wine and topped with tart capers.
During dessert, colorful lights twinkled from the Giant Dipper in the distance. Crème Brûlée, served with the prix fixe, was soft and creamy with a crunchy glazed sugar top. I was astonished at the Mousse Sampler ($10). Three edible dark and white-streaked chocolate cups, roughly the size of tennis balls, each held a scoop of the whipped French dessert; white chocolate with coconut, milk chocolate with caramel, and dark chocolate with hazelnuts.
Hollins House, 20 Clubhouse Road, Santa Cruz, 459-9155. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Visit pasatiempo.com.