Dining Reviews

Splash Opens on the Wharf

Craft cocktails, seafood and ocean views at the wharf’s long-awaited ‘Splash’

Germaine Akin, owner of 515, Red, and the new restaurant on the wharf, Splash. PHOTO: CHIP SCHEUER

Schools of silver fish swim along the ceiling of the glamorous new Splash, echoing the silver glints of sun reflecting on the water outside. The long-awaited brainchild of Germaine Akin (owner of Red and 515) and Martin Drobac, opened softly last weekend to spectacular views of surfers, swimmers, and sailboats—and even the water below the wharf, thanks to embedded glass “viewpoints” in the restaurant’s floor.

Two bars—a third if you count the oyster bar—greet patrons, the front bar lined with aquamarine lava lamps, the back featuring, yes, a rotating floor, which means that everyone sitting at this showcase circular bar has a view of the ocean.

Akin left no detail unattended in appointing her latest restaurant. Serpentine banquettes curve deeply enough to mimic private booths, smartly upholstered in hypnotic abstract patterns. A long table welcomes large parties in the center of the dining room, next to a hemispherical booth big enough to hold eight.

With Martin’s brother Peter Drobac greeting the invited group of guests last week, the soft opening went brilliantly. And gorgeous cocktails (we’d expect no less from the mixology standards set by the 515 and Red) were the rule.

We started with a fine Caesar salad and munched on warm beer-battered artichokes. Fab with house tarragon ranch dressing. The fried chokes arrived in a yellow enamel, napkin-lined colander. Katya’s entree of New York steak was done exactly as requested, and arrived with scalloped potatoes and pencil-thin steamed asparagus. My lobster mac and cheese involved gooey, delicious orecchiette pasta oozing with Gouda, Swiss and Parmesan cheeses embedded with fat chunks of moist tender lobster. The menu, so far, sticks to updated seafood house classics.

The views of the water are unsurpassed, but there are so many sweet details at Splash, from aquatic murals on the ceiling to sleek recycled wood on floors and lots of other chic touches. Dreamy and exciting all at once. And, thanks to the digital ocean projections after dark in the lounge area, Splash is bound to make an after-hour ripple. On our way out, we took a moment to gawk at the bronze fountain of decoratively interlocking octopuses, by UCSC foundry star Sean Monaghan.

All in all, we liked what we saw and tasted. Splash was worth the wait. Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, open daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m. 466-9766.


Inspired Surf Food Stop

From the restless culinary genius of FranThe Truck StopGrayson, comes an idea that was way overdue in the West Cliff Drive neighborhood. Now there’s a place to sit, grab some super delicious power food and drink, and check out the waves at the same time. It’s Steamer Lane Supply, designed and built by the super-clever Grayson. Those inviting aqua chairs out front are your invitation to scarf down a serious quesadilla or poke bowl with fruit drink, and refuel after a morning on the waves. Even if you’re just walking from the wharf over to Lighthouse Point, you’re sure to spot this low-key cafe right next to the shower and parking lot. From Tuesday through Sunday, from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. (expanded hours coming soon), the sleek little kitchen, counter and outdoor seating offers freshly made easy-to-eat items, plus the killer orange “S” logo is visible from a mile away.

If you’ve ever fallen in love with Grayson’s Truck Stop-enlightened fresh fish tacos, you’ll be mad for Steamer Lane Supply. It does just what it says. Inspired street food is now inspired surf food. Come by and hang out.


Wine of the Week  

The bold Tannat-Merlot-Zinfandel blend from Uruguay’s Artesana (available at Soif), offers the tannic glamor of Uruguay’s top red grape, softened brilliantly by Merlot and Zinfandel. Both graceful and yet robust, this supple beauty is capable of partnering pasta and barbecue with style. Try the 2013, at Soif, priced in the low 20s.  

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