Like many of you, I still miss Kelly’s French Bakery. It has been a beacon at the corner of Swift and Ingalls that paved the way for Westside coffee, post-yoga lunches, pastry treats and later as a platform for food trucks, wine tastings and a gateway hub for umpteen spinoff eating and drinking emporia.
Then there was the pandemic. And now, even in the midst of popular coffee and pastry depots, there’s always room for more. The Kelly’s location is now 11th Hour Coffee, which opened on Halloween with a full barrage of breakfast specialties, panini, coffees, plus local beer and wine. The area’s newest coffee center is brought to the Westside by owners/brothers Joel and Brayden Estby, who’ve won fans over for their fresh-roasted beans at the Food Lounge in downtown Santa Cruz. Be prepared to be amazed! The former Kelly’s interior has been completely and handsomely transformed—and so has the outside patio, lavish with sleek built-in wooden booths, benches and tables. Plus, plenty of tall heat lamps. Seriously, it’s a whole new planet on which to consume your Nitro coffee and avocado toast. Business hours for the attractive coffeehouse expansion are 7am-4pm Mon-Wed, until 7pm Thurs-Sun. 11thhourcoffee.com.
Will Walk for Wine
Of course you will, since it’s time once more for the oenophile’s version of a pub crawl, the Downtown Santa Cruz Fall 2021 Wine Walk, on Sunday, Nov. 14, from 2pm to 5pm.
What you do is head on over to Soif on Walnut, get your $35/$40 ticket, your glass, and your map, and then head on out to lots of different venues (the map shows you), where you’ll be able to taste pours from Assiduous, Bargetto, Birichino, Muns, Pelican Ranch, Random Ridge, Roudon-Smith, Cruz and Wrights Station. You’ll essentially be tasting your way through boutiques, retail hot spots, various salons and mercantile. Outdoor tasting? Yes! Remember: you must be 21 or older with valid ID and show proof of Covid vaccination. For tickets and info, go to eventbrite.com.
A Night at GabriellaA packed house, inside and out, greeted us last week at Gabriella Cafe—a memorable dinner. It felt like dining at the house of a good friend—as it always does, thanks to the laid-back vigilance of owner/host Paul Cocking. Great service and a relentlessly excellent kitchen served us dish after dish of distinctive flavors, including a pan-seared local coho salmon ($42) atop a bed of broccoli, baby carrots and rich, creamy polenta. On top of the moist seafood lay a thick glaze of chimichurri sauce, which I consider an excuse to visit Gabriella all by itself. Our poet companion managed to consume half the tender lamb shank on his generous entree ($42) while saving room to taste other dishes. We all three feasted on a starter of roast beets, arugula and chevre with an intriguing pistachio and candied citrus puree ($12). Outstanding. Also, a plate of perfect late-harvest tomatoes from Live Earth Farms, layered with fresh basil and slices of buffalo mozzarella—a truly satisfying Caprese ($12).
A simple dish, simple elements, but a complex whole greater than the sum of its parts. Most unexpected was an evening special of watermelon gazpacho gorgeously presented—long, crisp ribbons of tortilla, transparent slices of cucumber, radish, onion and cubes of fresh watermelon, arrayed in a wide bowl of cool crimson soup, and bites of ripe avocado in each spoonful ($11). We were all three blown away by this example of chef Gema Cruz’s ability to reinvent familiar dishes. Kudos to one of the sweetest dining spots in this or any region. Gabriella Cafe – Tues-Fri, lunch 11am; dinner 5pm. Sat/Sun brunch 10am. 910 Cedar St., gabriellacafe.com.