.Cocktail Hour at Hotel Paradox’s Solaire Restaurant

Solaire, an elegant landscape of dove-grey upholstery unfurled between the swimming pool and lobby of Hotel Paradox, is graced with more than its share of mood. Especially at the magic hour when the sun begins to lower just enough to splash low light across the sparkling bar.

Such a great spot to unwind, either at the bar or on couches in front of the fireplace, as we did last week. I had my palate set for one of the house signature cocktails and found just the thing in a “Santa Cruz 75,” a generous martini glass full of chilled Venus small batch gin inflected with Prosecco, the haunting nuance of elderflower and the bite of fresh lime. A great rendezvous with a friend, and given the quantity of stylish liquor, a bargain at $12.

Partnering the striking botanicals of this cocktail, we chose the Coconut Prawns with sweet chile sauce ($8) from the “Bar Bites” menu. And what arrived proved to be a luscious, crunchy quartet of fat prawns enfolded in an expert deep-fry of coconut cream batter. The slightly bitter perfume of the gin made a brilliant counterpoint to the slightly sweet coating on the prawns. Haven’t had a fried appetizer this wonderful—served hot from the kitchen—in many years. My companion found her “Equinox” cocktail of vodka, Aperol, elderflower and lemon juice a bit on the sweet side. Beautiful, pale pink in its sugar-rimmed cocktail glass, but I had to admit that my gin-intensive adult beverage was much more refreshing and palate-sparkling. The low light raking across the attractive dining room made for sophisticated eye candy as we sipped. Yes, we agreed, this is the perfect time of day to hit Solaire, where the bartender knows what he’s doing. Solaire, in the Hotel Paradox, 611 Ocean St., Santa Cruz. hotelparadox.com.

Pop a Wheelie:

Food trucks return to Skypark in Scotts Valley this Friday, with a nifty little dinner, drinks, and swing dance party from 5-8 p.m. Swing into Spring will offer complimentary swing lessons, thanks to the pros from Swing Set Lounge, followed by dancing from 6-8 p.m. Take a swing at dancing, or simply sip and sample from the onsite brews and food truck possibilities. Foodtrucksagogo.com will fill you in on this Friday night special. Heads up—Food Trucks A Go Go brings food truck lunches to the Wrigley Building every Thursday, 11 a.m-1:30 p.m. Lots to choose from—check it out.

Brew News

Yay! Humble Sea Brewing Co. opened its Westside taproom last week to the wild acclaim of as many thirsty fans as could fit into the patio/corral that borders Swift Street (a half block up from El Salchichero). The brainchild of Taylor West, Nick Pavlina, and Frank Scott Krueger, the newest house of fresh libations—in an already well-populated saloon neighborhood—will offer tasty matching brew bites and loads of ambience in the Stripe Design Group-finessed taproom. Grand opening coming this summer. Also, chef Brad Briske and his Home team plan a first-ever beer dinner with Corralitos Brewing Co. on Sunday, April 2. Four courses paired with fresh brew. Limited seating—expect astonishing flavors—email [email protected] or call 334-2134. Home is where the heart is. It’s also at 3101 N. Main St., Soquel.

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Rich and hungry?

Got a spare $255? Then consider joining the fresh fisherfolk from H&H, plus SF chef Jonnatan Leiva, on May 27 at the Secret Sea Cave (North Coast Santa Cruz) installment of Outstanding in the Field’s al fresco dinner series. Need something more expensive? Join the chefs and farmers in Burgundy, France on Aug. 27: bring 245 euros. Details at outstandinginthefield.com.


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