.Soquel Mainstay Cafe Cruz Continues to Flourish

Bold flavors, generous portions, freshly brought to the car—some of the joys of our takeout dinner from Cafe Cruz last week. Always irresistible, the menu at this Soquel landmark has been honed and polished to please the palate. So yes, my partner definitely wanted Maryland crab cakes ($16) with Napa cabbage slaw. And I zeroed in on the house linguine ($22), with an addition of grilled skirt steak ($13). It all sounded good on a chilly evening. And it tasted even better.

The crab cakes, plump and full of mustardy herbs, spices and crab, came with a little fluff of organic greens and a container of lemony aioli ($16). Still warm when they arrived at our house, the seafood appetizer was perfect to share—one for each of us—along with glasses of Austrian Gruner Veltliner. The candlelight added sparkle to the environment. We’ve found that carryout prospers from taking a little care with the dining environment. So we amp up the Cafe Cruz dishes with a little Brian Eno, candlelight and a finishing cheese platter—Brie, St. Augur bleu, parmesan reggiano and some aged jack.

The linguine was so much fun to consume. Plump pasta slathered with garlic, fennel butter sauce flecked generously with capers, artichoke hearts, roasted tomatoes and kalamata olive tapenade. Once I began I had trouble stopping! The grilled steak had been done exactly right—rare—and was abundantly sliced into tenderizing diagonals, emphasis on tender. There was plenty for the two of us to share, and we honored the meal by opening a special Cigare Volant 2016 that I’d purchased a few years ago when Randall Grahm was offering a special deal on his spectacular Rhone blend. Total disclosure: We keep little bowls of two different salts on our dining table: sea salt flakes—it’s fascinating to find perfectly shaped salt pyramids in the mix—as well as that lightly aromatic blend from Vignalta, perfumed by lavender and other herbs from the Mediterranean. The entire meal was a pleasure from start to finish, the late bite of Brie on gluten-free crackers topped with a slice of quince paste. Living large can help get you through even a pandemic. Kudos to the kitchen at Cafe Cruz. 2521 41st Ave., Soquel. Open daily 11:30am-9pm (Sun 5-9).

Farewell to India Joze

A personal thanks, ave et vale, to Jozseph Schultz for all the memorable meals during the past many decades. Of the top ten meals I’ve ever eaten—including in New York, Paris, San Francisco and that beach in Mexico—five of them have been at India Joze. Thanks for the memories!

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South End News

As Big Basin Vineyards prepares to open up its new location at the south end of Pacific Avenue, we can also look ahead to the opening of the wine tasting room’s neighbor, a new Cafe Iveta. The popular Delaware Avenue café’s proprietor John Bilanko tells me that with Covid interruptions, permit reviews, bureaucratic delays, nonetheless “construction is underway and moving quickly. However, because of supply chain issues, we are experiencing significant delays and backorders on the kitchen equipment. So our best guess is opening at the end of Q1 or the beginning of Q2.” In other words, Spring 2022. Premium wines by Bradley Brown, espresso drinks, fresh pastries and specialty foods will definitely add some action to the part of town near the Warriors arena and the Boardwalk. Spring can’t come soon enough!

Product of the Week

Luxardo Bitter Bianco ($25ish) at Shoppers. Adds depth and a complex orange/rhubarb overtone to your next Negroni. Walk on the wild side.


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