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Oct 27, 2007 03:31 PM

Oswald's in Santa Cruz

Have they relocated or is there someplace of that caliber around town that has replaced it ?

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  1. Oswalds is in the process of moving, but won't open until sometime in the first few months of 2008.

    Theos on Main St. in Soquel, and winebar Soif in downtown Santa Cruz, are of similar qualify to Oswalds.

    1. Until Oswald reopens, you might also consider Gabriella Cafe on Cedar in downtown. They recently got a new head chef from the bay area, and I've heard very good things about the food.

      9 Replies
      1. re: Carb Lover

        I ate at Gabriella Cafe on Oct 27 for dinner. I heard good things about the food though the service can be slow.

        My experience not only confirmed the slow service, it was really not good service. I think it was the wait person's lack of eye contact and hurried way that detracted from having a good experience. We ordered the fish dish and the pork belly. I would say the food was decent...the flavors were very ordinary. The fish was called BBQ, which meant grilled. There was a grilled flavor, but that's about it. The pork belly was supposed to be crispy and it was a little crispy, but I would have liked it a bit more so and flavorful. The dessert was the highlight of the meal. We shared an apple crostini. It was delicious.

        Overall, my dinner experience at Gabriella Cafe was just okay. I expected much better service for a small intimate place like this. I suggest going for the desserts.

        1. re: janey

          Thanks for your up-to-date report. Yeah, the service can be quite slow there and the tables are cramped. It's too bad the entrees didn't live up to your expectations. Not many people do pork belly around here, so that's why I'd like to continue to give them a chance. The desserts I've had have been memorable...

        2. re: Carb Lover

          When did the new chef start?

          I had a very good meal there about 6 months ago, and then a disappointing meal when we took friends there (isn't that the way it always is?) about 3 months ago.

          1. re: harryd

            I don't know exactly when he started, but I think it was around May that they were making the transition. Sorry to hear it didn't go over well when you brought friends. Can you elaborate on the ups and downs of that meal?

          2. re: Carb Lover

            Would love to hear more about Gabriella....

            1. re: RWCFoodie

              Not sure what you know about Gabriella, but it's been around the SC scene for a while and has its local following. I've only been once in Sept 2006 and was impressed w/ the food being put out by then head chef, Rebecca King.

              My report:

              The current chef is Sean Baker, and the latest Metro SC talks about their pastry chef, Jessica Yarr, and her delicious-sounding creations. I haven't eaten there since the "new regime" but have heard mixed reviews about the food and service. I've also heard that the prices have increased a bit too, but they seem to source most of their ingredients from local farmers, etc. The space is really small and they pack the tables in, so you have to feel comfortable being very close to your neighbor. Interestingly, Christina Waters just announced on her blog that Gabriella is up for sale, so I'm not sure what their fate will be...

              Metro article:

              Soif remains my preferred place for downtown wining and dining. I've made it a regular habit to buy wine from their shop and have never been disappointed by their recommendations.

              Ok, while we're on the subject of downtown restaurants, does anyone have the scoop on Pearl Alley Bistro since the change of ownership? I heard that it will no longer be Pearl Alley but is changing its concept entirely to some sort of fusion eatery?? Any more info out there?

              1. re: Carb Lover

                Gabriella and Pearl Alley used to be my favorite restaurants downtown, but after last night's Valentine's Dinner fiasco, Pearl Alley is off the list.

                Where to begin? We had 7:30 reservations, were seated promptly, and received our entrees at 9:15. 9:15!!! The menu was fixed with only three entrees and two starters, one of which was a soup, the other a salad, so I cannot believe it took that long. My fiance's soup was tasty, my salad was not. Iceburg lettuce (not especially fresh) with a couple of cranberries, two or three tiny crumbles of gorgonzola, half a walnut and a drizzle of balsamic. Didn't even finish it. Fiance's filet was "okay" (and he loves meat) but I ordered "lobster slippers" on a white wine garlic fettucini. Fettucini was cooked well but drenched with butter, and the lobster were actually uncracked tails. They didn't serve any crackers or utensils, and when I asked for them, the server (who more or less avoided us all night) instructed me to take the buttery tails IN MY NAPKIN to crack them open, then extract the meat with a fork.

                I lived in Maine for a very long time, and I can tell you that even in the cheapest restaurants, they'll prepare the lobster for you. When I looked at the server incredulously and said "seriously? you want me to put this food in napkin?" she said "I'm not responsible for that" and walked away.

                I struggled with three out of the four tails with a knife and fork and eventually gave up because they were overcooked, not very sweet. Looking around the room, we noticed many unhappy faces and many uneaten plates of lobster "slippers".

                Wow. We didn't even stay for dessert, and it was nearly 10:00 when we left. Honetly, it was one of the worst restaurant experiences we've ever had, and such a shame, because Pearl Alley under the original owners was such a gem.

                I will say that the oysters were very good, and the mignonette was tasty, but they weren't served with oyster forks. Not a big deal, but odd.

                Having said all that, Gabriella's has been consistently good and we've never had a bad meal. The wait staff are friendly and attentive, and know their food. It's a romantic little place- I wish we had spent V Day there instead!

                We've never eaten at Oswald's but are looking forward to trying it when they reopen.

                1. re: latechef

                  Thanks for the recap of your Valentine's Day dinner disaster at Pearl Alley - I can definitely relate to how it made you feel. Years ago we had something similar happen to us on Valentine's Day and we swore off trying to "do" dinner out on that day for evermore! Lunch might be a better alternative or just having a nice, romantic dinner at home! And the same goes for Mother's Day - absolutely the worst. I love to eat out but on these "holidays", it seems to us that restaurants overbook and overcharge for mediocrity... This unfortunately applies to places we have had lovely meals on other visits.

                  1. re: latechef

                    Sorry to hear about your terrible experience at Pearl Alley on Vday. The food sounds very unappetizing. This is no way to win over the hearts of fans of the "old" PAB. Do you know who the new owners are or if the regular menu is similar to the prior one?

                    I don't want to divert this thread too much, but I notice that you list Aqua Bleu and In Vino Veritas among your favorite restaurants. Since we haven't heard much about those places on this board, can you tell us a little more about what you like at each establishment? Thanks!

            2. I'd love an update on Oswald's if anyone has one.

              5 Replies
              1. re: MSK

                Christina Waters said in December that they were targeting February. She also said it will have a full bar. Sounds like a much bigger place and a much bigger deal. It may not be the old Oswalds.

                1. re: harryd

                  Right, Waters said on her blog "mid-February" and I've also heard early spring, so it should be either this month or March, but you know how openings have a way of getting pushed back. They've had the place totally sealed off in paper so it's hard to see what's going on, but I'll poke around that corner when I'm in downtown next. Sounds like the space will be much bigger and they may have some lower-priced options like burgers, etc. to draw a larger crowd in and not be pigeon-holed as a special occasion place.

                  1. re: Carb Lover

                    By the way, C. Waters also said that Gabriella is for sale.

                    1. re: harryd

                      Oh no, Gabriella's is for sale too? Sushi is becoming the only sure thing in Santa Cruz.

                2. re: MSK

                  Oswalds is open again...they have a limited menu right now but understand they intend to increase the menu offereings as they build their business back up... Went there a couple weeks ago..Food and atmosphere was great...