Bonnie Doon Cellar Door Café, Santa Cruz
My how Santa Cruz has changed since I was a starving student there 30 yrs ago. Cellar is a welcomed addition. The food was delicious -- not necessarily inventive, but truly good, with what appeared to be a rightful emphasis on local ingredients. We opted for the "small plate" menu rather than the prix fixe -- seemed like a better way to get to know the place. The cod w/ fennel & oranges was a smaller portion that expected, but beautifully presented and very, very fresh. The short ribs were not fatty (!!!), and so tasty. Came drenched in heavily wilted greens that were rich and savory and wonderful, and were the perfect compliment to the meat. Wine list is lovely. Cheese plate was disappointing - very; there was nothing special about the cheeses served, which from my perspective is a big no-no in a high-priced CA-cuisine joint. Service was uneven; our waitress was a little on the too-sexy side (I appreciate a nice nipple as much as the next gal, but don't need them hanging over my wine glass as you pour, thanks). Prices were high -- but not more so than any place else. Decor is surprisingly cool and makes for a casual and comfy vibe, despite it's heavy emphasis on theme (all derivative of wine; ie chandeliers made of bottles; walls made of oak barrels, etc.). Overall, a real treat in a town that's long been waiting for better food.
Probably my favorite place to eat in Santa Cruz (not alot of competition though). Probably been here a half dozen times for dinner. Usually I go a la carte, but they have a set family style, three course menu every night. I enjoy sitting at the counter overlooking the open kitchen watching Parker expedite. Cuisine is more comforting than innovative, but is always perfectly executed. Service has gotten better since they opened, but is still a little green at times. They serve barefoot coffee which is my favorite in the south bay. Seek this place out.
My husband and I had lunch here today and it was very good. Inventive food, nice service. There's a very cool decor using various elements from a winery, although wish their chairs were a little more comfortable on a winter's day and that the music they played was a little more soothing (a bit too hard rock for us). They are a bit on the overpriced side, but then one is paying for the inventiveness of the cuisine and I'm okay with that. Their desserts could use a little more imagination (at least the ones they had at lunch time). Definitely try their fingerling potatoes with the aioli sauce. If it wasn't such a scary drive over Hwy 17 at night, we would definitely try dinner there. As it is we'll definitely drop by for lunch on the weekend.