105 Walnut Avenue
Santa Cruz, Ca 95060
Sometimes I get to go to fun places for work. Truth. I pulled into Santa Cruz after a day in Redwood City and that long, winding beautiful drive through the Santa Cruz mountains, checked into the hotel, sweated my way through a session in the local 24 Hour weight room amongst the thick neck muscle building crowd, and took my still damp self straight to Soif Wine Bar downtown. Run-on sentences and sweatiness be damned!
I had a few Chowhound recs for Santa Cruz in my pocket via this semi-contentious thread. I stopped posting in Chowhound because I found the contentious/pretentiousness makes it less fun, but I still use it as a resource when I am traveling and want the best advice.
As I settled into a bar stool, I overheard staff mentioning a Nebbiolo flight, my ears perked right up. I have been LOVING a Nebbiolo this summer from Lone Madrone in Paso Robles. A fun little adventure to taste the stuff from its country of origin, Italy.
Sipping Nebbiolo in order from left to right, like we read a book.
The last was far and away the best. I whole glassed this one after I finished the flight. It wasn't cheap. I found a nibble and sip and Soif can be as inexpensive or as spendy as you make it if you watch your prices. I didn't and I learned my lesson. Eep. I was visiting on Tapas Tuesday; all my plates but one were very inexpensive. Next time I will more closely heed my beverage costs. (Above, my iPad sneaks its way into the shot. She's an attention whore.)
On Tuesdays, not only does Soif have a special tapas menu, they have live jazz in the corner and it was pretty fabulous.
I started healthily with baby lettuces, beets and Pt. Reyes bleu. What's to argue with here?
The man attending to me at the bar (owner?) suggested clams and chorizo from the tapas menu, small but at $3 a bargain. This pairing is perfection.
With my remaining Nebbiolo, he suggested the curried cauliflower. Delicious with a nice char but on the oily side. Salt and oil, to be expected when eating tapas for sure.
Apres le workout, I was wanting more protein, ergo lamb meatballs on a nice little aoili-like sauce. It wasn't aioli, not as creamy. Some kind of puree. I'll be honest here, I found the service extremely efficient but a tad on the chilly side. I was dining solo (with my iPad, but I hardly consider that another person,
kind of not really) and asked a few questions here and there, yet still felt a hesitance to engage on the part of the folks behind the bar. Could be the culture of the restaurant, could have been my sweat. So, I do not know what lies beneath the lamb meatballs. I do know the meatballs and either the cauliflower or the salad was enough for a meal. I left about a tapas course beyond satiated.
Despite the aloof bedside manner, I would go back again. I visit Santa Cruz for work a few times this winter (forever alone). I'm completely open to dining suggestions, but Tapas Tuesdays with live jazz is hard to beat, even without conversation.