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A Hit and a Miss around Santa Cruz

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A Hit and a Miss around Santa Cruz

PolarBear | Mar 26, 2005 06:56 PM

Spent Wed. night in Aptos following the fiesta chowdown at Tepa-Sahuayo in Watsonville. Breakfast at Severino's the next morning was included in the room price but limited to scrambled eggs only, bacon or sausage, potatoes and croissant (toast was 1.50 extra)or as an alternative, you could order anything on the menu and receive a 3.95 credit. We would normally opt for the latter but were still somewhat full from the previous nights feast. Everything was OK, potatoes cooked well as requested, but the "croissant" was a miniature biscuit somewhat shaped like the real thing. Minor points, but what was actually interesting was the service and attitude. We had waited until after 8am to give the business clients time to clear out, so there were only a couple of tables occupied and a number of servers wandering through. After about 15 min a waiter casually strolled over, if he had any interest in us at all it completely disappeared when we chose the complimentary breakfast. Attitude seemed to be it was quite the imposition to bring us the food and even the check. We found it rather amusing, we're at a Best Western in Aptos ferchristsakes, there's not even an ocean view.

Just prior to checkout noticed a flyer in the room claiming that their (Severino's) Manhattan Clam Chowder had taken first place and their Boston style third in a chowder cook-off. Not getting my hopes up too high, we ordered a couple of cups to go and headed for W. Cliff Dr. to sit and take in the chowder along with the view. All I can say is if this was the winner, Campbells must have been a close second. The broth was pretty one dimensional and acidic, the clams rather chewy. I'm guessing their Boston style was beat out by Snow's and Gorton's.

After the soup we strolled around DT planning to have a light lunch, none of the specials at Gabriella Cafe jumped out and grabbed us (BLT panini 9.00?), and we were too early for Soif or Pearl Alley Bistro. Decided our appetites weren't big enough for Cafe Brasil so headed to Palapas in Seascape.

We were very happy to see our favorite appetizer from decades past still on the menu, Camarones del Golfo A La Parilla, charbroiled gulf prawns marinated with fresh orange juice, lime butter and fresh garlic, sauteed with a toasted guajillo-garlic chili sauce. Four fat prawns in a deep 6 inch soup bowl of this red rich spicy flavored sauce with a hint of sweetness (from the OJ?). Soaking in the sauce is shredded green and red cabbage and small handmade corn and/or flour tortillas accompany. While pricier (13.50) by close to a factor of two from our last visit, we were completely satisfied with an order apiece as a light meal. Had we been hungrier, splitting almost any other item on the menu would have been sufficient. Waitstaff was pleasant and most helpful, I ordered a glass of 2001 Savannah-Chanelle Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir (7.50) and loved how the fruitiness offset the spices in the camarones. I'd asked to see the label and about availability. It seems everyone got involved, the waitress checking with the chef, made a phone call or two, finally the manager (owner?) came out and had done a web search and discovered I could find it at Aptos Natural Foods, Staff of Life, and of all places, Seascape Wine and Spirits, just across the parking lot, where I got their last two bottles. The manager/owner of Palapas said he was down to their last 10 bottles or so and they weren't going to produce an 02 from that vineyard (they have others from Santa Lucia, Healdsburg, etc.).

Decided on taking the back roads home through Hecker Pass, so our final stop was at the Corralitos Market for a variety of sausages to BBQ for the family gathering on Sunday. Getting home it was hard to believe we'd only been away just a little over 24 hours and managed to pack that much fun and good food into so little time.

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