Bittersweet Santa Cruz - Bittersweet Bistro Santa Cruz (Also Cafe Bittersweet)
787 Rio Del Mar Blvd.
Aptos, CA 95003
|Hours||Bittersweet Bistro: Mon - Thurs. 5:30pm - 9pm; Fri & Sat 5:30pm - 10pm
Cafe Bittersweet: Every Day 8am - 2:30pm
|Price||$11 - $30 (Cafe); $31-60 (Bistro)|
|Dining Style||Casual Dining|
|Payment Accepted||Visa,Master Card,Discover,American Express, Cash|
|Meals||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Santa Cruz Delivery||No|
|Santa Cruz Take Out||Yes|
|Santa Cruz Deals||
Bittersweet Santa Cruz - Summary:
(from MetroActive.com - by Christina Waters) -Gleaming with mirrors and polished wood, the glamorous bar greets patrons once they've entered through the original 50-year-old redwood doors. The walls are deftly treated to a spacious kiss of Tuscan gold, and pin spotlights pick up the gleam of white linens and richly tapestried banquettes that seem to undulate through three large dining rooms. Seated in the far chamber, where the stone fireplace cries out for a cold, foggy night, we were soothed, yet puzzled by the sheer bareness of the walls. Perhaps it's a Zen statement--or the refusal to settle for anything less than the perfect artwork. It did seem a bit, well, austere.
The service, however, was anything but, and our talented waitperson worked smoothly to make sure our meal was presented to our complete satisfaction.
I'd love to think this was a trend--Bittersweet joins a growing cluster of restaurants in offering half bottles of quite a few varietals. So while my companion nursed his draft of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, I was able to indulge my passion for sumptuous zin with a split of Ridge Geyserville 1993, a supple layering of zinfandel with generous dashes of carignan and petite sirah.
Starters immediately caught our attention, as we grazed on some excellent francese bread. Very soon came a platter of salmon pastrami salad and another of skewered shrimp with garlic white beans. Not only was the very idea of salmon pastrami--an intense pepper-cured anointing of the rich seafood--a great one, the execution was equally on target. A few gossamer potato chips topped a central earthwork of impeccable baby greens, while a trio of cornichons and a pool of whole grain mustardspiked crème fraîche clustered around slabs of salmon. Some capers, minced Bermuda onions and niçoise olives added sass, but the star here was the seafood, cured to an almost masculine sheen of authority.
The herbed and grilled prawns fared nicely, warming and wilting their bed of lettuces, radicchio and frisée into compliance. The side of garlicky, sage-intensive white beans made it almost the perfect bistro meal on a single plate. The zinfandel sang a refined C&W accompaniment.
Entrees, as they so often do, seemed to recede a bit into ordinariness compared with these sexy opening dishes, but we both enjoyed the chef's light hand with the delicate, fresh sand dabs, finished with just a bit of wine and lemon, and served with the house scalloped potatoes and a nicely executed (if unexciting) ménage of mixed carrots, green beans, zucchini and cauliflower. My rustic veal medallions were plentiful, a bit overcooked, and slathered with an earthy brandy sauté of plump shiitakes and portobello mushrooms.
Given Vinolus' reputation as a pastry artist, there was no way we could leave without sampling dessert. Joined by a shared glass of Bonny Doon Vineyard's Muscat Canelli, we began the holy ritual of lemon raspberry Napoleon and warm bread pudding. The lemon custard interspersed with square leaves of ethereal pastry was tart and creamy. A raspberry coulis, stained the hue of midsummer, burst with intense flavor. The plate, dusted with powdered sugar, was as wonderful to the eye as to the tongue. A small sample of chocolate ice cream, laced with Jack Daniel's, showed off Vinolus' expert cocoaphilia. As my companion happily enjoyed his rather tame "yuppie" bread pudding--which was distinguished by the presence of truly ripe berries and fruit--I broke my own rule and finished every trace of the Napoleon.
Bittersweet Santa Cruz - Reviews:
Positive Bittersweet Santa Cruz Review:
Good food, good drinks.
This is one of our local nice night out places.
they also do small plates if you are on a budget.
-Sara S.., Santa Cruz, CA
Negative Bittersweet Santa Cruz Review:
They did it to me again. After promising myself I wouldn't go back to the dining room, I let friends talk me into it. Like the last time, the four of us were into our second bottle of wine before we were able to order. (And we brought the bottle in from the bar or we'd probably have perished from thirst. ) We were three bottles down by the time the appetizers arrived. I have no idea how good the entrees were because by the time I dug into mine, we were on the fourth bottle. Not because we're such lushes, but because they're so slow. Half full dining room, so it wasn't that. It was 2.5 hours from the time we sat down (after waiting 10 minutes for our reserved table--remember, half full dining room) to the time we tackled some other waitress for our check.
I ate at Manressa recently and it took three hours. But there were 5 courses and so many intermezzo treats I lost count. The Bittersweet folks should take the entire staff to a real restaurant so they can discover for themselves what real service is like. I don't demand Manressa level service, but please, two and a half hours for a steak? Torture!
Having said all that, the bar and bar food is good. Just don't venture into the dining room.
-Rick R., Aptos, CA
Average Bittersweet Santa Cruz Review:
Average - good atmosphere, comfortable bar, the food and service is inconsistent, and be sure to skip the pizza-like substance on the menu (it's awful). Recommend that you share the "small' plates because some of the dishes are actually good. I go here because there are few good restaurants in Aptos (except Cafe Sparrow) and i live nearby.
-Brother B., Aptos, CA
Bittersweet Santa Cruz - Photos: