The whole O'Neill Bar thing is super-cool. Love the new sign and surf history art. The style is clean and modern. And, of course, the view is amazing. Now, about the meal...
It is possibly worth the experience of seeing your kids relive the anachronistic classic icky fav of the t.v. dinner generation: American Cheese grilled sandwich to the backdrop of 70's hits like The Captian and Tannile hit "Love will Keep Us Together" and Village People doing YMCA. (Seriously, what self-respecting graduate of the 70's roller rink can restrain from doing the YMCA w their arms when it comes on?) -Maybe THAT's what kept the server away?
The waitress looked at me like I was visiting from Mars when I requested the salmon dish hold the fish, but vegetarian options were few. After checking with the chef they made it and it was delicious: hot garbanzo beans in a lightly spicy tomato sauce w flecks of spinach and dabs of yogurt. In the end, everyone at our table was happy with their food and that's saying something.
The bar drinks are good- (bartenders, however, are hit and miss). I highly recommend the house made Bloody Mary (spicy!!) and the 209 Martini w Point Reyes blue cheese stuffed olives. It is one of the best cocktails in Santa Cruz. Sophisticated, classy, simple, smooth. Umm...
Basically, Aquarius menu is a fresh if safe entry point to the Monterey Bay local food scene. There is something for almost everyone- including pasta with "absolutely nothing green" for the munchkins, though the menu definitely leans toward the middle of the road.
Service: Locals and visitors alike will appreciate rarely having to wait for a table. Once seated, however, you can sit for long periods over empty plates with no server to collect dishes or bring the check for no apparent reason ( one other table in the place). That shouldn't happen. Getting food service in the bar can also be a painful experience.
Playing it safe with the menu isn't so surprising considering It IS a hotel restaurant. Being able to valet park (for free w validated ticket) and not having to wait 30min. before being seated is a huge plus in Santa Cruz. I've been many times and will keep coming back. But I do always wish the menu were a bit more interesting.
Personally, I would like to see them bring back the cotton candy finish.
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