Oswald – Santa Cruz, CA

121 Soquel Avenue
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

This is where my husband and I go for our “dates” but this time we had company…we can sample more that way! Oswald is small, relaxed (not uptight in the least) and serves phenomenal food.

This visit was not a disappointment. We had to wait for our reservations…you know those people that just won’t turn over the table…so they just kept comping us champagne…on an empty stomach. That just made the wait that much more interesting! ;-)

Once we got our table, we ordered immediately since we’d had the chance to peruse the menu. There was an appetizer that I just couldn’t pass up since it was still tomato season and during that season I must eat my weight in tomatoes daily (since they will go away for the next 9 months of the year and be replaced with flavorless, mushy things that are disguised as tomatoes): Chilled Tomato Soup with Sweet Corn Foam…ok, wrong. Sorry, but I couldn’t deal with this dish at all…Corn isn’t supposed to be foamy and I just couldn’t stomach it. This is the only thing I’ve ever ordered at Oswald that I didn’t finish! But this was a minor setback and they quickly recovered.

Onto the Sherry Steamed Prince Edward Island Mussels with Parsley & Fried Garlic. Yummy yum yum yum yum. I’ve had this dish before and it’s one of my favorites. Mussels aren’t even my favorite mollusk but I could eat these all day. The funny thing about being a supertaster and a pescatarian is that when there is “land-animal” stock in a dish, I taste it. The mussel broth has the tiniest bit of veal stock in it…the waiter didn’t even know about it but we tasted it! It’s just there to add that little bit of richness, it’s a good addition, but it did surprise the chef and waiter when we asked. ;-)

We had our dinner at the peak of the local salmon season. God I LOVE salmon season: Tartare of Fresh Local Salmon with Chives, Balzana Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Mint Pesto…Mint pesto is usually just a mildly interesting twist to throw in but it’s not always the right compliment to the dish…this was right in every way, it was fantastic.

There were two dished enjoyed by our dinner companions that we, being the sea-faring food-folk that we are, didn’t partake in: Poached Moulard Duck Foie Gras au Torchon with Toasted Brioche & White Nectarine Compote, and Pan Roasted Skirt Steak with Roquefort Butter & French Fries. I can’t, obviously, give my personal opinion but I can say that the plates were licked clean!

Our main dish (too many appetizers to order more than one as usual) was the Crispy Skin Silk Snapper with Sweet Corn and Morel Mushroom Ragout. The morels! Oh, the morel ragout!! It made me so happy! I love you morel ragout :) Normally, corn in a dish turns me off. Corn was the cheap veggie filler when I was growing up…like peanuts in a dessert because they’re cheaper than the “better” dessert nuts (pecans, almonds) but this was good!!

At this point, I’m stuffed but I know I must have dessert: Burnt orange ice cream with lavender. Burnt = good. It wasn’t heavy, it wasn’t too sweet, it was heavenly.

Another meal that left me with a smile and a pleasantly full belly.

Oswald goooooood.