I recently spent an early evening at Soif Wine Bar & Restaurant in Santa Cruz, California. The wine bar (with attached wine shop) is in the heart of "downtown" Santa Cruise, just 1/2 block off one of the main drags.
I took a seat at the copper covered bar, stained with remnants of good times, and took a look around the warm interior. Long benches support tables for two along one wall, booths hover under the windows in front. The tall industrial-style ceiling is broken by the exposed ductwork that is so popular today, but textured panels with various designs lend interest and provide a warmer feel than you see in most renditions of this style. When sitting at the bar you have a partial view of the kitchen with wine coolers separating the two spaces.
When I arrived around 5:30 pm a few people were already at the bar in the midst of sampling and snacking on menu items. Only one or two tables were in use but by 6:00 pm the dining room was filling up, although the bar had emptied.
A review of the wine menu showed an extensive list of wines by the glass. The only thing I found odd was that there was only one red wine from a local Santa Cruz winery Most wines were from the international community with France and Italy being well represented. There was also an interesting selection of German wines, which generally seem to be under represented in this country.
I started with the 2007 Mas de Gourgonnier a Grenache/Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignon blend on the recommendation of the bartender when I asked what would complement the lamb meatballs I’d ordered. It had great taste if it was a little short on the finish and was great with the smoked paprika enhanced meatballs. The meatballs were really fragrant with the paprika and the sauce on them was an interesting concoction of ground almonds, made a little tangy with vinegar and salty from anchovies.
I didn’t score quite as well on my second wine choice and ended up ordering just a taste (all wines on Soif’s menu are available by the taste, glass, bottle or bottle to go). I wanted to try the local wine which was a 2003 Santa Cruz Mountains Pinot Noir. I thought it would go nicely with the Duck Liver Pate that I’d ordered. But I found the wine to be a little thin and lacking in character. The pate was lovely though!
If I lived in Santa Cruz I could see this becoming a regular stop for me.
Soif Wine Bar & Restaurant
105 Walnut Avenue