Cooking For Engineers

Dining Out

Shadowbrook Restaurant (Capitola, California)


by Michael Chu
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Since 1947, the Shadowbrook Restaurant in Capitola, California has provided fine dining to the residents of Santa Cruz County. The restaurant was constructed from the ruins of an upgraded log cabin built on the sloping banks of the Soquel Creek. The food, service, and atmosphere is superb for both romantic and casual dining.

Surrounding the restaurant is a lush green garden built into the hillside. A series of concrete and rock steps and paths take you down through the peaceful vegetation and past a series of small waterfalls.


One of the paths leads to an herb garden for the exclusive use of the chef.


For those who do not wish to walk down through the garden, an inclined elevator brings guests down from the parking lots to the restaurant. The inclined elevator (or hillavator) is an interesting piece of history. It was installed 1958 and is believed to be the only inclined elevator servicing a restaurant in the United States. Even if you don't take the hillavator down, you'll probably take it up after indulging in the delicious food.


The interior of the restaurant is just as nice as its exterior. Most of the tables have a view of either the gardens or the Soquel Creek. This table overlooks the outside sitting area by the creek.


Many restaurants are described as cozy, which is an adjective that I take to mean: small and cramped. The Shadowbrook is neither small nor cramped, but it definitely has a cozy feel. Perhaps, comfortable and relaxing is a better description of how the place makes me feel.


The seafood entrees at the Shadowbrook are excellent and the prices are reasonable, ranging from $20 to $25. We dined on a Thursday evening when (for a limited time), the Shadowbrook offers any of their seafood entrees for $13. At $13, you'd be hard pressed to find a restaurant that could serve up a better tasting dinner.

Dinner began with fresh baked bread and butter. We ordered a glass of the Shadowbrook Chardonnay to accompany our seafood order: Scampi and Fresh Eastern Scallops. Our waiter was knowledgeable and easy to talk to (without the airs and pretentiousness of some knowledgeable waiters). The food arrived quickly and hot. The sauces for both dishes were very flavorful and the spinach was fresh and wilted just enough. I felt that my shrimp (which were very large) was a bit tougher than I prefer, but the sauce it was served with more than make up for it. I can't properly comment of if my rice pilaf was good or not because I couldn't resist mixing it with a little bit of my sauce. I have to say that the texture was fine, and it was a good excuse to eat the rest of my sauce. I did ask about my sauce, which was made by flavoring butter with shrimp shells and blending with a bit of lemon juice, white wine, garlic, and parsley. Simple and yet so good.


Tina's favorite part of her Scallops dish was the mashed potatoes. The potatoes, made of Yukon Golds, were rich and creamy while still having a strong potato flavor and texture in the mouth. The oyster mushrooms which accompanied Tina's scallops were the perfect combination for her dish.


We definitely recommend anyone visiting the San Francisco Bay Area to look into visiting the Shadowbrook Restaurant. As of January 2006, they are running specials on Sunday (three entrees are priced at $13), Monday (Prime Rib at $13), and Thursdays (all Seafood at $13).





Written by Michael Chu
Published on January 05, 2006 at 03:38 PM
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5 comments on Shadowbrook Restaurant (Capitola, California):(Post a comment)

On January 06, 2006 at 02:25 AM, an anonymous reader said...
The Shadowbrook also has a great Artichoke Soup. They use fresh artichokes from nearby Castroville - the source of most artichokes in the Western Hemisphere.


On August 05, 2006 at 02:46 AM, Anja (guest) said...
Subject: Shadowbrook Restaurant
We, my daughter and I, just came back to the Central Coast from the Capitola area. We too had the privilage of dining at the Shadowbrook restaurant. It was in one word fantastic! I am so glad somebody referred us to this special place. And, yes... the food was delicious too, loved the artichoke soup! Best part though was the ambiance, very cozy, the coziness I miss from having left behind Europe so I'm sure we will be back! Thanks to all who make this special place a great destination! Next day we went back to have cheesecake in the Rock room! :)


On June 06, 2007 at 06:30 PM, Vicki (guest) said...
Subject: Shadowbrook
My family and I also enjoy the Shadowbrook for its good food and beautiful setting. I have to disagree about the wait-staff being non-pretentious though. The last time we were there, our wait-person disagreed with my choice of wine and served me a glass of another wine instead, without asking me first. I'm in no way a wine expert but would prefer to be "educated" in a less presumptuous manner. We have had other similar experiences there, but even so we will visit the restaurant again.


On September 15, 2008 at 10:20 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Years (and years) ago Ihad the pleasure of dining at Shadowbrook. What I remember most were the huge fireplaces, and (it used to be) that while guests waited, they were brought crocks of cheese spread and thin slices of San Francisco sourdouh


On July 10, 2009 at 10:15 PM, Tom (guest) said...
Subject: Shadowbrook Lodge
This is an excellent restaurant for special occasions. I have been going here for 30 years, and have never been disappointed!

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