Opt for the descending cable car ride, or choose the many terraced steps through lush foliage. Either way, you’ll soon have arrived more than halfway down a pristinely landscaped waterfront embankment to the front door of a truly unique and captivating establishment. While architecture dazzles and decor delights– both outside and in– where you end up sitting makes all the difference, not between good and bad, but rather excellent and outstanding.
The seating decision, while a challenging one, likely came well before your arrival. After all, do you have dining reservations, might you be looking for a lighter bite, or are you simply en route to a refreshing oak-cask Negroni at the bar? In any event, all of these scenarios are welcome here at this impressive spot of social history, the one-and-only watering hole of its kind.
The tuna poke appetizer is surprisingly generous; the unfortunate fried chicken sandwich can be forgotten, and may you not be misled by the “ahi melt”– not the rare steak I anticipated, but rather just a fancier name for… you guessed it. All this and much more is merely in the bar, on the Rock Room menu. The main show gets underway in the dining room, with seating options spread out over three descending levels no less. (Remember: you entered mid-embankment; the water is still a ways down.) Here now to razzle-dazzle your palate comes the impeccable blackened lamb, taking the gold medal on the dinner menu, if I may say so. Alongside it comes such close competitors as “seafood campanelle”, osso bucco and the typically fail-proof prime rib, among all else– and believe me, there’s plenty “else.”
After the last bite and sip– be it lighter bar fare or no-holds-barred dining– your satisfaction has no excuse for being any less complete than mine, unless of course you insisted on that one tired chicken sandwich. No matter what you eat and drink here, your ingestion is just half of the total experience, maybe two-thirds with the lamb, while the remainder comes in the unsurpassed architecture, layout and decor with which you’re surrounded. Altogether, this is the standout establishment to patronize whenever you pass through Capitola, California. This is where ‘excellent’ is trumped only by ‘outstanding’. This is Shadowbrook.