Lunch at the Firefish Grill in Santa Cruz

On a hot and lazy day in July, My wife and I decided to escape the air-conditioned confines of our San Jose digs for a naturally cooler afternoon in our favorite day trip location: Santa Cruz. As we cruised into town, the usual, last minute question was asked — wharf or boardwalk first? We chose the boardwalk, and strode through the throng of summer-vacationers in shorts and flip-flops. I grabbed a tart limeade and fresh made corn dog at a premium and she chose a chocolate-coated ice cream cone. Then we toured some shops in search of summer items. We noted that the temperature was 30 degrees cooler by the bay.

Later, on the wharf, we continued to shop, and after a while were ready to eat. I was not starving after my corn dog, but we had walked a bit, and did not want to be too late. We often choose Woody’s, having burgers or fish and chips, but she wanted something different. Woody’s is adjoined to another, more formal sister restaurant, Firefish Grill, where a great photo opportunity always awaits in the window of the grill, as the chefs are continually preparing attractive seafood arrangements for their diners.

Our hostess sat us at a nice window seat with a good view of the bay. It was a little humid, but our attentive waitress soon brought us ice water that tasted filtered, and fresh, crusty, sourdough rolls. The menu had some good, reasonably-priced choices, and a few, more precious ones. I went with the crab-cakes, while my wife selected the seafood platter. We chatted and broke bread while waiting for our plates to arrive. The rolls were good and the butter was easy to spread, which is always nice.

Our food arrived very quickly, but we had ample time to settle in and enjoy our bread. My wife’s meal looked great: A large platter, filled with massive breaded shrimp, succulent salmon, snapper and scallops (she passed on the calamari). I tried one of the shrimp, which was delicious, and she enjoyed the whole meal. I was impressed with the presentation of my two crab cakes over risotto, topped with a lemon garnish. The cakes were the best I have had: light, fresh and savory. The risotto was a little rich, but together with the light and consistent melted cheese throughout, reminded me of my mother’s risotto’s she would prepare when I was growing up in Berkeley. We dug in to our hosts’ creations with pleasure.

After the meal, we declined dessert, and sat for a while, enjoying our conversation, the view, and the pleasant atmosphere. I am sure we would go back another time, perhaps without having had a bite on the boardwalk. I know I would recommend Firefish Grill to anyone wanting a nice, somewhat upscale dining experience with high quality food, and reasonable prices.

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