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Starbright Seabright

[whitespace] Allison Smith
George Sakkestad

Princess of the Patio: Seabright brewpub's Allison Smith displays a royal smile, as well as a Super Sammy Salad and a couple of pitchers of the Eastside destination's award-winning beer.

A surfer pub with incomparable vibes, fine brew and good food is a reason to pause and give thanks for all things that make us 'sooo' California

By Christina Waters

YES, IT IS DOWNRIGHT impossible to have a negative experience at the always welcoming Seabright Brewery Pub and Restaurant. Spilling out toward the boho railroad tracks that follow Murray Avenue along the beach, its postmodern architectural coves and outcroppings--once a bright pink--have softened into a beloved fixture for Eastside denizens happy to have a neighborhood fort. The back deck, still ecumenically shared with Java Junction's caffeine clinic, is where we always gravitate. And that's just where Jack, Bianca and I spread out and inhaled those first sips of fine Seabright microbrew the other evening.

The 12 oz. glasses--just the right size for me--were filled with a troika of the brewpub's greatest hits. I loved the well-balanced Amber ($2.75), Bianca found her Ace's ($3) had a nice sharp, lemony bite, and Jack practically spooned his way through the coffee and chocolate tones of the brown velvet Stout ($3).

Even a place as hip as Seabright brewpub lends itself to tradition, and mine is the brie and roasted garlic platter--a monument to gooey, melting cheese, pungent garlic and lots of fresh francese bread ($6.95). All three of us dove into this soon-to-be mess of white-food-group members, just as my dinner salad and another appetizer of beer batter-fried zucchini sticks arrived with a container of sour cream and another of zippy Chinese chile soy sauce ($4.95). Yeah, this is essentially a grease delivery system, I thought, savoring the exterior crunch and the interior creaminess of these fat, phallic munchies.

Everyone agreed, and everyone enjoyed. Pub food is about stripping away designer consciousness and just getting down to basic shapes and flavors.

Fresh from a workout, Bianca was ready to eat anything not nailed down and proceeded to work her way through the large salad that came with my Brewery Burger ($6.25). Packed with mixed lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers and a vinaigrette on the side, it was like a harvest of greenery in the midst of pub grub. Our main dishes arrived rather abruptly while we were still working on appetizers, but hey, this isn't a temple of cuisine. Going with the flow--not a problem--we all three jumped on Jack's plate of fish and chips ($6.95), which featured a moist slab of tilapia white fish crunchy-coated in a katsu-style batter. Splashed with vinegar, it was a hit, as were the attendant french fries.

Fat and sassy, these are killer fries. Killer. But it was the coleslaw, creamier and with a bold balance of tart and sweet, that had us oohing and aahing. Jack ate most of it as quickly as possible. Bianca and I take no prisoners, gastronomically speaking.

Meanwhile, I liked my cheeseburger--filled with charbroiled flavor and accompanied by pickles, onions and tomatoes--though it seemed overwhelmed by its massive bun. On Bianca's plate--featuring pork medallions in Hoisin sauce with mashed potatoes ($10.95)--there were some really splendid spears of fresh asparagus steamed to perfection. We all sampled and found the potatoes a huge reservoir of classic comfort. They were flavorful, mashed yet not whipped into airiness, and laced with green herbs that gave them a nice sense of their own identity. Bianca doted so on her sweetish plumy Hoisin sauce that she actually scooped up all remaining traces with her fingers and then licked them clean.

This is very reliable, very pubby food, Jack pronounced with satisfaction, as we surveyed the sea of empty plates all around us.

Reviewing, we agreed that the beers were great, the salad was beyond respectable, the zucchini batter was too thick, the fish and chips were yummy, and the asparagus was great. Taking our act next door for a quick espresso and a shared slab of apple pie, we agreed that we love the Eastside--and Seabright Brewery is a big reason why.


Seabright Brewery Pub & Restaurant
Address: 519 Seabright Ave., SC
Phone: 426-2739
Entrees: $6.95-$12.95
Hours: Open 11:30am-11:30pm daily
Ambiance: *** Noisy, happy interior complete with TV blazing, and a sprawling, lively alfresco party scene
Cuisine: ** Food isn't really the point here, but it's way better than it needs to be--fresh and flavor-packed, with plenty of surface sheen
Service: ** Sometimes it's a struggle to be noticed--there's plenty of customer competition
Overall: Seabright brewpub anchors its end of one of our most distinctive, laid-back neighborhoods--it's a treasure, no doubt about it.

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From the May 21-27, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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