Shadowbrook Restaruant Review @ Capitola / Santa Cruz

Shadowbrook Restaruant Review | JustOneCookbook.comI hope you had a great weekend.  Today my husband Shen is reviewing a restaurant called Shadowbrook Restaurant.  I hope you enjoy his review.

Dear readers, welcome to the December restaurant review on Just One Cookbook.  As I mentioned last month we took a family trip to Monterey peninsula and decided to explore the restaurants in the area.  As we were reviewing the best central coast restaurant winners list on Open Table and deciding which one to try, we saw Shadowbrook Restaurant and remembered our friend mentioned that he had a great experience there a few months prior.  The restaurant description in Open Table reads “Shadowbrook is best reached by its own quaint, hillside cable car or the meandering garden path alongside waterfalls”.  Cable car and waterfalls?  We can’t possibly pass up on this opportunity so off to Capitola we go.

Shadowbrook restaurant Capitola

The restaurant was a bit tricky to find being located on a windy road with lots of trees but luckily we had gps navigation so it was not too difficult.  Shadowbrook is built on a steep hillside extending all the way from the top of the hill down to Soquel Creek.  At the “main entrance”, there are two options for guests to arrive at the actual restaurant.  Option one to the right is the cable car, or guests can choose option two and stroll through the  beautiful garden path to the left.  From the deck of the main entrance, you can view the steep hillside the restaurant is situated on and well manicured garden with concrete path.  Since we came all this way to ride the cable car, we chose option one.

Shadowbrook restaurant garden path

The cable car only fits 4-5 adults at a time and the ride itself is about 30 seconds.  As guests descend down the hill side they can see the beautiful garden to the left.

Shadowbrook cable car

The cable car arrives right outside of the Rock Room bar and lounge which is also the main reception area.  The brightly lit Rock Room with large exposed beams supporting the wooden roof and wooden panels on the wall gives it a mountain cabin feel.  Part of the room is decorated with rock wall and it is accented with a full bar to the right.  As the friendly hostess greeted us and lead us to our table, it was quite an adventure.  From the Rock Room we traversed through a hall way and down some stairs where the Fireside room and the main dining room is located.  These rooms were completely different from the Rock Room being dimly lit and perfect for a romantic meal (not suitable for two noisy kids).  As we descent a second set of stairs to the Greenhouse Room, it’s evident that Shadowbrook identifies itself with plants and greenery.  There are plants all over the restaurant both indoor and outdoor with ivy wrapping around interior beams and plenty of green plants growing on interior walls and planter box.  The architecture of the Greenhouse Room contrast the other dining rooms with glass ceilings, large windows peering into the garden, and stone floors.  I can imagine if there is ever a restaurant built inside of a magical forest, this is exactly what it would look like.  It was showering that evening when we dined there, the sound of rain drops falling on the glass ceiling creating little streams of water made the experience just a bit “magical“.   Our table was in middle of the room and looking out the windows we could see trees lit with holiday lights.  The room’s surrounding creates a celebratory mood and happiness.

Shadowbrook restaurant dining room

As we studied the menu, on one of the pages the restaurant states it supports produce from local farms and that made me happy.  When a chef cares about the community around them and the produce they use, it speaks a lot about the person’s character.  Our server George quickly came by after we sat down to get drinks order and also offered suggestions for the meal.  I want to mention the service by George that evening was impeccable.  When we arrived that evening at the Greenhouse Room we were one of the first guests so we received great service.  The amazing part is later on when the room got really crowded and busy, George and entire staff still provided really great service and was very responsive to all guests.  Now back to the food, for appetizers, we had Baked Brie, Clam Chowder, Local Baby Greens, and Lightly Seared Crispy Ahi.  I am a clam chowder addict so if I see clam chowder on any menu it’s very likely I’ll order it (especially if the restaurant labels it “award winning”).

Shadowbrook Appetizers

The baked brie and the ahi were both very interesting.  Baked brie was served with “blue ribbon pepper jelly” and the jelly tasted like Thai sweet and sour chili sauce.  The taste was a bit confusing to me and I have to say I did not thoroughly understand the creativity.  The ahi was deep fried and served with three different sauces including citrus-soy and wasabi-tobiko.  The ahi was slightly overcooked but delicious.  The clam chowder was unique with a strong rosemary taste compared to other clam chowders served in the region.

For the main course we ordered caramelized sea scallops and filet mignon with scampi.  The scallops were served over whipped Yukon potatoes and oyster mushroom cream.  The oyster mushroom sauce was very tasty and complimented very well with the scallop.  I was disappointed with the filet because the steak was overcooked (I like medium rare with no blood).  The scampi was cooked in garlic, chili, parsley, over spinach-ricotta gnocchi but it was not outstanding for being the most pricey item on the menu.

shadowbrook entree and dessert

To complete the meal, we had the chocolate meltdown and rhubarb crumbles with ice cream.  Both dessert were quite tasty and a great finale for the meal.  Overall, we were very happy with the dining experience and thought Shadowbrook would be the perfect place to go to celebrate birthday meals with your closest friends.  The service was outstanding and the food and beautiful surrounding just make it a very pleasant experience, I would even say happy.

Shadowbrook on Urbanspoon

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  1. It’s always nice to mix things up with a restaurant review! I love how you two make a perfect pairing =)

    This place sounds like a wonderful spot for a date night too!

  2. Wow, what a fabulous setting…and how neat that you take a brief cable car ride to get there! The menu sounds amazing, too…love what you selected.

  3. What a beautiful place, I bet the ambience was great. It was good to hear that even when the restaurant got crowded you still received wonderful service. Sounds like a place I want to visit. Thanks for the honest review.

  4. What a lovely way to enter the restaurant! The food looks scrumptious and I also love chefs who care to use local produce. George the server sounds like someone I’d love to have if we ever get the chance to visit this restaurant!

  5. Your restaurant experience with the cable car and such incredible views sounds like from a fairy tale. I have never had ahi or clam chowder, so I know what I would take if I went there :-) I don’t care for steaks, but from my friends’ experience I know how difficult it is to find a restaurant which grills them the way one wants… Badly cooked steaks are I think the only dish I have seen at least dozen times sent beck to the kitchen.
    Thank you, Shen, for this fascinating review!

  6. That restaurant sounds truly delightful – as Sissi said, how wonderful that you take a little cable car ride to get there. I can imagine that the rain falling on the roof must have made it a wonderful experience. I’ve never had ahi either… need to look it up actually.

    There’s nothing more depressing than a badly cooked steak – my wife used to like them well done (I kid you not… it was like watching her chew on a car tyre)… I’m slowly weaning her onto the joys of medium, although I think rare might be a bit too much to hope for from her 😉

  7. What a fun time you must have had visiting this gorgeous restaurant with your family. Although, I don’t know if I would have gone on that cable car to reach up on the hill to the restaurant (hope I’m not mistaken about the cable car)
    I’m so afraid of heights, in most open places.
    Nami, the photos are beautiful, your hubby did a great job capturing the beautiful view at night, the food and dessert spectacular, as well!
    BTW-I finally posted the last day event from the French bakery w/you, and Jo…do check it out!

  8. What a fantastic restaurant! The not-so-outstanding food aside, the view and the experience appear to be simply lovely. I adore the Monterey area and would love to go back and visit again someday.

  9. This restaurant is such a great place to be in! The delicacies made me drool and the ambience is absolutely divine! I hope I’ll visit this place atleast once in my lifetime…Great review and I loved reading the same!

  10. Shadowbrook holds a very special place in my heart. It is one of the first “grown-up” restaurants that my husband I went to together when we were just youngsters! We’ve returned a few times over the course of many years and it is just as beautiful as it was then. I was so happy to see this post :)

  11. Sallie

    Nicely reviewed. We have spent many special occasions at Shadowbrook and have always had a wonderful experience. Even though we live in Washington state now,
    whenever we are back in the Bay Area we try to arrange an evening for dinner at Shadowbrook. Delighted you enjoyed it as well.

    • Hi Sallie! Thank you so much for your kind comment. Wish the lighting in the dining room was better (for food photos) so we could take better photos. Thank you again for stopping by. Hope you have a chance to come to the Bay Area soon! I LOOOOOVE Washington state and wish to visit there too. :)