Michael Clark relaxes on the back deck of Michaels on Main. Photo by Christina Waters.
Tanned and relaxed, Michael Clark looks as engaged with his culinary commitment as he did 11 years ago, when he opened Michael's on Main in Soquel village. Clark's seasonal menu continues its commitment to “cutting edge comfort food” and to the freshest harvests of the moment. “Right now it's King salmon season,” he told me over pomegranate coolers on the inviting deck. “So we're doing a lot of salmon dishes.” Everybody's favorite seems to be the pistachio crusted salmon drizzled with mint vinaigrette.
Clark works closely with local farmers and artisans, right down to the cheese plate. “Our list features all California cheeses,” he beams, and then proceeds to explain how Fiscalini cheeses take gold medals away from the legendary cheddars of his native England. “California cheeses today are where California wines were in the early ’70s,” he says. They're getting serious and competitive.
Right now Clark admits he's “giddy with excitement” with the new batch of asparagus from his favorite supplier. “Once we get these incredible ingredients, that becomes our vegetable throughout the menu.” Next comes cherries, patron peppers and tomatoes. “We're constantly changing, and not just to inspire the patrons,” he says. “We want to inspire our staff, too.”
Evidently it’s working. Clark’s loyal regulars love what he's doing. One patron told him she even dreamed about his fish tacos. I would too, especially if they were served out on the deck, framed by flowers overlooking lazy Soquel Creek. www.michaelsonmain.net. 831.479.9777
Berry Berry Now that the UCSC Farm Cart is open from noon to 6pm on Tuesdays and Fridays at the corner of Bay and High streets, you can snap up some of the tangiest, sweetest blueberries on the planet. And next Saturday, June 23, from noon till 2pm, enjoy poetry and music in the atmospheric Alan Chadwick Garden (across from the entrance to Stevenson College). Piano music and vocals by Colin and Sheila Hannon, plus readings from Beth Benjamin, Lisa Coffman, Farnaz Fatemi, Michael Hannon, Frances Hatfield, Tom Marshall, Stephen Meadows and Lee Perron. The event is free and open to the public. And it's sponsored by the Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden.
Sabieng Is Back The lines have been out the door on weekend nights at Sabieng ever since May 24, when the Westside Thai eatery reopened following a kitchen fire last September. Other than some interior details and the staff uniforms (purple golf shirts??), the proprietors have wisely left the formula intact: same great food, same great prices.