This is the first of seven choices for the Best New Restaurants in Santa Cruz in 2014. To see the full list, click here.
Zach Davis and Kendra Baker opened Assembly, their latest venue and their first full-service restaurant, in March. The dynamic duo first opened The Penny Ice Creamery in 2010 and followed that with The Picnic Basket and then more Penny locations (a kiosk, then Pleasure Point).
First, Assembly served lunch and dinner. Later, they added snacks (afternoon service from 3-5:30) plus weekend brunch. Assembly has Executive Chef Carlo Espinas at its helm. He moved here from San Francisco for the position. He’s done a great job with the seasonal menu. Food highlights in the restaurant’s first few months include slow-cooked pork shoulder with spoonbread, roasted tomatillo sauce, cauliflower, sauteed greens and smoky pickled cabbage; chickpea bowl with avocado, kabocha squash, roasted radicchio, lime, sumac and preserved meyer lemon yogurt; and mushroom pan roast (included chanterelles and trumpets, roasted chicory, a poached egg, and sourdough bread—a divine combination!).
During a lunch in December, I enjoyed the Cubano press sandwich with roasted pork, pickled onions, and Swiss cheese. It was served with a sunny side up egg, perfect for dipping the sandwich’s toasted sourdough bread.
Desserts include cakes and pastries plus—of course—ice cream and sorbet from The Penny Ice Creamery.
In November, the monthly community series Event Santa Cruz held an “Edible Night” at Assembly. Davis remarked on why he was excited to host the event:
We always imagined Assembly as a place where people would literally come to the table to meet and converse over nourishing food and drink.
In fact, Assembly features ‘community tables’ where customers are sitting next to people they don’t know, in addition to traditional, more private tables.