Chef Santos, formerly of the downtown Santa Cruz gourmet wine bar Soif, operates the tiny kitchen inside Discretion Brewery as his own business, relying on the help of his wife Laura and a couple of assistants he brought over with him from Soif. The Kitchen is open continuously from 11:30am-9pm for lunch and dinner.
“We’re ready and everybody is excited to be here,” he says, adding he’s still getting used to running his own business. “The difference is not in the kitchen, it feels very familiar and I feel pretty much at home here, it’s the paper work,” he says.
His idea is to start out simply, using fresh, local ingredients. The menu is small, with a trio of beer-friendly starters, five more substantial plates, four snacks and a ploughman’s lunch option.
“I have a lot of respect for the classics, but like to put my own twist on them,” he says, explaining that his buttermilk waffles and chicken wings dish ($12) is made with chicken confited in pork fat and comes with maple syrup spiced with ginger, lemon grass and soy sauce.
The seasonally driven menu includes at peach and cherry salad ($9) with Moonflower cheese from Garden Variety, as well as a classic caesar salad ($8) made with Lonely Mountain Farm little gem lettuce. There is rock cod ceviche with avocado ($10) and Thomas Farm roasted butterball potatoes, with caramelized onions, bacon and gruyère cheese ($6). The ploughman’s lunch—a staple of British pubs—also includes Garden Variety Cheese, Kelly’s Bakery Baguette ($10) and the option of duck paté or soppresata from El Salchichero.
Other dishes are cooked using Discretion beers, like black mussels steamed in Shimmer Pils and served with Live Earth Farm kale and green romesco ($8); beer-braised pork belly sliders made using Discretion’s Good Faith Ale ($9); and marinated mushrooms bathed in Uncle Dave’s Rye IPA ($5). Click here to view full menu.
“I love beer and have always had the idea of opening my own micro-brewery someday,” chef Santos said. “So this is a great fit. There’s nothing like drinking a Shimmer Pils on a hot summer day.”
A 15-year veteran of the restaurant business, in addition to Soif, Majano has tenures cooking at the two-Michelin-starred Healdsburg restaurant Cyrus and Paso Robles’ Artisan under his belt.
Up until March, the organic, family-owned brewery on 41st Avenue in Soquel collaborated with chefs from nearby Main Street Garden & Café, who dished up a brief menu of locally sourced small plates and pub grub.
Laura Majano says the couple—which has been huge fans and regular customers of Discretion since its opening—has long dreamed of launching their own endeavor. “It’s hard trying to find a spot where the front of the house would be as passionate and inspired as what you want to do in the back of house,” she told Edible Monterey Bay’s Elizabeth Limbach.
“We couldn’t believe that such an ideal opportunity was presenting itself when this came up. We were floored. It’s a dream come true. Discretion’s people, product, and philosophy are in line with what we also want to do. It’s like finding a perfect marriage,” she adds.
“Food to enjoy with the beer has always been part of the dream for the Discretion Brewing taproom,” says Discretion owner Kathleen Genco. She describes fare from The Kitchen at Discretion as “beer-focused, farm-to-table comfort food, made in house.” The one-year-old brewery took home a World Beer Cup gold medal for its “Song in Your Heart” ale in April.
Discretion Brewing – 2703 41st Ave. Soquel – www.discretionbrewing.com