The view from Aquarius is breathtaking, and the food is quite tasty as well. It is our honor to announce Aquarius as our January Restaurant of the Month! To learn more about this excellent eatery, I spoke with Gus Siggins, Food and Beverage Manager at the Dream Inn and Aquarius.
SCW: Congratulations on receiving Restaurant of the Month! Why do people enjoy coming to Aquarius?
Gus: Our location and view really draws people in, our cuisine and quality service keeps them coming back. It takes a lot of work to combine all three of those great qualities in the restaurant industry. Our amazing chief, Craig Mattox, has been with us since June and before he was at Ace in Palm Springs. He also opened Tender Greens in Los Angelus.
Gus: Yes. The Jack O’Neill Lounge opened a few weeks ago. We have a lot of memorabilia in the lounge and some great photos. We received access to the photos from the O’Neill Corporation. They we very generous in letting us use everything for the lounge. The Lounge corresponds to the new mural they put down at Cowell’s Beach. Jack’s original surf shop here in Santa Cruz was located in the same place our restaurant is today. We are very happy to be located in a historic part of town.
Gus: We have a world-class burger and the fries are great! My favorite dish though is the roasted half chicken. We use Mary’s Farm, which is very fresh, and our chief started using polenta fries, which are very unique. Polenta is very creamy but he shapes them and cooks them like fries until they are very crisp. It’s a wonderful dish.
SCW: Wow. You’re making me really hungry right now! Are you doing any weekly specials?
Gus: We do a few. On Monday we have our Homemade Mondays. It’s our take on Comfort Food, what mom would make for you on Sunday dinner. It includes menu items such as fried chicken, meat loaf, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken fried steak, and pork chops. That leads into our BBQ Heaven Wednesdays, which is BBQ chicken, pulled pork, and tri tip. Chief Mattox smokes all of our meats in house here which gives it a nice touch. Thursday is our Steak day, on those days we go for a steakhouse feel. We have a great trio that plays music while we serve tenderloin, pork chop, and duck. It’s a really great menu. Those are our menu specials and we also have a really great Brazilian Jazz band that plays on Saturdays.
SCW: That sounds fun. We’ve heard a bit about your signature cocktails. Could you please tell us about them?
Gus: Yes. The cocktails are all named and inspired by the life of Jack O’Neill. “The Legend” which is a Kettle One martini was Jack’s favorite drink. Some of the names include the Buccaneer, the Conqueror, and Rags to Riches.
Gus: I would like to give a special thanks to the O’Neill family. Brian was instrumental in connecting us. He is their marketing director and gave us access to a lot of photos and memorabilia that we would normally have a hard time accessing. When you come in you can see the wetsuit we have in the corner. That one was designed in 1989, the surfboard was an original as well and was shaped in 1960. The whole family has been so open with us so we would like to say a big thank you to them for helping us put together the Jack O’Neill Lounge.
SCW: Thank you so much for answering our questions.
Gus: You’re very welcome. Thank you.
You can visit the Aquarius website at: http://www.aquariussantacruz.com/
Photo provided by Aquarius
Article by Jack Neenan