Having an expert help clean up your messes can be hard to swallow, though to be fair, as a bonus he'll usually hook you up with a sweet UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs tee. For a restaurant that's actually making use of some real
scoop-up-all-those-little-pieces-of-brain-and-skull-level expert assistance, hit Grace Kitchen.
Formerly the design debacle known as Zao Noodle Bar, this glass-walled cube in the middle of U-Village has been seriously classed-up thanks to expert help from Poppy and Herbfarm's Jerry Traunfeld, who helped engineer a menu of elevated rustic eats, and a decor that resembles a modernist, wood-heavy country kitchen, with a dining room split by two rows of oversized gray banquettes fitted with marble table tops, and a vintage(ish) brick-walled entry. Edibles start with...um, starters (Deviled Eggs stuffed w/ salmon & sour cream, ham/ leek/ Manchego cheese Croquettes w/ apricot mustard sauce), and sandwiches like the Grilled Ham & Beecher's Cheddar w/ an onion chutney, and a B.L.T. made w/ slow-roasted tomatoes & double-smoked bacon, clearly the result of what happens when you get (a) sow high. There's also mains ranging from a Grilled Flat Iron Steak w/ chimichurri & pommes frites, to Linguini with Manila Clams in an herb'd white wine/ cream sauce, to Miso Glazed Salmon, also the original title of the 1989 hit by 2 Live Crew, when they were going through a foodie thing.
To wash it all down, there's a full booze selection, plus a mess of wines, and brew options including the New Belgium Trippel, and Rogue's Dead Guy, which, whether you drink it or not, is just going to end up all over your trunk.