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Dining News: Dining Downtown at Restaurant Thir13en

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Dine Downtown, the annual January event where you get a 3 course meal for only $31 at 28 of Sacramento's best restaurants, is a lot like happy hour. Just like happy hour, if you go when they're trying to generate business, you'll get a better deal and restaurants are (hopefully) showing you what they can do so you'll come back and spend more money later.

This year, I was invited by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership to a hosted preview of Restaurant Thir13en's menu on Saturday evening. I hadn't been since Chef Adam Pechal appeared on ABC reality cooking show The Taste, and I was eager to give the place another try. It may have been the best Dine Downtown meal I've ever had.

Appetizers

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Blood Orange Salad with Kara Kara Oranges, Castelvetrano Olives, Frisee, Feta, Pickled Onion, Calabrian Chili Vinaigrette

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Del Rio Farms Winter Squash Soup with Cream of Heirloom Squashes, Sage, Cumin

Main Course

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Diver Scallops with Celeriac Puree, Roasted Carnival Cauliflower, Bacon Confit, Buddha’s Hand Lemon Gastrique

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Braised Beef Short Rib with Cabernet Risotto, Foraged Mushrooms, Cipollini Onions, Root Chips, Blood Orange Gremolata

Dessert 

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Pear Frangipane Tart with Cinnamon Ice Cream

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Dark Chocolate Cremeux with graham crumble and toasted marshmallows

I was thorougly impressed with the meal.

In the first course, the both the blood orange salad and the soup were astoundingly good. In the case of the salad, Chef Adam Pechal managed to put together two ingredients I don't care for - olives and feta cheese - and make a wonderful dish. The soup was equally good. The deep fried sage on top was fantastic, and the soup had many levels of flavor. It finished with subtle heat (spiciness), which I found leaving me wanting more. Chef Adam said that the dish was almost vegan, save for the crema and the cheese rinds in the chicken stock. It's impossible to recommend one dish over the other, you should choose what you're in the mood for that day.

In the main course, one dish stood out, the diver scallops. The roasted veggies were heavenly, and the parsnip puree provided a great contrast in flavor with the scallops. The scallops also had a relish of budda's hand, which I had never had before. This dish hit it out of the park. The short ribs may not have been my favorite, but it was still a very good dish. I liked the (what tasted like sweet potato) root crisps and enjoyed the risotto immensely. The oyster and chanterelle mushrooms gave the dish a great meaty flavor. It was just a very solid representation of what to a short rib done in the farm to fork style in the winter in Sacramento.

For dessert, I liked the pear tart, and my dining companion liked the chocolate. Both were executed very well. The caramel and poached pears were standouts in the fruit dessert, while the marshmallow was a unique addition to the chocolate dish. We disagreed on which the better of the two desserts were, but we agreed that both were expertly done.

I try to maximize my dollars by eating at high end restaurants during Dine Downtown week. While they may be hitting a lower price point, their precise cooking and service will remain. That was certainly the case at Restaurant Thir13en.

Dine Downtown ends on Friday, Jan. 17. Find all 28 restaurants and their menus online at DowntownSac.org.

More News:

Hock Farm Craft and Provisions – 1415 L Street - Everything tasted delicious and every dish was beautiful. I know you have a lot of options this year for Dine Downtown week but I really think it is worth your while to grab a friend and stop by Hock Farm.  They are permanently etched in to my dine out list. Jamee Sims on Girls on the Grid.

Fat City for Dine Downtown - As we discussed the menu she explained that their latest chef is Steve Gonsalves and that he's been the most creative chef they've had. That was apparent by reading the DD menu. Catherine Enfield on Munchie Musings.

Bar 101: Elevated American Dining - Sometimes you just want a comfortable neighborhood place to hang out and get some good food and drinks. If Historic Roseville is your destination, look no further than Bar 101. A laid-back interior with a pool table, 13 high-definition TVs and one huge screen displaying all types of entertainment (sports are the specialty), ensure the kids and adults will never bore, while a side of good old-fashioned rock and roll makes the place swing. Leeann Dickson in Style Mag.

Best Businesses: Local chamber of commerce selects its annual winner - The award for best new business went to Chocolate Fish, a coffee shop that roasts its own beans. The shop’s owners, East Sac residents Edie and Andy Baker, renovated an older building, and local artist Marc Foster created tables for the cafe using repurposed wood. The store opened last spring at 4749 Folsom Blvd. Clark’s Corner won the chamber’s Special Place award, which recognizes businesses with architectural or design features that beautify and distinguish East Sacramento. Lisa Schmidt in Inside Publications.

VIDEO: Dine Downtown with Dawson’s at the Hyatt - The Ninth Annual Dine Downtown Restaurant Week kicks off today. Paul Robins samples some of the treats made by Dawson’s at the Hyatt, which is participating in the event. On FOX 40.

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