I ran into Mother/Empress Exec Chef Michael Thiemann on the street Thursday afternoon and asked for an update on Empress Tavern. These are the tidbits I gathered from him during a conversation that only lasted a city block.
On Empress Tavern: "Kitchen's done. Bar's Done," said Thiemann. The management's in place and the staff has been hired, but a couple architectural finishes and staff training remain. Should be open in 3 to 5 weeks.
On all the Sacramento Chefs Being Invited to Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival: "It's like all the Kings getting invited to the all star game," said Thiemann, after I told him that I enjoyed his recent appearance on Capitol Public Radio.
Separately, he announced on Instagram Thursday that he would be holding a popup to preview Empress Tavern at Old Ironsides, the same venue he used to highlight the cuisine of Mother prior to its opening:
A photo posted by Michael Thiemann (@chefthiemann) on Apr 16, 2015 at 12:27pm PDT
According to Wikipedia, Sisig "is a Kapampagan term which means "to snack on something sour". It usually refers to fruits, often unripe or half-ripe, sometimes dipped in salt and vinegar. It also refers to a method of preparing fish and meat, especially pork, which is marinated in a sour liquid such as lemon juice or vinegar, then seasoned with salt, pepper and other spices." Kapampagan is one of the major languages of the Philippines.
Stay tuned for more info on the popup and the eventual opening of Empress Tavern, located at the Crest Theater.
Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op relocation on pace for next year- Ah yes, the food! Cultrera said there will be a big self-service hot and cold food bar and larger grab-and-go section along with separate bars for burritos, sandwiches, pizza, ice cream and coffee. And for the first time, the co-op will do much of its baking and desserts in-house—probably not bread-level baking, Cultrera said, but yes to cookies, pies and pastries galore. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.
Rice plates for all: Afritada rice plate, Wandering Boba- I've heard various theories about why Filipino food isn't more popular in the United States, but one is that it's too “weird” for Americans (see: balut). That's where the Wandering Boba food truck's rice plates come in. Jonathan Mendick in Sac News & Review.
Chocolate lovers get their own week in Old Sacramento- The local food scene has given another culinary indulgence its own week of celebrations. The inaugural Old Sacramento Chocolate Week will be held May 4 to 10. The event, which is coordinated by the Old Sacramento Business Association, will include activities such as chocolate-themed trivia, beer and chocolate pairings and a self-guided "Choc-la-tour" through Old Sacramento. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.
A sign in front of the restaurant posted today simply said, “Bistro Michel is Closed - Out of Business.” The bistro’s website has gone dark and a call to the restaurant went straight to voice mail, with a message saying the restaurant is now closed.
I resist using Cowtown Eats as my personal Yelp to complain about poor dining experiences, but now that they're closed, I feel comfortable sharing an experience I had at Bistro Michel in May 2014. After a really enjoyable experience earlier in the year where I said that Bistro Michel was the best restaurant nobody was going to, I decided to go to there for my birthday with a group of 8 or 10. To help defray the cost, I went to Sac News & Review's Sweet Deals site, where restaurants generally trade advertising for gift certificates, which SNR turns into cash by selling it to people like you and me.
At the end of a several hundred dollar meal, we tried to use the gift certificates, which are generally considered the same as paying with cash, to cover about two thirds of the check. The owner declined to honor them, so we were stuck with a large unintended bill and stuck with gift certificates that we didn't need anymore. I called Sac News & Review, and they confirmed that the owner should have honored them, and called the owner to let him know. I went back to the restaurant to see if the owner would fix his error, but I never got a response. I don't know if it was the previous owner of Bistro Michel or the current one, but either way, they never received another dime of my money. I'm sad for those who lost their jobs, but not unhappy that the restaurant is closed.
Separately, Tucos in Davis closed on Monday, reports Sac News & Review's Janelle Bitker.
But according to its Facebook page, Tucos (130 G Street) closed on Monday. Its chef-owner Pru Mendez is closing up shop in order to dedicate time to his tech startup, Internet Age Fun Company...
Mendez also said in the announcement that he will keep Tucos as his startup’s headquarters, but he also alluded to the possibility of entertaining diners there as well.
Almond joy: Almond milk, The Mill- Last month, The Mill unveiled its housemade alternative to cow and soy milk, pressed from almonds, macadamias, dates and water. Alone, it's sweet, smooth and, obviously, nutty. In a latte ($6), it merges with the coffee's bitterness to create a smoky almond blend that's most certainly a joy. Anthony Siino in Sac News & Review.
What's going on with Dos Coyotes on R Street?- A new Dos Coyotes Border Cafe on R Street is expected to open in late May or early June, according to Bobby Coyote, who owns the Davis-based restaurant company. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.
Old Sacramento will host inaugural Chocolate Week in May- The historic district will host its first Chocolate Week from May 4-10, complete with chocolate tastings, tours and cooking demonstrations. On May 4, Fat City Bar & Café will host a "Choc-la-trivia" night to test participants’ knowledge of local chocolate history for a chance to win prizes. On May 6, the restaurant Ten22 will present an event that will pair beer with chocolate and feature four beer tastings and house-made chocolate desserts, like Chico-based High Water Brewing’s Campfire Stout paired with cocoa bread pudding filled with caramel and dark chocolate. Tori Masucci Cummins in Sactown Mag.
According to Local-Food-Tours.com, a Craig Takehara has worked at Sampino's Towne Foods at 16th & F:
“There are plenty of chefs in the area but we feel we found the one that will best fit in with us here at Sampino’s.” Chef Takehara has lived primarily in Los Angeles but was trained mostly in Japan. “You may think it’s odd to have a Japanese chef at an authentic Italian restaurant, but you’d be surprised,” says Takehara. “I learned the most about Italian cooking while in Japan. The Japanese are passionate about noodles and rice. Similar to Italian cooking..."
Chef Takehara says, “I’ve taken recipies from grandparents, uncles, fathers and mothers and tried to take them to the next level. I appreciate the history behind these recipes and we’ve found a great way to reveal them to the public. We want them to see what real Italian cuisine is like.”
Binchoyaki is the combination of the Japanese words Bincho and Yakatori. Bincho refers to the dense oak coals over which Yakitori, or grilled bird, is cooked. There is a restaurant with a similar name based in London serving traditional Izakaya cuisine, or Japanese cuisine intended to be served while drinking.
Bincho is the second izakaya to be opened on the grid, following the opening of Izakaya Daikoku in September 2014.
Efforts to track down contact info for Craig Takehara or co-owner Tokiko Sawada by Cowtown Eats were uncessful. H/T to Sac Biz, who reported the news earlier on Tuesday.
Previously, the spot had housed Doughbot Donuts (which closed in June 2014), and before that, Ricksha (which closed in late 2009).
When it opens, Binchoyaki will be located at 2226 10th St.
Dream big- A few weeks ago, we reported Cookies & Milk’s plans to expand into daytime cookie deliveries, and at some point, open a brick-and-mortar. Those efforts might get accelerated if they win the Downtown Sacramento Foundation’s Calling All Dreamers competition, which announced its 10 semifinalists last week. Among the contenders, six are food-related. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.
More businesses expect to open soon on R Street- Amy Tannous and Chris Tannous, who own Roxie Deli & Grocery in East Sacramento, tentatively plan to open their R Street location during the week of April 27. It will be open seven days a week. That location will take a slightly different name: Roxie Deli and Barbecue. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.
Popular Folsom bakery celebrated birthday with cake decorating contest and party- The celebrated Karen’s Bakery & Cafe in Folsom is threw a sweet bash to celebrate its 15th birthday on Saturday, April 11. “It’s going to be a good ol’ fashioned birthday party with balloons, streamers, hats, noisemakers—all that kind of decoration and mayhem,” says chef-owner Karen Holmes. Nicole Yi in Sactown Mag.
The Press Bistro is one of Sacramento's hidden gems. Despite it's great location, ambiance and food, it's not as busy as it deserves to be. I was just there for a friend's birthday on Sunday night, and all 9 of us left wondering why we don't eat there more often.
But don't just take my word for it. Here's what the Sac Bee wrote earlier this year:
These days, I cannot think of another restaurant in this category and price point that’s doing it any better. From the sourcing of ingredients to the exquisite, always-dialed-in seasoning of the food, The Press has the quality-to-value ratio worked out just right.
This is the way a bistro is supposed to be, engaging and versatile and personable. You can come in for dinner and enjoy a wonderful entree like the short ribs with red wine sauce served over creamy polenta. You can drop by on a whim, grab a seat at the bar and have a small plate of pasta with a glass of wonderful wine, including the house red blend and the house white (an unoaked chardonnay).