As many people in Sacramento do, I love La Bonne Soupe Cafe. When I used to work nearby, I'd head over at 11:15 or at 1:45 to grab a sandwich without hitting the lines. There was always a wait, but it was always worth it. Blair Anthony Robertson, the Sac Bee restaurant critic, did not share that opinion and agreed to give La Bonne Soupe Cafe another shot.
La Bonne Soupe made a splash when Zagat's Sacramento restaurant guide came out two years ago because this humble little spot scored highest in the food category out of all places in town. I won't insult M. Pont by saying that is ridiculous. The food is certainly good (but not great), and always consistent. But it's really the overall experience and the charm of the proprietor that make it all taste so much better.
Read his entire review in the Sac Bee. Photo via KCRA.com.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries & The Habit Burger Grill: A tale of two fast-food joints - A burger is a burger is a burger. Balderdash. Exempting the mutations—chicken, veggie and stuff like Spin Burger’s lamb and Reuben creations—there is a definite hierarchy of burgers, with Willie’s and Burgers ’n’ Brew trending toward the apex and Wendy’s at nadir. Those two aren’t cited as the pinnacle of beef bravura because, like Neil Young said when asked if he and Crazy Horse were the best garage band in the world: “Third. The Stones are No. 1, and there has to be someone out there better than us.” Greg Lucas in Sac News & Review.
Bangkok Garden: Thai less traveled - It’s odd exiting on Arena Boulevard and going away from the arena—pavilion, whatever—even though that appears to be the direction the current occupants are heading. But turning left or right, if coming from the north, leads to Bangkok Garden, a welcome change from the sanitized sameness of Sacramento strip malls sited in Natomas. Greg Lucas in Sac News & Review.
Night Life: Bombay Bar and Grill: Tranquil amid hubbub - The real steal: At this colorful, quiet restaurant, you can try modern dishes with a little Indian flair – fries cooked with Indian spices ($2.95) or chicken wings barbecued in a clay oven ($3.95) – or go more traditional with options such as chicken pakora (chicken fritters battered in chickpea flour) for $3.95 or masala papadaam (roasted papaya with onion, tomato, cilantro and spices) for $1.95. Pair a couple of dishes with a well drink ($3) or a Pabst ($1.50) for a complete meal. Casey Mar in the Sac Bee.
Dining review: Auburn's Monkey Cat fine for humans and pets - The menu is cleverly eclectic, the cooking is largely sound, the room is warm and charming (with original wood floors dating back more than a century, and hints of Polynesian-flavored décor) and it has a palapa bar outside. And there's at least one excellent server, Coreen, who could be a star at any Michelin-rated restaurant in the City by the Bay. She understood the menu in great detail, believed in the mission of the restaurant and handled our table with attention to detail and a touch of charm. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.
Monday postscript: Monkey Cat and a canine dining companion - I had a new dining partner helping out with Sunday's review - Abbey, one of our dogs. When Monkey Cat noted on its website that it was "dog friendly," the journalist in me thought I needed to check it out and find the right companion for the job. Though Oscar, our big Rhodesian ridgeback-mix, is the pack leader, we left him behind because, well, having an alpha dog that close to plates of food is not always the best idea. When he gets really food-focused, Oscar starts to howl. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.
Monday postscript: Enotria and Magpie - I am returning from a two-week vacation, so today I will be playing a little bit of catch-up, beginning with a look back at my last two reviews. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.
Why I sometimes pull the plug on writing a review - That's right. I don't review every restaurant I visit. In fact, if the restaurant looks as if it is going to be mediocre or bad, I am likely to bail out. There will come a point in the evening when I'll invariably say to my girlfriend, "What am I going to write about this place that will be the least bit interesting, educational or entertaining?" It can get depressing when this happens three or four different places in a row. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.
Should I warn restaurants before publishing my reviews? - One of the things you realize when you've been in journalism long enough is that a lot of smart people read the newspaper. Another thing you realize: an awful lot of other people don't really understand how journalism works. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.
Try It: TreyBcake's Chocolate Chip Cookie - It can be darned difficult to find a made-like-mom’s chocolate chip cookie at a bakery. But yesterday I stumbled across a great version of this childhood favorite at midtown’s new TreyBcakes Gourmet Bakery and Eatery. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.
First Bite: Monticello in Davis - I had an opportunity to check out Monticello in Davis this weekend. The new restaurant is located in the space last occupied by Osaka Sushi, next door to the Davis Co-op. Owners Rhonda & Tony Gruska have recently moved operations from Winters, where they had owned a restaurant called Monticello Bistro and ran (and continue to run) a successful catering business. The duo has teamed up with local farmer Jim Eldon of Fiddler's Green Farm, and the three plan to “showcase seasonal appropriateness, regional resources, freshness, and minimal interference between source and plate” at Monticello. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.
Check it Out: Chocolate Fish Coffee - I visited a cute little spot recently called Chocolate Fish Coffee, located on the corner of 3rd and Q streets downtown. It characterizes itself as an “authentic New Zealand style coffee house,” but the only hint of foreign-ness I could discern was a couple of coffee drinks with curious names – the Long Black is what we Sacramentans call an Americano; the Flat White is a “short version” of a latte, served in a smaller cup. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.