The Sac Bee, News & Review and Sac Magazine all employ professional restaurant critics. Much like movie reviewers, it's advisable to find one who generally matches your food preferences, and you learn to trust them.
But you know a restaurant is doing something right when all three are unanimous in their praise. The most recent restaurant to pull off this trifecta is Maranello in Fair Oaks, and the third critic to sing its praises is Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.
I was impressed with the kitchen’s imaginative fritto misto – battered and quick-fried rock shrimp, baby fennel, cauliflower florets and lemon slices, served up with an interesting bacon aioli; and the spicy fennel sausage and sirloin meatballs, perched atop crispy polenta rounds, were a toothsome nosh – especially when paired with a glass of sturdy red wine.
Read her mini review in Sac Mag.
The Dish: Plaza Cafe at CalPERS - There must a reason that Plaza Café is taking business from other state cafeterias. Maybe it's the locally harvested and organic produce touted on a blackboard at the cafeteria's entrance. Could it be the $5.99 artisan sandwiches? The regularly rotated "global flavors" like the Japanese teriyaki rice bowl ($6.59)? Jon Ortiz in the Sac Bee.
The Dish: Griselda's World Café in the California Capitol building - Griselda's has successfully taken Tex-Mex to the state buffet line. A frequent customer at Griselda's told me that the pozole (a type of Mexican stew offered only on Mondays) is terrific. Ditto for the great greasy-spoon breakfast burritos. Torey was pleased with the amount of food on her plate: "Good portions but not monster size." Jon Ortiz in the Sac Bee.
Fast-casual restaurants gobble up market share - Fast-casual restaurants like Chipotle and Panera are just a slice of the restaurant market, but they are steadily building a following among customers looking for better quality and moderate prices. Tiffany Hsu in the Los Angeles Times.
Waiter, I'll Have the Crowd-Pleaser - Casual Restaurants Try to Lure Foodies Without Alienating Other Diners; What Makes a Dish 'Cravable.' Sarah Nassauer in the Wall Street Journal.
A food writer's top menu trends for 2012 - From pistachios to bananas Foster, NRN senior food editor Bret Thorn picks top culinary trends for the year ahead. Bret Thorn in Nation's Restaurant News.