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Dining News: Contrasting Views on Hook & Ladder


Unlike math, food is subjective. What I might like, you might hate, or vice versa. Today, we have a prime example of that in two reviews of Hook & Ladder, the restaurant that replaced Hangar 17.

First, over at The Sac Rag.

The food, when it suffers, also suffers from this “too-cute” syndrome. The fried chicken sandwich should be a thing of beauty. The bread is po-boy soft, the chicken fried a gorgeous Halle Berry hue. But then it’s topped with sweet barbeque sauce, potato chips, and neon pink vinegar slaw. You know what happens next, the neon slaw stains everything in the sandwich pink, mixes with the overly sweet q sauce, and, before you can say Shanghai Knights, you’ve got yoruself a sweet and sour chicken sandwich. I, for one, do not want to eat a sweet and sour chicken sandwich. I want fried chicken with buttermilk slaw and maybe a little kick of heat. That’s about it. No need to cute it up on my account.

Like I said, picky picky. The place itself feels pretty good while you’re in it. The food tastes good while it’s in your mouth. The drinks do a great job of making life bearable. I kind of like the place. They just need to ask themselves a few times a day “Is this extra layer of cutesyness that we’ve added to the food/drink/decor necessary and does it make our restaurant better?” After answering “no” a few times, they might strip the place down to what it needs to be and kick some butt.

Second, over at Sac Press.

The house favorite is the fried chicken sandwich. I was hesitant to try it, but when the staff of a restaurant recommends something, I listen. I’m glad I did. The first bite was unexpectedly sweet and tart, and then juicy and crunchy sensations soon followed. The chicken is lightly breaded and fried, obviously fresh and exceptionally tender. The pickled onion slaw is tangy, and might be too much on its own if it weren’t balanced with the sweet barbecue sauce. The house potato chips add just enough crunch to a sandwich that might be too soft without them. The hand cut fries on the side are like hand-held baked potatoes, soft on the inside and lightly crisped on the outside.

I am also recommended the Ginger Beer made with a house-made ginger simple syrup and club soda. For lunch, this mocktail has the right amount of spicy bite with just a touch of sweet. Next time, though I plan to try a draft cocktail—cocktails made ahead of time in large batches and are poured to order. The Negroni, a cocktail made with gin calls out to me.

Two disparate opinions on the fried chicken sandwich at Hook & Ladder. Either they're inconsistent in executing the dish, or different people have very different tastes. I haven't gone yet because they don't have a happy hour yet, but when I do give the place a try, I'll be ordering that entree to decide for myself.

More News:

Counter culture: Brisket, baby back ribs get a Caribbean twist at Negril - My two lunch pals and I jumped on the Super Combo of brisket, jerk chicken and baby back ribs, with from-scratch potato salad, rather dry coleslaw and wet "bar-b-que" beans ($26.75). We also ordered smoked salmon and sturgeon, hot links, a pile of pulled pork, crisp sweet- potato fries and crumble-at-the-touch corn muffins on the side. Meats and fish are also sold by the pound. Later, we ranked them. The tender baby backs ("The best ribs I've had in midtown," said one lunch pal) and brisket tied for first place. No. 2 was the slightly charred (a good thing) hot links ("This link is hot!"), followed by pulled pork ("It needs some fat and could have been cooked longer") and jerk chicken ("Surprisingly dry"). The best side dishes were the house-made pinto beans – soft and mellow, with nice heat – and crisp sweet- potato fries. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

Former Placerville resident and chef de cuisine Timothy Hollingsworth leaving French Laundry - We've been following Timothy Hollingsworth's career pretty closely at the Bee over the last few years. This former Placerville resident has one of the most intriguing culinary careers that we've ever seen. He got his start as a dishwasher at Zachary Jacques in Placerville and soon became one of its chef. He never went to culinary school, or worked at another restaurant, but had the gumption to apply for a job at French Laundry, the famed three Michelin star restaurant operated by Thomas Keller. Hollingsworth barely got the gig - Keller initially passed on Hollingsworth - and the young chef started as an entry-level commis. Hollingsworth rose to sous chef, and then earned one of the most prestigious titles in the culinary world: chef de cuisine for French Laundry, the head of its kitchen and Keller's right hand man...Hollingsworth is now looking to learn more about video-media production, and has talked with different companies about developing show ideas. He's also working out a business plan for his own Mexican restaurant. Chris Macias in the Sac Bee.

Former Buggy Whip for sale on Fulton - The Buggy Whip restaurant, a longtime Fulton Avenue landmark, is up for sale with a $1.85 million asking price. The steak house and bar, founded in 1959, closed in May after a bankruptcy filing by its operator. Now the property's owner has placed an ad on Craigslist and already has interest from at least two restaurateurs, said Buddy Bergstrom, broker with Bergstrom Realty & Investment, which is handing the listing. Bob Shallit in the Sac Bee.

A taste-bud symphony - A meal at the Persian restaurant Famous Kabob is a symphony of tart flavors, starting with the block of feta cheese on the complimentary appetizer plate. A bubbled, hubcap-sized, lightly charred flatbread that’s brought ceremoniously to the table serves as a wrap for the cheese and fresh herbs, including cilantro and mint. A small dish of hummus is heavily flavored with tahini, which gives it a lingering bitterness. Becky Gruenwald in Sac News & Review.

VIDEO: Sacramento super chef Randall Selland shares a few secrets - Chef Randall Selland has been cooking his way into people's hearts for about 30 years. He owns four restaurants in the Sacramento region: Ella, two Selland Market Cafes, and The Kitchen. "I was in a different field and while I was traveling in Europe and told my wife, 'Honey, I think I want to cook.' She said 'Okay' and I've been cooking ever since," Selland said. Darla Givens on News 10.


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