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Dining News: Rock vs. Country

Two restaurants fronted by musicians entered. One was the clear victor. Sac Bee restaurant reviewer Blair Anthony Robertson took an entertaining look at the Toby Keith's I Love This Bar and Sammy's Rockin' Island Bar & Grill.

Sometimes the results can be awesome, giving us a sense of the celebrity's genuine personality and approach to having a good time. But sometimes these places can feel too corporate, too contrived, too watered down to be anything but an Applebee's with dated moves borrowed from the glory days of Hard Rock Cafe.

This week, we're stepping away from fine dining, even taking a breather from serious eating, and pitting our region's two newest celebrity restaurants against each other. Toby Keith and his version of Midwestern man-food vs. Sammy Hagar's take on Hawaii's casual cuisine. Both joints are big and loud, and often feature live music.

Keith has a restaurant in Folsom; Hagar's is in Roseville. We were looking for a good time with friendly, informal service and the appropriate level of glossy affectations like framed photos, concert costumes and other celebrity memorabilia. Yes, we'd like the food to be tasty, but it didn't have to be edgy or thrilling. We hoped for a sense of who these guys are and what they see as their ideal place to have a drink, grab a meal, enjoy some music and some laughs.

Here, they go toe to toe, in a no-holds-barred culinary cage fight featuring two celebrities who know how to have a good time.

We'll look at the great, the not-so-great and the outright lame.

I don't want to spoil the review, but it looks like Rock wins over Country in this battle.

Read the entire story in the Sac Bee.

More News:

Changes for Chops - This summer Geoff Flynn and his partners in Chops steakhouse plan to freshen up their restaurant across the street from the Capitol on L Street. "You'll see some of the bigger light fixtures and things to get more light in there," he said. "It won't be a full-scale change, but it will be enough that when you walk in, you'll notice something different." Cathie Anderson in the Sac Bee.

Burgers go wild at Cookie's Drive-In - Though most drive-ins are now memories, tiny Cookie's in east Sacramento keeps on keepin' on, and taking risks you wouldn't expect. For example: Daring diner Tom Negrete mentioned the other day that Cookie's had recently added camel to its lineup of unusual burgers, so we drove over for a taste test. He's the Sacramento Bee's director of innovation and news operations. Cookie's has been family-owned-and-run for 28 years. Staffing the kitchen last Friday were owner Paul Chuk and his adult children, Joyce and Jesse. The menu board shows the usual suspects – chili dog, Philly cheesesteak, fried shrimp and fish, fried mushrooms. But we were there for the low-fat, high-protein camel, buffalo, kangaroo and ostrich burgers, with a traditional hamburger as the control in our "science test." Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

VIDEO: How to make your own fruit infused tequila - Joel York from Centro Cocina Mexicana gives you some tips on how to make your own fruit infused tequila. On KCRA.

You're in the right place for delightful, inexpensive wines - This Presidents Day, we're all about Andrew Jackson, or recommending bottles that cost $20 or less. Each of these wines is made by local wineries that have sourced grapes from the greater Sacramento area. They represent wines including consumer favorites, Old World varietals and other wine grapes that grow especially well in our soils. Cheers to the Founding Fathers … and this time to unwind. Chris Macias in the Sac Bee.

Audio: Beer Week! Friday Food Featuring The Shack - As we've told you here, today is the kickoff for Sacramento Beer Week, a ten day celebration of brewing with a focus on Sacramento's craft beer scene. Plenty of local restaurants and bars are offering pairing dinners, and "The Shack" in East Sac is one of them. Joining us now for our Friday food segment is owner Gary Sleppy. On KFBK.


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