September is a celebration for all things Farm to Fork in Sacramento. While the vast majority of us can't afford/score tickets to the exclusive and expensive Tower Bridge dinner, we can all participate in Farm to Fork Restaurant Weeks where local restaurants create a special farm to fork dish or menu.
The event lasts through Sept. 25 and benefits the Food Literacy Center, a very worthy charity that teaches healthy eating skills to local school children.
I was invited to try Grange's Dixon Lamb Ragout (a hankerchief pasta with heirloom peppers, fresh ricotta and extra virgin olive oil), with $2 of the $29 dollar price going to the Food Literacy Center.
Let me start with a disclosure. Grange comped my party the Dixon Lamb Ragout, and brought out several more appetizers for us to sample. With that said, I still spent $180 on a meal for two. Obviously, it wasn't cheap, but it turned out to be one of my top 3 meals thus far in 2016 in Sacramento. (If you're wondering, the other two were at Kru and at Skool.)
The Dixon Lamb Ragout was an excellent dish. The featured pasta is called a hankerchief pasta because it starts as a flat sheet and is folded over many times like a hankerchief. A generous portion, the dish featured nuanced and complex flavors topped with sweet peppers. I especially liked the contrast between the ricotta cheese and the savory sauce. I don't recall ever having this type of pasta. Definitely worth a try.
Here are some other dishes I loved:
Figs with avocado, nectarines, pickled onions and topped with EVOO.
This dish was comped, so I don't know what they would charge if you tried to order it, but based on the other salads on the menu, my guess is about $15. It is really the zenith of featuring local ingredients, preparing them skillfully and slightly and letting their natural flavors shine through. This dish embodies the Sacramento food ethos in 2016. It's a great appetizer.
Brentwood Corn Soup with crispy cherrystone clam, bacon, golden patotoes and celery ($10)
Their take on a corn chowder, this was another dish that used one of the area's iconic summer vegetables and showcased it with gusto. The soup was creamy and yet light, and the fried clam was a homage to the ingredient most associated with chowders. The table side preparation was a nice touch.
Watanabe Tomatoes with fromage blanc, pickled onions, arugula, tarragon, olive oil and balsamic ($14)
This summer, I've started growing tomatoes in my backyard, and I'm starting to understand the joy of eating a juicy and ripe tomato picked an hour before it ended up on your plate. This is another seemingly simple dish, but the combination of the Watanabe's mastery of growing the summer fruit and the top shelf olive oil and herbs makes it a beautiful and mouthwatering salad.
Salmon Tartare with avocado, soy-ginger, shallot, jalapeno "caviar," and hand cut chips ($16)
The waiter called this one of Grange's signature dishes, and it was readily apparent why. The appetizer, which was comped, was a great shareable and featured jalapeno "caviar" which is really mild jalapeno juice formed into tiny balls. It is a light and refreshing way to start a meal.
I usually only get to Grange once a year, but this year, it provided a superior meal. Sure, the restaurant is now firmly priced in the special occasion tier, but you'll really enjoy it for the birthday/anniversary/promotion that you're going to celebrate.
I also want to give a shout out to our waiter Roger H. He has been with Grange since they opened, and his knowledge of the menu and affability really enhanced our dining experience. Ask to sit in his section next time you grab dinner there.
Grange is located at 926 J Street and can be found online at http://www.grangesacramento.com/.
To see what other restaurants are doing for Farm to Fork Restaurant Weeks, visit http://www.farmtofork.com/events/restaurant-week/2016-farm-fork-restaurant-weeks-participants/.