Dining News: Second Sac Restaurant Adds Kitchen Tip Option


Following in the footsteps of Magpie, Ella has added a kitchen tip option to their receipts.

For those unfamiliar with the way tips are distributed, generally, only service staff can legally share in the tips. Kitchen staff is prohibited by law from getting a cut (unless servers choose to share their tips as a gift), and this leads to great pay disparities between the front of the house and back of the house staff.

Click here for a more detailed explanation of the issue.

Magpie was the first Sacramento restaurant to add a line where diners could choose to leave a tip of any amount for kitchen staff. Ella's option is similar, but the receipt asks if you want to "allocate 5% of the above tip to the Kitchen Staff." My server clarified that it meant that for every $100 in tips collected, $5 would go to the kitchen staff. This does not mean that if you leave a 20 percent tip, 5 percent goes to the kitchen, with the remaining 15 percent going to the servers.

One of the criticisims of the Magpie system is that some servers started to see less take home pay as diners started splitting the same tip percentage between service and kitchen staff. The Ella system seems to try to tackle this issue by strongly suggesting that 5 percent go to the kitchen, though I suppose one could change that 5 percent split to any number.

Selland's PR contact did not respond to a phone and e-mail request for comment and elaboration on Wednesday afternoon. My server at Ella during an afternoon visit said that the change took place at the beginning of the year.

While we're on the topic of tipping, there was a great San Francisco Chronicle article earlier this month that examined what's happened to restaurants that have tried to eliminate tipping and increase wages.

So when Sous Beurre Kitchen opened in the Mission in February, Mauschbaugh followed the example of five Bay Area restaurants that abandoned tipping in late 2014. He printed all-inclusive prices on his menu, which allowed him to pay his kitchen staff well above minimum wage and offer health insurance.

This October, though, Mauschbaugh aban-doned the tipless model and issued pay cuts. “We got overrun with taxes, and it became unsustainable,” he said.

Read the entire article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

More News:

Rum Rok - The weather may be cooling down but this newly opened Tiki bar has been heating up the downtown bar scene ever since it opened Dec. 9...Co-owner Bob Simpson hopes that the bar, which occupies a former nightclub space on the corner of H and 15th streets, will become a go-to stop for concert and theater-goers attending shows at nearby Memorial Auditorium and Wells Fargo Pavilion. In Sactown Magazine. (Fifth item.)

Soup as medicine: Aka Tonkotsu, Ryujin Ramen House - But there’s no rest for the busy, so I load up on soothing soups like the Aka Tonkotsu ($8.95) from Ryujin Ramen House. With spicy red ginger, green onions, BBQ pork and plenty of super-hot broth, it’s like medicine in a bowl. I love the semicooked egg, too, for its creamy smoothness. Ann Martin Rolke in Sac News & Review.

That parm, tho - Rocklin recently got its first Jimboy’s Tacos, which held its official grand opening last week. Welcome to Parmesan-dusted heaven, Rocklin. The Rocklin Jimboy’s (5410 Crossings Drive) joins the Folsom location and a few spots further away in testing new Jimboy’s menu items. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

Tea, please - More and more boba shops keep opening in Natomas. The latest is T4 U, which boasts hip decor and excellent credentials. The first T4 opened in Taiwan in 2004, slowly adding more Taiwan locations before expanding to Malaysia in 2012. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review. (Fourth item.)

Bakery’s invisible expansion - Its customers may not realize it, but the popular Karen’s Bakery & Cafe in Old Folsom has practically doubled its space. After years of having its cooking and baking staff squeeze into a tiny kitchen, the business has leased a nearby building that formerly housed the Thai Siam Restaurant. Bob Shallit in the Sac Bee.

Continue reading "Dining News: Second Sac Restaurant Adds Kitchen Tip Option" »

Dining News: Dine Dowtown Starts on Thursday


For the next 10 days, restaurant enthusiasts who are on a budget get to eat at some of Sacramento's finest restaurants for a little less.

From Thursday, January 15 to Saturday, January 24, you can get a 3 course meal at 26 downtown and midtown restaurants for only $31. (FYI - the extra $1 goes to the Food Literacy Center, a great charity that helps teach school children how to make healthy food choices.)

Participating restaurants include Grange, Ella, Firehouse, Hook & Ladder, Blackbird, etc. Visit the Dine Downtown Web site to see what the local chefs are offering.

But getting a $31, three-course meal Ella, Firehouse, or any one of the top tier of restaurants is the easy and obvious way to do it. If your budget only allows you to eat out once, then by all means, go to a great restaurant like Grange.

If you have the opportunity to do it twice (or more), I encourage you to expand your horizons. Go for one of the less obvious restaurants, or for a restaurant that you walk by all the time to see what they have to offer. I'm personally guilty of this with Chops. I work on that block, walk by it every day, and yet have never eaten dinner ther. (Happy hour's another story.) I should go there and discover that place. The investment's only $31. Maybe it's a great find that's waiting to be discovered.

Maybe that restaurant for you is Blue Prynt. It's a little out of the way, but there must be a reason that restaurant has survived this long. Maybe you'll like it.

So spread the love, and visit one of Sacramento's gems that's waiting to be discovered by you.

More News:

Feast Q&A: 10 years of Dine Downtown event in Sacramento - Ten days, 26 restaurants, three courses for $31. The numbers add up to the 10th annual Dine Downtown Restaurant Week, a bargain-priced opportunity for foodies and newbies to revisit old favorites and discover new ones. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

Eat fancy for $31: Dine Downtown kicks off Thursday - Some of these participating restaurants are among the fanciest and priciest in town: Ella Dining Room & Bar, Grange, Biba, the Firehouse Restaurant. Grange put its coffee-braised zabuton—the little-known, tender cut between the chuck and the rib eye—on its Dine Downtown menu, and the dish usually goes for $28 all on its own. That dish, by the way, was featured in the Saveur 100. Big deal. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

Get great meals for a steal during Dine Downtown - This year, the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, which produces Dine Downtown, is hosting scavenger hunts on the weekdays leading up to the event. The games begin at noon at various midtown and downtown restaurants, and folks can participate by following #DineDowntown2015 on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Prizes include items like IMAX tickets, passes to the Sacramento Food Film Festival and tickets to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, all paired with a gift card to a local eatery. Jessica Rine in Sactown Mag.

Continue reading "Dining News: Dine Dowtown Starts on Thursday" »

Dining News: South to Open on Tuesday


South will finally open on Tuesday, the restaurant announced on Facebook.

It had an inspection today, but some "minor fixes" were required. The inspector will return on Monday and the restaurant expects to be open the next day.

Here's a little more on the restaurant from Tori Masucci Cummins in Sactown Mag.

Other big news for the restaurant is that a new executive chef is coming on board: Rachel Kelly, formerly of Revolution Wines and Ella...Kelly has a fresh vision for South’s menu, mixing Southern influences with a clean California edge.

With the tagline “tradition reinvented,” the restaurant’s menu will be split into “old school” and “new school” eats. Look for classic items like the signature fried chicken (N'Gina’s mother’s recipe; it’s seasoned inside and outside) and a crispy fried tiger shrimp po’ boy. Fun twists on Southern staples will include Carolina rice balls (a twist on arancini) and a deep-fried oyster and steamed crayfish Louie.

Read the entire article in Sactown Mag.

Owner N'Gina Kavookjian also took to her blog to describe the anxiety involved in opening a highly anticipated restaurant.

The hype is getting to me...

We have been blessed with the attention, the articles, the blog love that we have received over the past two years, but I find myself in these really shitty panicky moments of feeling like all the hype about South could backlash against us. That Sacramentians that crave the next "it" spot may put us on pedestal that, not only did I not want to stand on, but could not live up to in the imaginations of what some people perceive South to be.

Read her entire post on South's Blog.

I'm really excited to give the restaurant a try and to experience it as the owners have conceived.

South is located at 2005 11th St, and can be found online at

More News:

Shoki Ramen House - “A bowl of dreams” is what the folks at Shoki Ramen House call their noodles, and after my first experience there, I can honestly say a bowl of dreams it was. Ana Marie Aguas in Sac Foodies.

Not hipster-famous—yet - Our humble city's getting some national recognition on an episode of a show called Carnival Eats—airing on Food Network, the Cooking Channel and Great American Country—in which host Noah Cappe visits the California State Fair. In the episode, he'll sample the fair's “spaghetti ice cream,” (ice cream shaped like spaghetti and topped with a strawberry sauce) and lobster corn dogs. Jonathan Mendick in Sac News & Review.

Fahrenheit 250 raises the bar for barbecue - Ray Lettini and Gino Sardo opened Fahrenheit 250 in March. The primary concept was to offer quality meats cooked low and slow in the smoke of locally seasoned oak and fruit woods. This alone could set the restaurant apart from so many other barbecue joints that par cook meat before hot-smoking it, and which use wood pellets to create that smoke. But when you add in the other aspects of Farenheit 250, such as knowledgeable servers providing full table service, creative housemade side dishes and carefully crafted cocktails, you get a stand-out restaurant. Andrea Thompson in Sac Biz Journal.

New business brings healthy doughnuts to Roseville - A new Roseville business is attempting to achieve the impossible: using "healthy" and "doughnut" in the same sentence. And yes, there's glaze involved. Dr. Bob's Donuts & DoYos plans to open Monday at 336 Lincoln St. The business will sell vegan, low-sugar doughnuts made with organic grains and protein powders, among other ingredients. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Continue reading "Dining News: South to Open on Tuesday" »

Dining Deals: Fahrenheit 250 BBQ, Biba


I've had Fahrenheit 250 BBQ several times, most recently as take out during the NBA playoffs. As their restaurant continues to mature, my experience is that they've continued to improve their execution and consistency on their food. I'd definitely go back.

If you want to give it a try, here's your chance, at nearly half off.

More Deals:

Dining News: Krush Burger Coming to Davis in December


Krush Burger, the Sacramento food truck pioneer turned restaurant mogul, announced that it's next brick and mortar location will be in Davis.

The newest location in the college town, at 1411 West Covell Blvd., is Krush Burger's second location in California, with an additional location in Dubai.

This location is near student housing and in a shopping center anchored by a Safeway supermarket frequented by both locals and part time residents. Other eateries in that shopping center include Dos Coyotes, Jack's Urban EAts, Jamba Juice, Panda Express, Noah's Bagles, Peet's Coffee and Togo's.

Krush Burger replaces Rostini Italian Kitchen, which closed in Feb. after a 2 year run. Prior to that, the space was occupied by a Strings Italian Cafe, per the Davis Patch.

I stopped by on Saturday evening, and it looks like the space needs a little work before it can open as a Krush Burger. While the kitchen has already been built out, the branding isn't up yet, and the space doesn't have the same look and feel of the Krush Burger at the State Lottery building.

Krush Burger can be found online at

More News:

Oak Park brewery, restaurant eyes 2014 opening - The Oak Park Brewing Co. and The Thirsty Fork restaurant are on track to open on Broadway early next year. Christopher Davis-Murai will run the restaurant side of the business with seating for 50 inside and seating for 70 outside of the 3,400-square-foot brick building at 3514 Broadway. Davis-Murai is a seasoned personal chef and was the guy behind the Bicycle Chef in midtown and East Sacramento. Mark Anderson in Sac Biz Journal.

Sorry Folks, Bandera is Still the Best Burger in Town - I know it’s a chain. I know the drinks are too expensive. I know you can’t go there without getting hit on by some geriatric divorcee or Persian car dealer. I know. I know all of these things. It doesn’t make the burger taste any worse. It is a perfect burger. On The Sac Rag.

First Impressions: Lou’s Sushi on P Street - He’s humble. He’s hungry. And he’s gifted. Just ask the legion of followers who have been watching social media with interest as Valente was making the transition from sushi chef at Zen Sushi on 15th Street to owner/sushi chef at Lou’s Sushi on P Street. Clearly, Valente has cachet and star potential. How much does he love and respect the craft? He was moved to tears watching “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.” Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Continue reading "Dining News: Krush Burger Coming to Davis in December" »

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.

Continue reading "Dining News: Rock vs. Country" »

Dining Deals: Mayahuel, Bistro Michel, Biba

Looking for a last minute holiday gift? How about a half off deal to great Downtown restaurants. Here are a couple ideas that are on sale right now:

Looking for more deals like this? Check out the Cowtown Eats guide to saving 50 percent at good restaurants.