Crocker Cafe

Dining News: San Francisco Chronicle 'Discovers' Sacramento Cocktail Scene

Sacramento's food and cocktail scene has grown up. If Michelin gave stars in our area, I'm sure we'd have more than one restaurant that would deserve it. (I'm looking at you, The Kitchen and Enotria.)

But sometimes, it seems like our city hasn't learned to act like we belong. We may not have the quantity of excellent restaurants that a larger city has, but the quality and adventurousness are here.

Here's some evidence. Over the weekend, the San Francisco Chronicle printed two articles, one about our Food to Fork movement and one about our cocktail scene.

The reaction on social media was a little too enthusiastic. "WAHOO!" read a Tweet by a friend, whom I won't single out since it's not really about them. That's just one example of the many Facebook posts or Tweets I saw.

In looking at the articles closely, I kind of read them as a backhanded compliment.

"In bars as in baseball, Sacramento is a triple-A farm team for the Bay Area," read one of the articles. I'm surprised that the story didn't later say one our cocktails was a Sacramento 10, but a Bay Area 6.

I don't think it was meant as an insult. Maybe that line was inserted by an editor. Nevertheless, we shouldn't have to accept an attitude that's no longer true.

Sacramento's restaurants have made it. Other region's eateries may get more buzz and their chefs may be more famous, but that doesn't mean their food is better.

WHEN we receive this type of attention in the future, we shouldn't be happy with lukewarm validation. We shouldn't rejoice when we're called the tallest little person. We need to embrace our unqualified excellence, stop being happy with any attention larger cities might send our way and then, hopefully, we'll get the respect we deserve.

Read the stories for yourself and let me know what you think below.

SF Chronicle: In Sacramento's cocktail scene, a nexus of local talent

SF Chronicle: Sacramento growing a taste for local food

* Photo is a screenshot from

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Sacramento gets food famous – a Q&A with writer Ed Murrieta - Ed Murrieta has been trying to get published in the San Francisco Chronicle for 10 years. Murrieta, who's been writing about food (and drinks) since the late 1980s, finally crossed that off his bucket list this past weekend, with the publication of several stories on Sacramento's burgeoning food scene, particularly its farm-to-fork movement. Karen Wilkinson in Sac Press.

Passmore Ranch hosting entire staff of Michelin 3-star restaurant - Just after 6 a.m. today, I chatted by phone with Michael Passmore, owner and operator of Passmore Ranch, which raises six species of fish in eco-friendly ponds in Sloughhouse. He was already in the office, and with good reason. Passmore was tending to last-minute details for some very special guests today - about 50 very special guests. One of Passmore Ranch's customers is Meadowood, the world-class restaurant in St. Helena that is one of two Michelin three-star restaurants in California (the other is the French Laundry). Executive Chef Christopher Kostow and the entire restaurant staff has embarked on an educational sojourn while the dining room is being remodeled, and one of the learning trips is to Passmore Ranch. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

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Dining News: 16 Places for Fall Comfort Food

The recent rains and the early dusks are reminders that Fall is finally here. Looking for dishes that help you feel like the fall? Consider these suggestions from the Sac Bee's Allen Pierleoni on or near The Grid.

  • We're happy as a clam with multiple chowder ingredients: tender chunks of sea clams, clam broth, white wine, sherry, cream, butter, bacon, potato, fresh thyme, bay leaves, Old Bay seasoning, celery, onion, carrot and coarsely ground black pepper. Get it at Jamie's Broadway Grille, 427 Broadway, Sacramento; (916) 442-4044; www.jamiesbroadwaygrille. com.
  • Begin the day with chicken-fried New York steak (hand-cut from a strip loin), breaded and deep-fried, with from-scratch country gravy. Get it at Evan's Kitchen, 855 57th St., Sacramento; (916) 452-3896,
  • Two winners: peppercorn-and-cumin-crusted bavette steak topped with melting blue cheese-infused butter (with perfect mashed potatoes); and luscious citrus-accented salmon that's so fresh it almost swims off the plate. Get them at Crocker Cafe by Supper Club, Crocker Art Museum, 216 O St., Sacramento; (916) 808-1289, www.
  • Fried pork ribs may be a staple in the South, but not around here – except for these. Raw pork ribs are coated in seasoned flour and fried in vegetable oil. They come out tasting like a crisp hybrid of pork chop and chicken. Moist, salty, delicious, especially when dunked in the outstanding house-made 'cue sauces. Get it at T&R Taste of Texas, 3621 Broadway, Sacramento; (916) 739-1669.
  • Better burger: The patty is a half-pound of Niman Ranch short-rib meat, topped with Spanish sheep's milk manchego cheese, Little Gem lettuce, tomato confit, onion straws and a "dijonnaise" of house-made mayonnaise and Dijon mustard from France. The buttered and grilled-to-a-crunch roll is from Grateful Bread bakery. Get it at Maranello, 8928 Sunset Ave., Fair Oaks; (916) 241-9365, www.maranellorestaurant. com.

Check out all 16 suggestions in the Sac Bee.

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A Farm at the Center of Things - It’s best known for its salad mix. But Feeding Crane Farms does a lot more than proffer pretty produce. Since breaking ground a little over a year ago, the North Natomas organic farm busily extended its tentacles into a multitude of community ventures, from starting a CSA program to partnering with local restaurants for “farm to fork” dinners. You also can find Feeding Crane’s produce— tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, beans, squash, chard, kale, broccoli and more—at farmers markets and local grocery stores, including Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op and Corti Brothers. Owner Brian Shaad and his small but determined crew aren’t stopping there. If things go right, you’ll soon see food products boasting the Feeding Crane label, too. Cathy Cassinos-Carr in Sac Mag.

Enotria and Carpe Vino make the OpenTable Top 100 wine list - When you want a special bottle of wine with dinner, which restaurants are your go-to's? OpenTable has some suggestions, sort of. The San Francisco-based online restaurant-reservation company recently released its latest Diners Choice Top 100 Restaurants With the Most Notable Wine Lists. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

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Daily Dining News: New Indian Fusion Truck Launched

New food truck OM Karmabile, which launched in August, serves Indian/Fijian food, reports Brandon Darnell in Sac Press.

Like many food truck owners, Voltair and Seronika Ignacio tried to open a traditional restaurant, but couldn’t secure loans in the post-Great Recession business climate.

According to Seronika, it turned out to be a good thing.

“This seems more convenient for family life,” she said. “We work four days a week, and it’s flexible, and I get some time to stay home with the kids.”

Together, they make Indian fusion food based on Seronika’s lifelong pursuit of the culinary arts from Fiji and Voltair’s more traditional Indian tastes. Seronika said she is Indian, but she grew up in Fiji, learning how to cook from an early age from her grandmother and other relatives. Voltair grew up near McKinley Park in Sacramento.

Burritos are $6, with tacos costing $3.

Read the entire story in Sac Press. Find Om Karmabile on Facebook or Twitter.

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All things Italian will be at Hot Italian's Moderno Festival - In a mission to "reach out to the community," Hot Italian restaurant will host its third annual Moderno Italian Festival, combining "contemporary Italian food, design and film." Here's the lineup for the free fest, to be held at the restaurant and in Fremont Park (converted into a "bike-in theater" for the two movies) across the street from Hot Italian. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

Chef behind The Chef's Table plans Hill's Kitchen in Roseville - David Hill, the chef in charge of The Chef’s Table in Rocklin, plans to open a new restaurant in Roseville in November. The new place will be called Hill’s Kitchen, and it will have seating for about 100 -- double the intimate seating of The Chef’s Table, which is has been open for three years at 6843 Lonetree Blvd. in Rocklin. Mark Anderson in Sac Biz Journal.

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Daily Dining News: Firestone Public House to (Finally) Open on May 10


After a series of delays, Firestone Public House will open on May 10, reports Brandon Darnell in Sac Press. The restaurant, a joint venture between the Wong and de Vere White families (who own Cafeteria 15L and de Vere's, respectively), replaces California Pizza Kitchen at 16th & L streets and was originally scheduled to open in February.

The work to the interior accounted for much of the construction delay, de Vere White said, adding that an idea to store empty beer kegs as decoration above a window to the kitchen required the work of an engineer.

“It’s just part of the business. I’ve never had a bar that I’ve helped build or owned that’s opened on time, “de Vere White said. “It’s opened in the appropriate fashion, when it’s ready.”

A grand opening will be held from 6 - 9 p.m. May 10. Tickets are available for $75, and proceeds benefit the UC Davis Children’s Hospital.

Read the entire story in Sac Press.

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First Impressions: Two awkward introductions - In our latest installment of First Impressions, we're taking a look at two entirely different places. One is a hotly anticipated restaurant that just opened downtown, the other a new venture in the Arden-Arcade area. Glitches, misunderstandings, a broken computer system, a missing chef – let's get this party started. Featuring Blackbird Kitchen & Bar and The Farmer's Daughter. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Counter Culture: Can't beat the ambience at Crocker Cafe - Steak doesn't get much better – especially when a pat of blue cheese-infused butter is melting on top of the dark crust of pink peppercorn and cumin. The Angus beef was a bit beyond the medium-rare we'd ordered, but the deep flavors made up for it. Mashed potatoes were rich and light, and the broccoli raab (Ocean Mist Farms) tasted like it was just plucked (ditto for the bok choy with the salmon). Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

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Daily Dining News: Opening of Firestone Public House Delayed Until April


Firestone Public House, the hotly-anticipated restaurant replacing CPK at the corner of 16th & L, was originally scheduled to open by the end of February.

The restaurant, a partnership between the Wong Family who own Cafeteria 15L, Ma Jong's Asian Diner, Mix Downtown, and The Park Ultra Lounge and the de Vere White family who owns de Vere's Irish Pub, is now slated to open in April, says their Craigslist ad for new staff.

When it finally opens, Firestone Public House will be a sports bar featuring 60 beers on tap. To learn more about Firestone Public House, read Brandon Darnell's article about the place in Sac Press from October 2011.

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First Bite: Red Rabbit - I had a chance this week to check out The Red Rabbit, which has recently moved into the midtown space last occupied by Red Lotus on J Street. It was packed with chatty twenty-somethings, and the bar area was particularly lively. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

Q&A: Revamped Crocker Cafe looks to be state of the art - The Crocker Cafe gets a new flavor Tuesday with the debut of new operators Matt and Yvette Woolston of Matteo's Pizza & Bistro and the Supper Club. Although the Woolstons are no longer running their Supper Club restaurant on Del Paso Boulevard, they will be using the name as they play host to "pop up" dinners around town. Chris Macias in the Sac Bee.

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