Mama Kim

Dining News: Mother is 'Excitingly Unique'


After his gave a glowing first impression of the place in January ("Thiemann and his staff should be making every chef in town either frightened or inspired."), Sac Bee restaurant critic Blair Anthony Robertson has been eating at Mother early and often. Followers of him on twitter were treated with a constant stream of pictures from his meals there.

In this week, he reveals why he went there so often.

The more I ate, the more convinced I became that this place was excitingly unique. I couldn’t stay away, captivated at one point by the flavors of the collard greens, cooked without a hint of bitterness (and absent the obligatory pork fat). It was another Southern soul-food staple taken to new heights in California’s capital.

But I knew this review, in time, would be challenging. I couldn’t be anonymous and blend in as a regular customer. The approach would have to be different. But how? I decided to continue visiting until an idea revealed itself.

Since the chef had recognized him (as described earlier in the piece), Robertson eventually eats 100 dishes specially prepared for him by the chef. He ends the review simply with, "I recommend this restaurant."

Read the entire review in the Sac Bee.

As an aside, the other time I remember Robertson being recognized in the process of doing a review was an Oct. 2012 review of Enotria.

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Sacramento gelato artisan will go bananas at international competition - The co-founder of midtown Sacramento’s Devine Gelateria & Cafe wants nothing less than world domination, but hey, she’s willing to start with Austin, Texas. Elizabeth McCleary is flying to the Lone Star State’s capital on Tuesday to compete in the first round of the Gelato World Tour, which will culminate in a showdown in Rimini, Italy, in September. McCleary will be one of 16 contestants in Austin seeking to be crowned the world’s best gelato artisan. Only three will advance to the grand final, joining other first-round qualifiers from Dubai, Shanghai and other world cities. Cathie Anderson in the Sac Bee.

Sacramento restaurant makes top brunch spot list - OpenTable’s newest list of restaurants is a top 100 of the best places for brunch, and a Sacramento spot is on it. Mama Kim Eats, at 1616 Del Paso Blvd., which specializes in Creole, Cajun and Southern food, is the only Sacramento-area restaurant to make the list. Melissa Wiese in Sac Biz Journal.

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Dining News: Auburn's Carpe Vino a 'Truly Marvelous Restaurant'


Sac Bee restaurant critic Blair Anthony Robertson has found another restaurant to put into the highest tier of restaurants in the Sacramento region - Carpe Vino in Auburn.

But here’s a chef, so talented and committed to his craft, whose name really should be on the tip of every serious epicurean’s tongue. And the restaurant itself – a breeze to enjoy as a drop-by spot for a glass of wine and a snack or for an involved multicourse dinner – deserves to be considered right up there among the handful of the best in the region...

When it comes to farm-to-fork dining, Alexander and Carpe Vino are leaders.

Alexander’s way of expressing ingredients both familiar and esoteric, his preference for complementary and contrasting textures, his sense of color and balance on the plate, his notion to both reassure and challenge the palate, and, more than anything, his ability to build layer upon layer of flavor using time-honored techniques, are apparent throughout his repertoire.

Read the entire review in the Sac Bee.

Owner Gary Moffatt wrote a short blog post about the review.

Robertson, who has a reputation among restaurant owners for throwing stars around like they were manhole covers, was critical of the noise issue in the main dining room during the height of service...yet the weight of all of the other quality factors compelled him to award the maximum rating.

The review (click here) quite reasonably focused on the food, but our entire crew, front and back of house, get an equal share of the responsibility for all that we do.  There is no question in my mind, that pound-for-pound, Carpe Vino’s staff is champion caliber and competitive with the big boys in Midtown. . .and beyond.

Read the entire post on Carpe Vino's Blog.

I wrote about my visit to Carpe Vino last month, raving about the prix fixe meal I had during the Winter Olympics. I completely agree with Robertson about the mastery of the chef's cooking and the value the restaurant brings with its wines at retail prices. I only wish it were a little closer.

Carpe Vino is located at 1568 Lincoln Way, Auburn and can be found online at

More News:

First Bite: Blackbird Kitchen & Beer Gallery -  I was happy to see that Lampkin’s trademark “Captain’s Chowder” has remained on the new menu—creamy and satisfying, and chock-full of Pollock, squid, mussels and clams, this dish alone is worth a visit. Another appealing menu item was the salmon toro, prettily arranged on a plate with an array of lively pickled vegetables and flower petals. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

Palate Reviver: Hawks Restaurant’s Ginger Julep - Long work day? Busy, overscheduled weekend with the kids? If you’re in serious need of a pick-me-up, tuck into one of Hawks’ sprightly Ginger Juleps. Composed with Woodford Reserve bourbon, ginger syrup and fresh ginger, the mint-garnished cocktail offers up a bright, zingy, refreshing flavor that revives the tiredest of palates (and spirits). Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

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Dining News: University of Beer to Open at 16th & O Streets


University of Beer, a Davis-based tap house, is opening its second location at the Legado de Ravel building on 16th Street.

The restaurant expects to be open in about two months, said Ember, who answered the phone at the Davis location on Wednesday.

The restaurant will serve 88 beers (up from approximately 60 at its first location) and will have a full kitchen. The restaurant is owned by the same family that owns KetMoRee, a Thai restaurant in Davis, although different siblings run the different ventures.

University of Beer first launched in Davis approximately a year ago.

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Savoring 10 great places to grab lunch in ’13 - The checks have been paid and the tables cleared as our adventures in casual dining close for 2013. For dessert, we’re serving this subjective list of the 10 places my lunch pals and I liked most this year, in order of preference. Featuring 36 Handles (El Dorado Hills), Tori's Place (Del Paso Heights), Saffron Grill (Folsom), Krush Burger & others. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

Try It: Mama Kim’s King Crab and Spinach Benedict - Feeling adventurous? Mama Kim Eats on Del Paso Boulevard offers a fabulous Benedict on its brunch menu that features big chunks of King crab and silky sautéed spinach atop a crumbly cheddar-chive biscuit, slathered with spicy tomato hollandaise sauce. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

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Dining News: Seasons 52 is 'Eminently Mediocre'

Seasons 52 is a restaurant that I've enjoyed on multiple occasions. Their concept is that they're an upscale chain restaurant that serves appropriately-caloried portions (unlike a restaurant like Claim Jumper's) at the Arden Fair mall.

Sac Bee restaurant critic Blair Anthony Robertson seems to take issue with both the portion sizes and the quality of their cooking.

During that same dinner, three of us ordered main dishes that simply didn’t hold up – for flavor, for cooking technique, for quality – at this level of dining and at this price point. The grilled shrimp with cavatappi pasta ($19.50) was the best of the bunch, mostly because the ample shrimp had a tasty sear that imparted additional flavor. The pasta was average and there was little seasoning or sauce to pull it together.

The lamb dish whetted my curiosity, for I wondered how they could pull off something rich and possibly decadent like this with a calorie limit. Thanks to a little bit of magical misdirection, the kitchen balanced the plating by stretching out the asparagus (overcooked and limp) across the plate, tucking the tiny serving of lamb on one end, then plunking down a dollop of mashed potatoes and a sweet balsamic reduction. It was a noble effort to trick the eye, but for $26.95, it added up to one of the dullest and skimpiest lamb dishes I can recall.

Read the entire story in the Sac Bee.

I went back and re-read my blog post on the place after my initial visit, and after multiple visits, I think it still stands. The restaurant's at the mall, and it's good for what it tries to be.

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Addio, Michelangelo - This columnist wasn’t able to reach the new owners, Mark and Carol Hoyt, but word is that they are restaurant industry veterans who plan an American bar and grill called Easy on I at the midtown location. This will include corned beef and other marinated meats for salads and sandwiches. Cathie Anderson in the Sac Bee. (Third Item.)

Diners mourn closure of Greek Village Inn - Restaurateur Leo LaGesse reluctantly closed his Greek Village Inn at 65 University Ave. in November as a weak dollar and slower traffic made the cost of imported foods prohibitive. LaGesse told me: “We couldn’t expand. We were disappointed when Swanson’s renewed their lease next to us. We were going to take over that space and open up a bar, get another 1,400 square feet. That would have given us the potential to put a full bar in there. ... If you look into the places at Fair Oaks Boulevard now, just look at Ruth’s Chris when they did their cocktail hour. Their business has really increased with cocktail bars.” Cathie Anderson in the Sac Bee.

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Dining News: LowBrau & Block Butcher Bar Hire Former Grange Chef to Head Kitchen


LowBrau, the popular German beer hall at 20st & K streets, and its upcoming sister eatery Block Butcher Bar have brought on the talented chef Michael Tuohy to lead their culinary duties, reports Tori Masucci Cummins in Sactown Magazine.

Tuohy was widely lauded for being a leader in the farm-to-fork movement during his time at Grange, and prior to that, he was with the renowned Woodfire Grill in Atlanta for years. Most recently, he was the executive chef at St. Helena’s gourmet grocer Dean & Deluca. He and his wife Patti, who works at UC Davis Cancer Center, moved back to Sacramento from Napa at the end of May.

“This feels right,” Tuohy says. “Sacramento is a wonderful place to live, and the food scene has really taken off since I left.”

Hargis says he wants the LowBrau and Block Butcher Bar team to be known as “aficionados on charcuterie” by creating house-made salumi and other cured meats. With LowBrau’s menu, Tuohy plans to begin creating all of its sausages in-house, like a spicy fennel sausage, chorizo sausage and other unique variations with duck, goat and lamb. Other offerings will include pickled items like sauerkraut and kimchi, and main dishes like inventive panini sandwiches.

Read the entire story in Sac Mag.

Click here for more posts about LowBrau.

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Sacramento Mikuni chef wins global award - Sacramento Chef Taro Arai, owner of Mikuni Japanese Restaurant Group, won the 5th annual "Lord of Rice" contest put on by The Rice Trader, a publication for the global rice industry. As the Lord of Rice this year, Arai will lead judging in the World's Best Rice contest, part of the The Rice Trader World Conference Nov, 19-21 in Hong Kong. The conference is expected to draw 500 people from the rice industry and rice trading world. Mark Anderson in the Sac Biz Journal.

Feeding Crane Farms Opens Natomas Produce Stand - Feeding Crane Farms has opened a weekly, roadside produce stand in Natomas. The stand operates 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays off West Elkhorn Boulevard, just south of East Levee Road. The stand sells locally-grown, organic produce. On Natomas Buzz.

Ask a Pastry Chef: What to Eat at Estelle's Patisserie in Sacramento, CA - If you're a first timer, the pastry case can be daunting, with options ranging from delicate, single-serving cakes and tarts to rustic cookies and French macarons. To help make your decision easier, we got Esther's top five picks, which include a light strawberry cake that's easy to say yes to (even when you're watching your waistline) and an almond croissant made with 70-80 layers of dough. Erin Jackson in Serious Eats.

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Dining News: 10 Great Places for Sunday Brunch


Sactown Mag is one of our city's gems, and they didn't disappoint with a recent feature on some of the region's best brunches. Here's a snippet on one of midtown's favorite brunch spots - Bacon & Butter.

Creative comfort food reigns supreme—and sublime—here with inventive dishes by chef-owner Billy Zoellin, formerly of The Golden Bear, such as his perfectly cooked, made-from-scratch buttermilk pancakes in rotating flavors like blueberry ricotta and pumpkin bacon that just might be the best flapjacks in town; the deeply satisfying breakfast biscuit sandwich with bacon, eggs, onions, chives, mascarpone and a crispy cheese skirt; and thick slices of French toast dipped in orange custard and topped with cranberry sauce and whipped cream.

The article also features Roxy, Fox & Goose, The Porch, Four Sisters Cafe (Roseville), Mama Kim Eats, de Vere's Irish Pub, Monticello (Davis) and Tower Cafe.

Read the entire story in Sactown Mag.

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An inside source drops a dime on The Dime - Now we have our first glimpses of the food, which is going to be around $10. It's a great spot in teh 1800 block of L Street and, if the quality of the cooking lives up to expectations, folks are going to be lining up around the block to eat here. The dirty little secret in the farm-to-fork movement is that the food is often really expensive at restaurants that tout this way of cooking and eating. If Zonca and company can feed the masses for $10 a pop, The Dime could be the next big thing. Here's what my source reported to me. They're his words and his photos. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Big changes (and a grand opening) come to Maranello - Things are shaking up at Maranello in Fair Oaks, and a grand opening from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday will show them off...The menu has gone gastro-pub, with emphasis on bites, small plates, salads and pizzas (don't miss the ground shortrib burger). Entrees have gone from a couple dozen to seven. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

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Dining News: Hook & Ladder 'Quintessentially Sacramento'



I've eaten at Hook & Ladder at least 3 times. The first time was in November. The second time was a very pricey New Year's Eve dinner. The third was for happy hour in January. Each time, I had the same reaction. Drinks were good. Service needed work and the food was hit or miss.

But given all the reviews that I've read, I've probably had bad luck. This week, Sac Bee restaurant reviewer Blair Anthony Robertson raves about the restaurant at 17th & S.

So far, executive chef Brian Mizner has managed to fly under the radar, but that anonymity is about to end. With his impressive background, culinary skills and season-shifting menus, Mizner is destined to become a household name to discerning restaurant-goers.

The chef got here the old-fashioned way. At 15, he started at a family-owned Italian restaurant, Papa Gianni's in Cameron Park, his hometown. Within a few years, he knew all the recipes and techniques, and was pretty much running the place by 21. He did another five-year stint at City Treasure in midtown, showing up for a job interview and, within minutes, jumping on the line to start cooking.

By age 26, he had worked his way up to chef when the owner sold the place, soon to become Crepeville. Then he went to Masque in El Dorado Hills, which Esquire magazine listed in 2004 as one of America's best new restaurants. Under masterful executive chef Angelo Auriana, Mizner rose through the ranks to become chef de cuisine in what could only be described as a world-class kitchen.

So when you lift a fork of housemade pasta at Hook & Ladder – such as the hand-crafted linguine made with roasted beets, or cavatelli with roasted yellow pepper pesto, crayfish and watercress – you're tasting a direct link to the very dishes that Esquire's John Mariani and many others raved about years ago...

When we look at how good Hook & Ladder is already, and when we take stock of the talent and determination fueling the effort, it's easy to see how this restaurant will climb still higher. Soon rather than later, it could be up there with the best in the city.

Read the entire review in the Sac Bee.

Click here for more posts about Hook & Ladder.

More News:

Try It: Grange Restaurant & Bar's Buttermilk Griddle Cakes - Hankering for some first-rate pancakes? Head to Grange Restaurant & Bar. Lauded for its seasonally-inspired, farm-to-fork cuisine, the restaurant also happens to crank out a dazzling dish of buttermilk “griddle cakes” that are sure to brighten up your morning. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

Mama Kim Eats - Last night Sue and I decided to try Mama Kim Eats.  This is the brick and mortar restaurant of the Mama Kim On The Go food truck.  The restaurant is located at 1616 Del Paso the same building as the Greens Hotel and the STC Galley. The food is Cajun/Southern and it's really good. While the food was great, the service was super slow.  That's the only complaint I have. Eileen on Just Eileen and Karen.

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