Rail Bridge Cellars

Dining News: RIP Italian Stallion Grill, Hello EastSMF Restaurant


EastSMF, by the owners of the now defunct Monticello in Davis, have opened in East Sac, reports Jessica Rine in Sactown Mag.

Like Monticello, EastSMF (the name pays tribute to the restaurant’s East Sacramento location and the capital city’s airport) boasts an ever-changing seasonal menu using produce from local farms, with the bulk coming from Fiddlers Green Farm in Brooks, owned by Jim Eldon, who was a part owner of Monticello. Currently, EastSMF's menu offerings include sautéed mussels in a curry coconut broth; a beet salad with black radishes and a sherry Dijon vinaigrette; buckwheat crepes with “wild and civilized” mushrooms including chanterelle and shiitake varieties, Gruyere and crème fraiche; and a lavender Meyer lemon crème brûlée for dessert.

While the Gruska’s downsized from their Davis locale—EastSMF seats about 40 in the main dining area and about 20 in the bar compared to Monticello's 85-seat dining room—Rhonda says they are happy with the clean, modern vibe of their new location with its open kitchen, mint green walls, and chocolate brown and stainless steel accents. They also have patio seating, something they always wanted but never had at Monticello.

Read the entire story in Sactown Mag.

That spot has housed a number of restaurants. Most recently, it was Italian Stallion Grill, which opened in January 2014 and according to Yelp reviews, closed in April 2015.

EastSMF is located at 3620 J St. and can be found online at http://eastsmf.info/.

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Beer Run: Calibrating our palates with cookies, of all things - coff if you want, but this was serious business. Cookies paired with premium beer, whether it’s a hopped-up and dank IPA, a silky smooth stout or a fruity sour, has become something of a trend. A few weeks earlier, I attended a cookies-meets-beer event at New Glory Craft Brewery and the cookies were all but gobbled up and gone by the time I got there. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Maligned for decades, MSG comes back - Plenty about monosodium glutamate, better known as MSG, is puzzling and peculiar. Indeed, many would argue that the ongoing assault on this ubiquitous flavor enhancer is just wacky. MSG has its defenders, including some of Sacramento’s top mainstream chefs, but unless you’re a hardcore foodie or culinary insider, probably everything you’ve heard about MSG is wrong. Is it possible that many of us have expended far too much time and energy through the years awkwardly asking about it at Chinese restaurants, avoiding it whenever possible and repeating claims about it that have long since been debunked? Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Thai cuisine takes a few unusual turns at Sawasdee - Sawasdee’s take on green papaya salad (som tam) held wonderful heat and texture. The shredded papaya had been traditionally prepared in a mortar with tomato, long bean, garlic, peanuts and lime juice in well-orchestrated harmony. “This is a great combination of flavors,” Norm said. Agreed. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

New local coffee shop in the works, with a familiar face - A co-founder of Insight Coffee Roasters has left the company and plans to open his own local cafe next month. Lucky Rodrigues left locally owned Insight last October. The decision was driven largely by a desire to spend more time with his family, according to Rodrigues, who said he wasn't sure of his long-term career plans at the time of his departure. "I just kind of jumped off the cliff," he said. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Local coffee shop closing in February - A local coffee shop with indoor play areas for children will permanently shut its doors in February. Java Mama Folsom confirmed the decision on its Facebook page. The store at 2776 East Bidwell St. opened in January 2014. Its final day of business will be Feb. 26. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

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Dining News: Four Events I'm Excited For During Sac Bacon Fest


It's the most wonderful time of the year. Sac Bacon Fest has returned so we can celebrate all things swine over through  Sunday, January 31.

With over 100 events planned, there's sure to be something for everyone. But for my time and money, here are the four I'm looking forward to:

Monday, Jan. 25: Bacon Fest Opening Night at Empress Tavern, featuring one of the underground 86'ed chef competitions between three former Bacon Fest champions: Brad Cecchi (formerly of Grange), Kelly Hogge (Magpie) and Ian MacBride (Lucca). Doors open at 6 p.m., with competition starting at 7:30 p.m. Free.

Tuesday, Jan. 26: Bacon Fest Happy Hour at the new Magpie. featuring Pretzel Dogs (Nido made pretzel buns, kosher dog and BLT relish), Pork Belly Bao (Steamed buns, Magpie's braised belly, spice honey and cilantro), Corned Pork, roots and cabbage, Kelly's Lamb Bacon, Morocco spice, yogurt and flat bread,
Pork and Beans (Llano Secco heirloom beans and lardon), Magpie cured Guanciale, chicory and poached egg, and Bacon and Nut Brittle (Gunther's ice cream)
From 4-7pm. $25 in advance or $35 at the door. Includes tax not tip, food not booze.

Friday, Jan. 29: The Golden Bear presents the Baddest Bacon Happy Hour, featuring Chow Mein (Caramelized Pork Belly, Fresh Veggies, Sweet Soy Sauce), Belly & Beet Salad (Baby Spinach and Arugula, Toasted Almonds, Feta Cheese, Pork Belly Croutons, Bacon-Honey Vinaigrette, Mini BLTs, (House Made Apple Smoked Bacon, Mixed Greens, Cherry Tomatoes, Black Garlic Aioli, on Peppered Bacon Focaccia) and Buffalo Wings (Boneless Wings Wrapped in Peppered Bacon, House Made Buffalo Sauce). All special Bacon Fest food items are $7.50. 4 to 7 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 30: Bacon paella at Selland’s in East Sacramento. Paella cooked in Selland's giant 4-ft Paella Pan outdoors, filled with house-cured traditional bacon and chorizo bacon, prawns, mussels, chicken stock, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions and saffron rice. Their house recipe Sangria will also be available! $11 per bowl.

Looking for more information or for another event that might be more to your liking, visit BaconFestSac.com or the Sac Bacon Fest Facebook page.

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VIDEO: Fried Baloney sliders featured at Sacramento’s Bacon Fest - This morning chef Jason Azevedo from the Paragary group's Hock Farm is in the KCRA kitchen preparing fried baloney sliders for Sac Bacon Fest.  On KCRA

Feast Q&A: Barkeep stirs things up for Bacon Fest throwdown - Which takes us to the fifth annual Sacramento Bacon Fest, Jan. 25-31 at various venues. Opening night will be at Empress Tavern, the unusual brick-walled space underneath the Crest Theatre. The homage to bacon will continue with bacon-centric meals (including bacon paella at Selland’s in East Sacramento), a tribute to actor Kevin Bacon and a bacon-themed brewery tour aboard a bus. Debuting at this year’s porcine party be the Bacon Fest Cocktail Battle at Bottle & Barlow, the hybrid bar and barbershop along the R Street Corridor. There, co-owner and house mixologist Jayson Wilde will serve his bacon-infused cocktails and oversee a throw-down involving area bartenders who will “battle for cash with the best bacon-inspired concoctions.” Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

Time travel - RailBridge Cellars & Co. is expected to serve breakfast, lunch and happy hour fare. No menu yet, but it’ll probably be simple stuff. The main draw will be its grand setting. The restaurant occupies the ground floor of the Elks Tower (921 11th Street), a beautiful, historic building and favorite downtown wedding venue, which also hosts the RailBridge Cellars penthouse tasting room. With vintage decor and a swingin’ vibe, owners say they hope diners will feel like they’ve traveled back to the 1920s. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

Feast Q&A: Delivery service calms one’s inner cookie monster - Sometimes hunger strikes late at night, and only a snickerdoodle will do. Yet people who crave cookies at midnight often are the same people who perpetually lack the ingredients – flour, cinnamon, ambition – needed to bake them at home. For them, there’s Cookies & Milk, a service that delivers still-warm, baked-to-order cookies, along with small cartons of milk, to Sacramentans within the central city and some adjacent neighborhoods. Carla Meyer in the Sac Bee.

Best buffets and places to gorge and overeat in Sacramento - Go for that last chicken wing. You can always wheeze yourself to sleep, baby. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

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Dining News: 5 Things to Know About RailBridge Cellars & Co., Opening in Elks Tower

Railbridge cellarsEarlier this month, Cowtown Eats reported that the new RailBridge Cellars & Co. would open in the ground floor of the Elks Tower on Feb. 10. Now, Sac Biz Journal's Sonya Sorich has more details on the place.

Here are 5 things you need to know about this upcoming restaurant:

1. The executive chef will be Christian Sieck, who worked in Enotria for 10 years in the same role before leaving to help open Toast in Granite Bay in 2007.

2. One of their featured sandwiches will be a pastrami sandwich called "The Levine," named after Larry Levine who helped source the meat. Levine is the father of former Assemblyman Lloyd Levine and the father in law of KCRA anchor Edie Lambert.

3. The restaurant plans a soft opening on Feb. 1 ahead of its Feb. 10 grand opening.

4. Prior to 2 p.m., the restaurant will offer counter service, with the late afternoon and evening crowd getting table service.

5. The restaurant will "focus on wine and craft beer, with some specialty Manhattans and martinis."

Read the entire story in Sac Biz Journal.

When it opens, RailBridge Cellars will be located at 921 11th St., and can be found online at http://www.railbridgecellarsandcompany.com/.

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First Impressions: New Hawks good but loud - As an offshoot of a fine-dining restaurant that keeps the atmosphere casual but food quality high, the new Hawks immediately evokes OneSpeed, Rick Mahan’s (The Waterboy) pizza-centric place that sits not too far away from Hawks, on Folsom Boulevard. OneSpeed’s high noise levels never have deterred East Sacramentans from patronizing it. Hawks likely will keep packing ’em in as well, especially given its high quality of service. Carla Meyer in the Sac Bee.

The Ramen King: Ryujin and Raijin Ramen House Owner Sai Wong - Lately nothing sounds better to me on a cold winter day than walking over to a local ramen house and refueling by way of slurpable noodles in a piping hot, deeply flavored broth. For a while, Sacramento had very few places to satisfy this craving; now the demand is growing and high-quality ramen is not so hard to find. One man responsible for bringing high-quality ramen to Sacramento is Sai Wong. Mr. Wong is a restaurateur who lives and breathes ramen, so it made sense for him to open not just one, but two ramen houses in the area. What caught my eye, however, was the fact that they are located right across the street from each other. Ronnie Cline in Submerge Mag.

West Sacramento approves grant application for new craft brewery - Revision Brewing Company received a nod of approval from the West Sacramento City Council last week to set up a craft microbrewery and taproom in town. Council members passed a resolution at their Wednesday meeting to submit a $330,000 grant application to the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development to provide the brewery a loan for its startup costs. Revision Brewing is co-owned and co-operated by Jeremy Warren, founder of popular Knee Deep Brewing Company in Auburn, and Jeb Taylor. Ellen Garrison in the Sac Bee.

Coffee wars continue as new player enters region - The Human Bean will welcome customers next week. The drive-thru kiosk at 2401 Coppervale Drive in Rocklin will open at 5 a.m. on Jan. 12. It's the second Human Bean location in California. The company offers a variety of espresso beverages, as well as teas and smoothies. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Here's what's happening at Poor Red's - Call it a renovation, upgrade or expansion. Either way, El Dorado County landmark Poor Red's Bar-B-Q is getting closer to reopening. The bar and restaurant is expected to be ready for customers in March, according to the business partners involved in the venture. Jeff Genovese, Mike Genovese and Mike Hountalas are leading the project. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

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Dining News: RailBridge Cellars & Co. in Elks Tower Opening Sets Opening Date

Railbridge cellarsRailBridge Cellars & Co., to be located on the ground floor at the Elks Tower at 11th & J, is scheduled to open on Feb. 10 (Updated on Feb. 2 - RailBridge will now open on Feb. 8), it announced via a Craigslist jobs post.

According to the post, RailBridge Cellars "be a full service restaurant that features Nouveau California Cuisine, craft beer, retail wine, gourmet coffee's along with a Manhattan and Martini bar. Counter service during the day, converting to table service after 2 p.m...We anticipate RBC&CO to be an extremely fast paced environment, thus we are looking for team members that can think quick on their feet, with attention to detail and a passion in serving the community."

Here's what the owners told the Sac Bee's Bob Shallit back in October:

The goal is to create a 1920s-era vibe, with vintage fixtures, exposed brick and antique marble.

“You’re going to walk in and think you took a step back in time,” said Michael Gelber, president of Alexis Ventures..

Perhaps the most arresting feature will be windows allowing diners to gaze down into what was once the Elks’ basement swimming “tank.” Over the past year, Gelber has converted that area into a lounge where groups gather for meals while seated in the former pool. “VIP” seating is available in two hot tubs that were added to the room in the 1960s...

At that time, they expected the restaurant to open around Thanksgiving. Obviously, it took longer than they thought.

RailBridge Cellars is owned by Alexis Ventures, which also operates Railbridge Cellars, Railbridge Cellars Penthouse Lounge, Underground Lounge, Alexis Catering, Libations by Alexis, The Elks Tower Ballroom and Strings Urban Kitchen. Strings Urban Kitchen, located at Capitol Towers at 7th & O streets, was recently named to the Sac Bee's ‘best-of’ in casual dining for 2015.

For those interested in getting a job at the restaurant, drop off your resume between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. through Thursday this week.

RailBridge Cellars & Co. will be located at 921 11th Street and can be found online at http://www.railbridgecellarsandcompany.com/.

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Stream it: Netflix and Chill, Shady Lady Saloon - The past four years, there's been a holiday hot toddy bartender competition at the Golden Bear. And Travis Kavanaugh has lost. But this year the Shady Lady bartender took the big prize, $800, with his traditional hot toddy. Nick Miller in Sac News & Review.

Icing on your day: Local cupcake business opens new store - Icing on the Cupcake is once again a multi-store operation. The locally owned business has opened a new location in Folsom. The location at 2379 Iron Point Road puts the once-struggling cupcake chain back in expansion mode. Icing on the Cupcake still plans to add a midtown Sacramento store, which is expected to open in January. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Greek Food Imports - This new Greek deli and market is set to open in Arden-Arcade by the end of January. Owned by Sacramento-raised Kostas Panayotakopoulos, the rustic shop, which will be lined with dark wooden tables, will feature Greek-imported goods like Dodoni feta cheese and Attiki honey, with an emphasis on organic products. In Sactown Magazine. (Second item.)

Public House Theater re-opens, Tahoe Park neighbors celebrate - Talk about a dream deferred. After busting around getting the Public House Theater, the pub theater in Tahoe Park, open about a year ago, owner Jackie Nadile experienced some unfortunate news that her newly renovated venue wasn’t compliant to the Americans with Disabilities Act. The place was bopping when it was open. Neighbors found the local spot as a great hangout. But after inspections, Jackie was told she needed ADA parking and that the bar was not ADA compliant – that it needed to be rebuilt in order to make way for a lower ADA bar. “We had no trouble with our liquor license. It was all permits,” she said. Monica Stark in Valley Community Newspapers.

Dish to try: Spicy garlic shrimp at the Mandarin - Kay Lee brought the restaurant’s recipes with her from Taiwan, and continues to make the from-scratch sauces herself. We were there for one of the best dishes in town, “spicy garlic shrimp in wine sauce” ($18). The dish arrived – a bowl filled with crispy shrimp in a luscious not-too-sweet, not-to-hot sauce speckled with minced garlic. Whole garlic cloves sat on top. We spooned all of it onto mounds of steamed white rice and didn’t talk for awhile. Allen Pierleoni in the Sac Bee.

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Dining News: Railbridge Cellars Opening at Elks Tower Thanksgiving-ish

Railbridge cellarsRailbridge Cellars & Co., the latest venture by the family who owns RailBridge Cellars at 400 N. 16th Street, Strings Urban Kitchen at 7th & Q streets and the Railbridge tasting room at the penthouse of the Elks Tower, is scheduled to open in late November or early December, reports the Sac Bee's Bob Shallit.

The goal is to create a 1920s-era vibe, with vintage fixtures, exposed brick and antique marble.

“You’re going to walk in and think you took a step back in time,” said Michael Gelber, president of Alexis Ventures..

Perhaps the most arresting feature will be windows allowing diners to gaze down into what was once the Elks’ basement swimming “tank.” Over the past year, Gelber has converted that area into a lounge where groups gather for meals while seated in the former pool. “VIP” seating is available in two hot tubs that were added to the room in the 1960s...

Initial plans call for Monday-to-Friday hours, with a menu influenced by the Top of the Town restaurant that drew crowds to the Elks’ penthouse in the 1950s and 1960s.

Coffee and baked goods will be available in the morning, salads and sandwiches at lunch and small plates served until about 7 p.m. along with about 50 wines, many of them vintage varieties that harken back to an earlier time.

Read the entire story in the Sac Bee.

According to Sactown Magazine in July, the space was originally scheduled to open in early October.

When it opens Railbridge Cellars & Co. will be located at 11th & J streets, and can be found online at http://www.railbridgecellarsandcompany.com/.

More News:

Gina’s Filipino Kape - Last week, Gina’s Filipino Kape quietly opened on 12th Street in the space formerly inhabited by 1011 12th Espresso Bar. In Sactown Mag. (Fifth Item.)

Rethinking tipping, wages in Sacramento’s booming restaurant scene - There is plenty at stake as the Sacramento City Council prepares to vote Oct. 27 on a gradual minimum wage increase to $12.50 an hour over the next five years, well above the state-mandated $9 hourly wage. That worries many restaurant owners, and they’re supporting a controversial “carve-out” clause that exempts businesses from the wage hike if they can prove their workers take home at least $15 an hour with tips. The awkward and sometimes confounding issues of tipping, wages and restaurant profit margins have found their way into the spotlight, but depending on which side of the debate is talking, the city’s decision either could lead to minor tweaks for tipping or to a revamping of tipping as we know it. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

Not Enough Cooks in the Restaurant Kitchen - In the last year, though, the sound has become deafening. At conferences, over beers and on social media, chefs and restaurateurs are openly worrying (not to say complaining) about a crisis-level shortage of cooks. In scores of interviews via phone and email, chefs and restaurateurs confirmed that the shortage has affected their hiring. Julia Moskin in the New York Times.

Feast Q&A: Blackbird 3.0 throws pre-reopening party - Hammering out details with the insurance company delayed repairs, Lampkin said. But Blackbird will reopen, with a new bar and concrete floor, Dec. 1. But it’s cold in December. So on Friday, Oct. 23, when the weather likely still can accommodate it, Lampkin is throwing a second alley party, to reintroduce the restaurant. The event will carry a theme appropriate to a business that has been down a few rabbit holes. Carla Meyer in the Sac Bee.

Basically a milkshake: Harvey Milk Punch, The Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar - Popular since the 17th century, they usually comprise a mix of bourbon or brandy, milk and nutmeg. The Red Rabbit has a version called Harvey Milk Punch ($9) that includes Galliano liqueur as a nod to that '70s tipple, the Harvey Wallbanger. Ann Martin Rolke in Sac News & Review.

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Daily Dining News: Pour House to Open on Friday

Pour House, the new restaurant & bar replacing Whiskey Wild at 20th & Q streets, will hold its grand opening on Friday, Aug. 10th at 11 a.m.

The bar is best known for having taps at some of its booths, where patrons can pre pay for a number of pints of beer and they can pour them for themselves as needed.

The food at the restaurant is also notable because it will be provided by Coast to Coast Sandwiches, the second food truck to make the leap to a brick and mortar location.

Click here to read my preview of the food at Pour House. You can find them online at PourHouseSacramento.com.

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Buffalo Wild Wings Hiring For Natomas - All outward signs point to Buffalo Wild Wings coming to Natomas. On Friday, August 3 an Alcohol Beverage Control notice of intent to sell alcoholic beverages was posted on behalf of Buffalo Wild Wings at 3600 North Freeway Boulevard, Suite 100, in the Promenade shopping center. Brandy Tuzon Boyd on Natomas Buzz.

Rail Bridge Cellars launches jazz, blues series with intimate seating - The tasting room for Sacramento urban winery Rail Bridge Cellars is an intimate, two-level venue at the top of the Elks Tower – a spot managing partner Michael Gelber said is the highest place in the city where you can eat and drink – and it will begin hosting live blues and jazz Aug. 11. Brandon Darnell in Sac Press.

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Daily Dining News: Two Divergent Views on The Waterboy

Sac Mag's Kira O'Donnell's pallate and mine usually match up well. If she says a restaurant's good, then I generally like it too. But I have to disagree with her assessment of her recent trip to The Waterboy. Says O'Donnell:

The meal was superb – from the meatball-dotted Italian wedding soup and salt cod croquettes to the firm, moist swordfish, accompanied by roasted root vegetables and asparagus. At the end of the meal, her crusty, warm apple crostata arrived adorned with a birthday candle – a bright and cheery ending to a fabulous evening.

Read her entire review in Sac Mag.

I ate there on Monday night to celebrate our wedding anniversary, a return trip for me after a couple years and the first visit for my wife. We started with the sweetbreads ($14) - which were truly superb. For our entrees, we ordered the fish of the day, swordfish ($28) and the sea scallops ($25). The entrees were well executed, but not spectacular. We ended up spending about $135 for the two of us, including two drinks each, but for that kind of money, the meal should have been memorable and not just very good. To use a basketball analogy, I hoped for a Blake Griffin slam dunk, but I ended up with routine layup. I do want to point out that the service was excellent.

The Waterboy is clearly very successful judging by the fact that they had a full restaurant on a Monday night. Maybe I'm not their target audience, but my meal and experience this week reminds me why I hadn't returned sooner.

Previously: Waterboy owner Rick Mahan and Sac Bee restaurant reviewer Blair Anthony Robertson get in a kerfuffle over Waterboy review in the Sac Bee.

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Dining review: Thir13en could take a chance on greatness - You start off with an idea, a vision. You stake your claim, tell a story through your cooking and, if you want to keep the lights on, you adjust as the weeks turn into months. Sometimes you have to scale back, reconfigure and keep moving in order to remain relevant. But you don't have to sacrifice quality. If that sums up the concept behind Restaurant Thir13en, which opened last year at the Sterling Hotel with dreams of modernist cooking techniques and haute cuisine, it's because those early visions of culinary artistry have not been abandoned, only toned down. The restaurant and its concept are a work in progress. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

The Porch - The Porch appears to have gotten off to a rollicking start. The place is hopping. If you’ve got a hankering for Lowcountry roastedpeanut slaw, skillet cornbread or she-crab soup, it’s worth stopping by. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

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