The Porch

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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Daily Dining News: 8 Great New Places to Eat

Consistent readers of this blog will already be familiar with these suggestions, but I know not everyone reads every post. Sactown Mag's Rick Kushman and Kate Washington rounded up eight new places to eat in the Sacramento region including:

Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar:

That local emphasis is fitting—even the restaurant’s name was, yes, inspired by the arresting new sculpture at Sacramento’s airport; the partners liked the sound of it and their designers liked the look (the logo’s leaping red rabbit is reproduced in neon on the brick exterior)—because somehow the quickly opened, brand-new Red Rabbit feels like it’s been in Sacramento forever. Its partners are all longtime residents or natives (Nurge’s mom was a server for years at the late, lamented bar Joe Marty’s, and he says he grew up behind the bar there).

Red Rabbit fits our city well: It’s a little under the radar, not too full of itself, easy to like, and easy to hang out in. As Bays says, “We do our best to make people happy.”

Pork Belly Grub Shack:

What do you get when you put together two of Sacramento’s brashest and most inventive young chefs, a tattoo artist and a generous helping of pig parts and fried eggs?

Something very much like Natomas’s hot new lunch spot, Pork Belly Grub Shack, which opened in mid-December. There, a picnic vibe (think red-checked tablecloths and salvaged wood roof shingles) and all-you-can-meat fare (zingy Asian street tacos, fries topped with crispy pork belly, overstuffed burgers) liven up a formerly bland strip-mall location. The cool vibe comes thanks to the ministrations of chefs Billy Ngo of Kru and Aimal Formoli of Formoli’s Bistro, who own the place along with the latter’s wife Suzanne Ricci. She came up with the décor, which gets an assist from several quirky pieces of pig-themed art by Liz Miller of Relentless Tattoo Gallery (Formoli’s longtime tattoo artist).

Republic Bar & Grill, featuring Drewski's:

But the real draw is Blaskovich’s extended menu, which includes all the calorically reckless hits normally slung from his flame-emblazoned truck, such as rosemary-garlic tater tots, as well as some new Frankensteined food items that will set you back a few notches on the belt. In addition to inventive (and generous) salads, burgers, dogs and bar snacks, check out  the fried-chicken-and-waffle sandwich with a sweet and spicy maple dipping syrup or the “Tot-chos” (that’s tater tot nachos).

The Porch Bar & Restaurant:

The Porch opened last December and the result is an original cuisine for the Sacramento region, with homey mainstays like the slightly sweet, crispy cornbread and buttermilk fried chicken—a substantial plate with mashed potatoes, sausage gravy, soft collard greens, a flaky biscuit and chicken with a snappy black pepper crust and meat so juicy it’s almost thirst quenching. Then Clemons adds some twists. His luscious shrimp po’ boy sandwich includes avocado for a California imprint. The fried green tomatoes, which are delicate enough for any white-tablecloth institution, come with a nontraditional sidekick of mixed green salad with goat cheese and a red-pepper vinaigrette.

Also included were Mongo Mongo Mongolian BBQ, Monsoon Cuisine of India, Estelle's Patisserie and Selland's Market Cafe in El Dorado Hills.

Read the entire story in Sactown Magazine.

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The Eatery - And the packed house last Tuesday afternoon was proof that people are enjoying the food at The Eatery, an inconspicuous restaurant squished between other businesses in the West Sacramento shopping center, Town Center Plaza. West Sacramento is still developing its dining options, and The Eatery is one of the trailblazing restaurants serving food of a higher quality with local and seasonal in mind. That should be a given, considering that West Sacramento is home to some of the most fertile farm land on the West Coast. Milbourn, like a lot of Sacramento chefs and restaurants lately, has partnered directly with West Sacramento’s Humble Roots Organic Farm. Adam Saake in Submerge Mag.

Sacramento's Osaka-Ya maintains traditions of handmade sweets - As on most scorching summer afternoons, the crowds have headed to an aging stretch of 10th Street to an oasis of the cool and sweet. Here, at the edge of downtown, most of the surrounding shops are closed on this Sunday – but it's rush hour at Osaka-Ya. A bustling line forms in front of its take-out window, where folks wait in flip-flops and swim trunks to score snow cones – cherry, bubble gum, root beer and more – made from a Japanese shaved ice machine. Generations of Sacramentans have enjoyed these icy treats at Osaka-Ya, a mom-and-pop Japanese market that's approaching 50 years of ownership by the Nakatani family. But the heart of its business goes beyond the snow cone take-out window. Step inside this small shop, and you'll find colorful rows of freshly made mochi and manju. Chris Macias in the Sac Bee.

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Daily Dining News: 'Awe-inspiring pies' at Masullo in Land Park


Sacramento has its share of terrific Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizza. Hot Italian, One Speed and Pizza Rock are all excellent, but Sac Bee restaurant critic Blair Anthony Robertson may have just found the best artisan thin crust pizza in Sacramento.

One night a few years back, everything seemed perfect – the dough looked and felt perfect, the timing of the orders was perfect, the vibe in the room was just so – and Masullo knew he was making pizza at its highest level. He wrote on the Masullo Facebook page, "See Naples and die." Translation: It doesn't get any better than this.

That's not hype or braggadocio. We dropped by on several occasions recently to work our way through the assortment of pizzas on the menu, some with sauce, some without. We came away with a simple answer to explain this kind of greatness: Though there is certainly magic, there are no tricks.

At Masullo, it is all about time-honored techniques, old-fashioned values, quality ingredients, attention to detail, high standards and hard work.

The pizzas were so good, the flavors and textures so enthralling – from the crust to the sauce to the little cubes of premium bacon or the medallions of spicy sausage – I can recall the experience weeks later as if I had just polished off a slice moments ago.

I LOVE Masullo. I live in the neighborhood, and it's a real luxury to be able to grab a great pizza for a casual dinner. They also employ my favorite waiter in Sacramento - Andrea. His enthusiam, Italian accent and excellent service really make every meal at Masullo a special experience.

Read the entire review in the Sac Bee.

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Squeeze Inn decides to add food truck - Add the Squeeze Inn as the latest brick-and-mortar restaurant to launch a food truck. The much heralded local burger franchise, which was once featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," has gone mobile. The Squeeze Inn truck, an extension of the eatery's Power Inn location, is operated by Ken Bourquin, a former Squeeze Inn employee. He was given the blessing to run the truck from restaurant owner Travis Hausauer, and started rolling about two weeks ago. Chris Macias in the Sac Bee.

Tour de Sacramento - The Tour de France is one of summer’s great sporting spectacles, so we thought it only fitting to pay homage to the event with our own (very modest) two-wheel expedition. Unlike the elite cycling event, however, this leisurely pub ride is all about soaking up the sights and the suds along the way. To that end, we mapped out a pedal-friendly midtown loop where the patios are urban oases and the peoplewatching doesn’t disappoint. Featuring Rubicon Brewing Company, Bows & Arrows, Magpie Cafe & Firestone Public House. Catherine Warmerdam in Sac Mag.

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Daily Dining News: Squeeze Inn Adds Food Truck

If you can't make it to any of Squeeze Inn's brick and mortar location, the Squeeze Inn truck may be coming to you soon, reports Brandon Darnell in Sac Press.

One deviation is that there are currently no french fries being served on the truck, as the fryer can’t keep up with the demand, so chips are served instead, though he said he is looking to rectify the situation, and possible serve onion rings...

Don’t expect to see the truck running around Midtown and downtown Sacramento right away, however.

“We’re taking baby steps,” Bourquin said. “Mainly, right now, we’re doing a lot of fundraising and community events. We’re focusing on giving back to the community and not driving around on a route.”

That could change after a while, and Bourquin said his eventual goal is to serve food from the truck to people who can’t make it to a brick-and-mortar location on their lunch breaks.

Read the entire story in Sac Press. The Squeeze Inn truck can be found on Twitter, @SqueezeInnTruck.

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Tuli Bistro: Go for the Pizza - I’ve always been a fan of Tuli Bistro, an unassuming and friendly neighborhood eatery that consistently plates up delicious, seasonally-appropriate fare. And while Tuli’s kitchen has a real talent with seafood and pasta dishes, I think its pizzas are the best thing on the menu. Kira O'Donnell in Sac Mag.

Best Thing I Put in My Mouth Last Week- Duck McMuffin: The Porch - The duck McMuffin is basically eggs benedict but with duck confit and greens in place of the socialist bacon. Amazing. Creole hollandaise topping the whole thing and a random piece of bacon thrown in for good measure (hey, this is The Porch after all). Side of potatoes, perfectly toothy and just ready to sop up the leftover sauce and yolks. And since it was brunch I felt perfectly fine washing the whole thing down with a pint of Monkey Knife Fight. On The Sac Rag.

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Daily Dining News: 'Plenty to Like' at The Porch, but 'Simply Too Expensive'


I ate at The Porch when the initially opened in Dec. 2011, and found that while it wasn't perfect, it was off to a great start. Six months later and many meals later, Sac Bee restaurant critic Blair Anthony Robertson gives his review.

When it opened six months ago, the Porch Restaurant and Bar came out of nowhere to feature Southern cooking – dishes like fried catfish, shrimp and grits, corn bread and fried green tomatoes – with enough West Coast twists for the concept to make sense in midtown Sacramento.

One of those twists, apparently, was the top-notch sourcing of ingredients, listed in detail on the restaurant's website. Sustainable, organic, high-end. It's all very impressive, ambitious and – goodness gracious – expensive.

When the check comes, even if you gladly cleaned your plate, you're likely to get as mad as a mule chewing on bumblebees.

Assessing The Porch and giving it an overall star rating is an exercise in feeling conflicted. There is plenty to like. The restaurant has a lot of potential, a good chef and a menu unlike any other in the city.

But it simply doesn't add up. For what you get, what you expect, what you hoped it would be, The Porch is simply too expensive. Cut the prices by 30 percent, and then let's talk.

Read the entire review in the Sac Bee. (Flashback - here's Robertson's first impression of The Porch from January 2012.)

Click here for The Porch's happy hour info.

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SacTown Dining Collective forms, will host kick-off dinner - Here's something most local chefs can agree on: the talent pool for Sacramento chefs runs deep, and the area deserves a better reputation given its quality restaurants and access to world-class produce. The SacTown Dining Collective was born with this idea of rallying local chefs to better promote this town, but behind the scenes, it's been more like the SacTown Herding Cats Collective. What exactly will this collective do? Who will represent the group in front of media, and what's its agreed upon message? And who's up for meeting at 9 a.m. on a Monday morning to figure all this out? Chris Macias in the Sac Bee.

A talented chef lands job on the farm - Mike Ward, who recently left his job as chef de cuisine at Lounge ON20, didn't stay unemployed for long. He just accepted a job at Feeding Crane Farms. It's a newly created position called culinary development manager, and given Ward's background in the kitchen along with his interest in organic farming and green living, it seems tailor-made for him.I recently wrote about this promising new farm and actually interviewed Ward, who was then a customer. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

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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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Daily Dining News: 'Good Points Trump Demerits' at The Porch


Since I first gave my Instant Reaction of The Porch back in mid-December, the menu's gone through some fine tuning. Sac News & Review's Greg Lucas takes a look at the where they are today.

In the main, the most enjoyable selections are salads or seafood sandwiches or entrees. Slaw on the barbecue pork sandwich elevates its status, and its pickled vegetables are sweet and tart, adding an additional dimension. The shrimp and grits dish, while laden with cheddar and gravy, is a synergistic mélange—perhaps The Porch’s trademark dish. Also in the running is the purloo, the low country’s version of jambalaya, with andouille, crunchy crawfish appendages, and the same sautéed bell peppers and onions that also appear in the grits.

The sandwiches don’t hold together so well. The shrimp po’ boy quickly becomes a knife-and-fork affair.

Read the entire review in Sac News & Review.

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Monte Carlo, Sacramento's second-oldest bar, changing hand - Sacramento's second-oldest bar is changing hands after 75 years of ownership by the same family. The Monte Carlo Club at 15th and S streets is in escrow to be sold to owners of the Pine Cove Tavern, confirms Monte Carlo owner Ed Guastalli. Bob Shallit in the Sac Bee.

River City Brewing Co. getting ready for spring - River City Brewing Company, located in Westfield Downtown Plaza, is gearing up for spring with two seasonal beers debuting May 1 and the barbecue on the patio set to return April 14, weather permitting. “Our head chef will be out there barbecuing oysters on the half shell, chicken and shrimp, and sometimes artichokes,” said General Manager and co-owner Beth Ayres, 35. Brandon Darnell in Sac Press.

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