Eat like a farm-to-fork King at Sleep Train concessions

Monday night I tasted and reported on the Kings’ new luxury suite farm-to-fork buffet.  Now here’s some news today on the Kings’ concession-stand farm-to-fork food upgrades for the 2013-2014 season, which opens Oct. 30 at Sleep Train Arena:

K Street Deli is a new concession on the south side of Sleep Train, featuring Niman Ranch slow-roasted porchetta sandwiches and Mary’s Organics’ roasted chicken sandwiches, on artisan ciabatta rolls, with a side of County Line Farms’ mustard green salad. Also: Full Belly Farms wheat berry salad with red Russian kale, roasted squash, roasted pecans, goat cheese and organic honey-curry vinaigrette. Dessert:  Marchini Farms heirloom apple cobbler, and satsuma tangerine tiramisu.

Capital Cut Carvery will be on the east and west sides of the arena, serving Dietsel Farms roasted turkey sandwiches and Harris Ranch tri-tip beef sandwiches on sourdough baguettes with herb aioli or stout mustard sauce. Chop salad features Capay Farms’ baby iceberg, boiled cage free egg, tomatoes, red onion, Niman Ranch slab bacon tossed with Point Reyes creamy blue cheese dressing.  Sides include Full Belly Farms’ yellow finn potato salad;and roasted cauliflower salad with wilted kale, dried cherries, lemon yogurt dressing, candied pumpkin and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Smoque House BBQ will be on the north side of the arena, featuring Niman Ranch pulled pork sandwiches and Dietsel Farms pulled turkey sandwiches on onion rolls, topped with horseradish slaw with choice of sweet, spicy or mustard sauces.  Sides include smokey mac and cheese, and bourbon-baked beans.

For dessert, look for The Sweet Shop, which will scoop local ice cream from Leatherbys.

There’s also a new craft beer menu to wash it all down. Local breweries include Rubicon and American River.

I’ve organized a food tasting and craft beer pairing panel, featuring myself, Hops to Table publisher John Zervas and Mike Moore, Sacramento’s nationally recognized beer judge. Next week we’ll sample the new menus and make our recommendations.

Dos Coyotes stalks downtown

Dos diners at Dos Coyotes

I was fishing for dish when I asked Bobby Coyote what he thought of downtown Sacramento. The owner of Dos Coyotes Border Cafe instead gave me a nugget of news: he’ll open the seventh location of his Davis-based string of fast-casual Mexican-style restaurants in downtown.

Coyote said Dos Coyotes will be one of the tenants in a project currently under construction at 15th and R streets in what used to be the building that housed the state Department of Personnel Administration, Benefits Division.

While there are currently 26 places to get Mexican food in and around downtown and Midtown, there’s always room for another restaurant that aims to use local ingredients whenever it can.

I recently dined at Dos Coyotes at Arden Fair Mall.  It was my first visit and I was impressed at how a fast-casual restaurant sources some ingredients locally, offers big portions and keeps its prices affordable for budget-minded diners.  There’s a real chef at the helm — Marke Casale, who in the ’90s cheffed with the likes of Randall Selland and Patrick Mulvaney at Cafe Donatello.

Coyote told me he and Casale are planning to roll out a guest-chef promotion in which select Sacramento chefs will create specials that will be served at all Dos Coyotes locations — Davis, Roseville, Folsom, Elk Grove and Sacramento.

Press Club finds new home at Dawson’s

The Sacramento Press Club has a new luncheon home: Dawson’s, the dinner-only restaurant inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

The Press Club lost its lunch location when The Broiler abruptly closed last month.

The Press club will hold its first lunch event at Dawson’s on Wednesday. The topic: The Future of Journalism – New Models for Newsrooms.

Read my review of Dawson’s, which I wrote for

Farm-to-Fork Restaurant Week in Review

Sac Biz Lunch debuts today in the Sacramento Business Journal with my wrap-up of Sacramento Farm-to-Fork Restaurant Week.

Look for my column three days a week in the Business Journal. I’ll archive those posts here at the end of each week.

Here’s my narrated slideshow of what I ate during Sacramento Farm-to-Fork Restaurant Week.

Read all of my Sacramento Farm-to-Fork Restaurant Week coverage here.

Michelin chef co-stars at Grange

Thanks to chefs who want to show off their city and the farm-fresh produce, grains, meat and fish that surround us in the Farm to Fork Capital of America, Sacramento diners no longer have to drive to culinary temples in Napa and San Francisco to enjoy the work of Michelin-starred chefs.

Those chefs are now coming to Sacramento — as much for the raw ingredients we grow as for the customers hungry for a taste of fine-dining at a level previously reserved for out-of-town trips.

At Enotria, the Sacramento restaurant that’s clearly wishing upon a star from the grand dame of dining guides, Michelin-starred chefs are starring in monthly dinners.

Tonight at Passmore Ranch, the sustainable fish farm in Sloughouse, Michelin-starred chef Craig Kostow of Meadowwood in St. Helena is helming a $400-per-person fund-raising dinner.

Last night, chef Mark Dommen of San Francisco’s One Market visited Sacramento, teaming up with chef Oliver Ridgeway of Grange Restaurant on a five-course dinner for Farm to Fork Restaurant Week that showcased the food of five Sacramento-area farmers, one farmer per course — with everything in each dish grown, raised and harvested by the farmers Dommen and Ridgeway honored.

At $75 per person, it was provocative and delicious.

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House hits home on farm-to-fork range

Squash Napoleon

Stuffed chicken breast

The cattle and cowboys that circled Capitol Mall on Monday stood out in the steel-and-glass valley that leads from Tower Bridge to the state Capitol. And in its own way, so does House Kitchen & Bar, a glass box of a restaurant attached to perhaps the most prestigious address on this boulevard of government and finance, 555 Capitol Mall.

Today was my first visit to House. Frankly, I didn’t expect the restaurant to be so homey. I’d arrived for a taste of chef Chris Nestor’s Farm to Fork Restaurant Week menu and left knowing, for sure, I’ll be back for one of  House’s French dip sandwiches I’ve been hearing about.

House’s Farm to Fork Restaurant Week special is a $25 prix fixe three-course meal. The starter and dessert are set, but you get your choice of entrees.  Nestor graciously sent me the works.

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Mighty Tavern is mighty farm-to-forky

Pork ‘n’ beans

Fair Oaks salad

“We’re not a farm-to-fork restaurant,” sous chef Jason Azevedo told me when I visited Mighty Tavern yesterday for a taste of the six-month-old Fair Oaks restaurant’s Farm to Fork Restaurant Week menu.

A few minutes later, Azevedo delivered three dishes that screamed “farm to fork,” including a plate of pork ‘n’ beans that he called a “one pig, one farm” entree.

That one pig came from John Bledsoe, whose Dixon pigs are farmers market and finer-dining darlings. The marrowfat beans and red Swiss chard came from Azolla Farm in East Nicolas. All together, there were about 80 food miles in those pork ‘n’ beans — plus miles of deliciousness.

Mighty Tavern’s pork ‘n’ beans are not merely an ironic $22 dinner entree. This was a composed dish. The pork belly was confited — poached in duck fat with cinnamon, juniper and clove for extra-rich flavor and deep, glistening texture. The marrrowfat beans were tender and meaty, like plump pintos. Molasses sweetened and thickened the beans and mellowed the greens.

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Mulvaney’s top-ranked in Midtown

The Sacramento Business Journal ranks the top 35 Midtown restaurants today. The winner, based on rankings from three online rating services — Yelp, Urbanspoon and TripAdvisor — is Mulvaney’s B&L.

You can read the rankings here.

Here are two dishes I enjoyed for lunch recently at Mulvaney’s, as the season and flavors turned toward fall.

Fettuccine and fennel lamb sausage Peach cobbler with sweet corn ice cream and peach caramel

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High on F2F dog at Low Brau

Low Brau’s F2F BLT Dog

I snacked on a sausage sandwich at Low Brau last night. It was one locally delicious dog.

Low Brau’s F2F BLT Dog is the beer hall-sausage parlor’s special salute to Sacramento Farm to Fork Restaurant Week, which is sponsored by the Sacramento chapter of the California Restaurant Association in conjunction with the Sacramento region’s  celebration of its agricultural and culinary bounty.

The F2F BLT Dog costs $8.50, a pricey snack to be sure, but consider its contents:

  • Italian sausage from Preferred Meats, a family-owned Oakland specializing in heritage breeds of pigs and cows;
  • Ray Yeung Farms’ West Sacramento heirloom tomatoes;
  • applewood-smoked bacon from Smokey Ridge, an artisan charcuterie producer on  Hill;
  • and Bibb lettuce from Azola Farm in East Nicolaus.

All on a Freeport Bakery roll with character — soft in the middle, a bit sturdier outside, making you work a little for each bite while holding the dog’s contents intact.

For my tastes, the red, green and yellow tomatoes that topped the dog were chopped too big. I had to tuck and smash them between the sausage and the roll. But a small matter. Chewing on the kitchen’s knife skills gave me time to think about Ray Yeung’s heirloom tomatoes. I enjoyed them in a salad at Hook & Ladder on Monday and I’ve seen them on many Sacramento restaurant menus this season.

When I Googled and found the farmer’s picture, I realized I know Ray Yeung, not just his West Sacramento tomatoes. I worked with Ray Yeung’s wife on the sports desk at the Sacramento Bee a lifetime ago.

It’s a small Farm to Fork Capital of America, after all.


Hook & Ladder will farm-to-fork hook you

Brian Mizner’s four-course $40 prix fixe dinner menu for Sacramento Farm to Fork Restauran Week changes daily. So the meal I enjoyed Monday at Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Company may not be the meal you enjoy tonight or any night through Sunday.

But based on every Mizner dish I’ve tasted since December — including a fantastic vegan chocolate chili and mmm, mmm good mole pizza with squash and pumpkin seeds for a Farm to Fork event at Sutter’s Fort Saturday night — I’m pretty sure you’ll have a very good meal.

Mizner’s menu is not just a Farm to Fork Restaurant Week promotion — sponsored by the Sacramento chapter of the California Restaurant Association in conjunction with the region’s Farm to Fork Capital of America celebration — it’s also a salute to farmers. His $40 prix fixe specials this week are billed as the Farmers Appreciation Dinner.

So dinner will cost just $20 this week if you are a farmer or a grower. Mizner said Hook & Ladder will accept business cards, pay stubs, samples, dirty hands and dirty work boots as proof.

Here’s proof of a meal I enjoyed:

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Broderick’s Locals Only Burger Is Local All the Way

Broderick Restaurant and Bar is offering just one special as part of Farm to Fork Restaurant Week . While many of the three-dozen-plus restaurants participating in the event are offering multicourse prix fixe meals, Broderick is keeping it simple while keeping it local. Very local.

The ingredient list for Broderick’s Locals Only Burger reads like this:

  • Grass-fed beef from Lucky Dog Ranch in Dixon
  • Smoked Jack cheese from Sierra Nevada Cheese Company in Willows
  • Oyster mushrooms from Dragon Gourmet in Sacramento
  • Onions from Moon River Farm in Sacramento
  • Kaiser roll from Village Bakery in Davis
  • Smoked black pepper from Whole Spice in Petaulma
  • Made-in-house spicy steak sauce

Broderick’s Locals Only Burger

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Ten22 is backyard local

In farm-to-fork terms, you can’t get any more local than a chef’s backyard.

At Ten22, “chef’s backyard” is a regular source of ingredients. Chef Jay Veregge brings to work what he grows at home. What he doesn’t grow in his backyard garden he picks up from neighbors — farmers and regular gardeners — on his drive to work from the Delta to Old Sacramento.

Ten22 is among three dozen restaurants participating in Farm to Fork Restaurant Week , sponsored by the Sacramento chapter of the California Restaurant Association as part of the Sacramento region’s events celebrating the Farm to Fork Capital of America.

For its part, Ten22 is offering a $25 three-course prix fixe menu. I had a taste this weekend. Continue reading

Corn smut seduces at Mayahuel

Salmon with huitlacoche sauce

When I learned huitlacoche was on chef Jorge Omar Juarez’s Farm to Fork Restaurant Week  menu at Mayahuel, I skipped lunch and ate dinner early. Friday was the first day of the 10-day event sponsored by the Sacramento chapter of the California Restaurant Association, coinciding with the Sacramento region’s celebration of its role as the Farm to Fork Capital of America.

It was my first taste of huitlacoche — aka corn smut — in an upscale restaurant. Previously, I’ve enjoyed huitlacoche the down-home way — spread in tortillas, folded in tacos, melted in quesadillas. You savor huitlacoche for its ethereal, mushroomy essence — sweet corn meets ripe crimini. You savor huitlacoche despite its ugliness — a moist black fungus that invades ears of corn in the fall.

In culinary terms, huitlacoche is a delicacy, prized by field hands and trained chefs alike. It’s the Mexican truffle.

In agricultural terms, huitlacoche is a pesky byproduct. Most sweet corn and grain farmers in America would rather eradicate the fungus. Those farmers who know what huitlacoche is worth don’t have enough to meet demand.

So I can understand why the huitlacoche that stars in the seductive sauce beneath a salmon filet in one of Mayahuel’s Farm to Fork Restaurant Week specials came from Mexico and not one of our local farms here in America’s Farm to Fork Capital.

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Local flavors, low farm-to-fork prices, at Dos Coyotes

Forty Sacramento-area restaurants are participating in the city’s Farm to Fork celebration. Beginning today through Sept. 29, restaurants are offering special menus that showcase the region’s agricultural bounty at its peak.

Farm to Fork Restaurant Week is sponsored by the Sacramento chapter of the California Restaurant Association. This week, I’ll be dining at participating restaurants and offering my recommendations.

First up, Dos Coyotes Border Cafe.

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Why The Broiler tanked

The Broiler’s owner, Larry Lords. Photo: Sacramento Business Journal.

Larry Lords, owner of The Broiler since 1995, has been screening calls and told Allen Pierleoni today that the Bee food writer is the “only one I’m going to discuss this with, and then that’s the end of the story.”

So here’s the story of the 63-year-old steakhouse’s closure this week (along with Lords’ Gallaghter’s sports bar), in short:

Lords fell behind on rent payments,  tax liens stacked up, the business sunk into Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Lords is selling his house and moving to Oregon.

On Tuesday, Lords paid off his staff in cash.

A sp0keswoman for The Broiler’s landlord, The California Dental Association, said,  ”We have no further details.”


Broiler closure prompts Press Club cancellation

This weekend’s closure of The Broiler has prompted the Sacramento Press Club to cancel its next monthly luncheon, scheduled for Sept. 12.

The Broiler had been catering the Press Club’s events in the 18th-floor dining room of  K Street’s Ban Roll-on building.

A message from Press Club president Brian Joseph hit the social media wire this evening.

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Getting fries with that, and getting it right

Papas Burrito @ Taqueria Jalisco

Despite Burger King jumping on the fries-in-the-burger thing, it’s not really a trend, because people around the world since, like, forever, have been fortifying meat with potatoes.

Take the Papas Burrito from Taqueria Jalisco on 16th Street. It’ s got carne asada and papas — or potatoes, in this case french fries, fried crisp so there’s a hidden crunchy bite within the burrito.

Nicely done.

I’ve averaged about one Papas Burrito a week this summer.

The Miss Saigon is Wicked Wich‘s take on the Vietnamese banhi mi — roasted pork topped with sweet marinated daikon radish and carrots, along with a fistful of fries.

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K St. loses and wins: Broiler closes, Thiemann returns

Photo by Kurt Hegre.

Michael Thiemann

There’s big restaurant news on K Street today:

One of downtown Sacramento’s last old-school seats of power lunching has closed.


One of  Sacramento’s most talented and soundly liked young chefs is returning to his hometown, to open two restaurants on K Street.

News spread this morning that The Broiler closed some time over Labor Day weekend. The 63-year-old steakhouse had occupied the ground floor of the “Ban Roll-on Building” at 1201 K Street since 1999. Neither the Sacramento Business Journal nor the Sacramento Bee could reach owner Larry Lords for comment.

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Adios, Patties — Hello, Sam’s?

Photo: Sacramento Business Journal

Just past noon today, bottles of booze covered the bar and chairs sat upturned on tables. It was closing time at Hamburger Patties, a restaurant that, for me, was but a placeholder between past and future where downtown and Midtown meet.

I never ate at Hamburger Patties, or, before that, Hamburger Mary’s, the burger bar that originally opened at 17th and J streets in 1994.

I lived outside of Sacramento from 1996 to 2011. So I bear no nostalgia for bygone burgers. After reading reports in the Business Journal and the Bee in which Hamburger Patties’ owner seems to contradict his reasons for closing — Was it a landlord lease issue or lack of business? — I’m more cynical than sympathetic.

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Hip, little hurrah, at Tank House

Brisket, greens, hot link at Tank House BBQ and Bar.

Journalists are often accused of agendas and bias. I had an agenda this week when I checked out Tank House, a new bar and barbecue joint in Midtown.

My agenda: Eat barbecue for lunch without staining a brand-new white dress shirt.

One trick is to lean over the table, like you do when eating tacos. The other trick is to eat Texas-style barbecue, where sauce takes a back seat to meat.

Do I have a barbecue bias? You betcha, and I’ll state mine right here: I prefer saucy barbecue — slathered up and dripping, a danger to diabetics and white shirts alike.

See, sauce is not a condiment. Sauce is a complement and a contrast to barbecue — tangy against smoky, vinegary against sweet, hot and sticky in harmony with crusty and fatty.With that said, let’s get down to lunch and a first taste of Tank House BBQ and Bar, which opened  one week ago at 1925 J St.
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Press Club lunch arena debate

There was a lot to chew on at the Sacramento Press Club’s luncheon today, featuring a debate between the forces trying to build an arena in downtown Sacramento and the foes who are trying to force a vote and stop the arena drive. As a downtown Sacramento resident who hungers for the housing, restaurants and grocery stores I’m hoping arena development will spur, I attended out of civic interest and for lunch. My take-away on the debate: The anti-arena guys did not articulate their case clearly enough, often stumbling over pronunciation of words your average fifth-grader knows and doing their best to avoid answering the most basic and pressing question: Will the anti-arena guys use the signatures gathered beneath the black cloud of Steve Hansen’s tainted money?

My hope for Harv’s

There’s a for-lease sign outside Harv’s Metro Car Wash on the corner of L and 19th streets in Midtown.  Not for the car wash but for the retail space inside.

That’s got me hoping for a return of the diner that used to occupy what’s now a basically a Hallmark store for people having their cars washed.

Sure, a restaurateur would need to install kitchen infrastructure, but if you keep it simple — locally sourced sandwiches, soups and salads (nothing more difficult than what a food truck can handle), for dine-in or packaged neatly to-go for folks who’ve just had their cars washed and detailed — it would be a great addition to the neighborhood.

If Sacramento can have a farm-to-fork sports bar, it can surely support a farm-to-fork car wash.

You do know there was once a restaurant inside Harv’s, don’t you? Here’s the review I wrote for the Sacramento Bee in 1993.

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Scott Ostrander cooks for his life

At age 30, Scott Ostrander has had his share of hard-luck sagas — about equal to the number of jobs he’s had in the past year. Connect the dots on Ostrander’s personal history and peripatetic resume – waiter-turned-pizza cook at Café Bernardo; opening chef at Restaurant Thir13en and Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar; chef de partie at Alinea, a Michelin 3-star restaurant in Chicago; and now executive sous chef at Esquire Grill — and a portrait emerges of a young chef struggling through life and savoring the education.

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