“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.
Mighty Tavern purchased a whole pig from Bledsoe for Farm to Fork Restaurant Week. Azevedo turned some of that pork into three types charcuterie ($13): creamy pork belly rillettes spread on buttery toast; meaty pate studded with pistachios; and boudin blanc, a sausage with full flavor and little spice. Azevedo also sent out a slice of ham, cured in local Barsotti apple cider and cold-smoked. It was sweet, smoky and tender.
Bledsoe pork is also featured in a schnitzel entree ($18) with Delta endive and heirloom tomatoes from the biodynamic farm operated by nearby Waldorf School.
Waldorf School Farm’s Little Gem lettuce, radicchio and arugula alone would have made a fine salad, but Mighty Tavern added the farm’s Greengage plums and cow’s milk fromage blanc from Orland Farmstead Creamery, and dressed it all in muscatel vinaigrette. One amazing ingredient wasn’t local — preserved Armenian walnuts — but who cares? Soaked in syrup they were like candy, rounding out one sweet salad ($8.50).
The rest of Mighty Tavern’s Farm to Fork Restaurant Week menu is chock-full of local ingredients: Azolla Farms’ eggplant and summer squash star in ratatouille ($15). Passmore Ranch sturgeon, Grimaud Farms duck (whose fat cooked the pork belly in the pork ‘n’ beans), and blue cheese from Shaft’s, a Rocklin cheesemaker, round out the local purveyors.
Mighty Tavern occupies what until recently was La Boheme, Sacramento’s last Continental restaurant. La Boheme’s pink walls and pink brocade upholstered furniture are gone but the dining room still retains a feeling of formality — white tablecloths, rich woodwork — even though the American bistro menu is accessible and affordably priced. Located on Fair Oaks Boulevard about two blocks west of Sunrise Avenue, Mighty Tavern is easily accessible from business centers in Gold River and Rancho Cordova.
Farm to Fork Restaurant Week is sponsored by the Sacramento chapter of the California Restaurant Association in conjunction with the Sacramento region’s Farm to Fork Capital of America celebration.