Cosmo Doesn’t Reach The Stars, But Still Makes For A Pleasant Night


It was Friday the 13th – never a day to expect things to run smoothly. My mission: reservations for a group of 10, 8 of them high school students, at a nicer restaurant within walking distance of the convention center and Capitol, limited to a two-hour time frame, and a $30 per person budget.  Awesome, right? Do high school students even appreciate a nicer restaurant? Well, they would on my watch. These kids were part of a program designed to teach them about government, civic responsibility, and being a grown-up. That last part means learning how to comport yourself at a business dinner and expanding your culinary horizons.  After checking with my favorite local restaurants (“I know 7pm on a Friday is primetime for your restaurant, but could you seat us and work with us on a fixed price menu? No? Okay, thanks” – went the script with Waterboy, Mulvaney’s, and Grange), I turned to the Randy Paragary Sacramento Empire of California Fusion Restaurants And Dining Experiences. Again.   It’s not that I dislike Paragary’s offerings – but I was worried Cosmo Cafe wouldn’t prove much different than last year’s Esquire Grill fare.  Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised

Cosmo Cafe offers . . . okay, look, it offers the same kind of food as most PRG establishments, so don’t make me make something up or quote their descriptions – deal?  Nested on the bottom floor of the new Cosmopolitan whatever on 10th and K, the ambiance is a modern interpretation of a 30s era New York steakhouse and/or diner of sorts.  Don  your best Draper suit and you’ll fit right in, Ms. Holloway escort optional.

The menu is classic-yet-edgy – aren’t they all – and features a good range of options for picky or curious eaters (I’ll let you guess into which category 80% of our group fell).  I splashed out with the New York steak – a generous cut served with a generous portion of fries, for a (from me) generous $30.  It was good, but a bit large and though steak-and-fries is traditional, I wouldn’t have turned down an actual vegetable (some wilted spinach maybe?) or a bit of something extra on the plate.  My husband chose the Niman Ranch pork primarily because it came with parsnips which he, arguably, loves more than he loves me. No complaints from him on the dish.   The corned beef earned the highest level of praise from the student who ordered it and the three others who pounced on it to sample – it was so tender and perfect, it needed only a fork to divide it between hungry high-schoolers.

If you remember nothing else from this review, however, remember to save room for dessert.  The warm chocolate bread pudding was so plush and delicious I wasn’t sure whether to eat it or try to curl up and sleep in it (hey, you watch 8 high schoolers for five days and see how many extra things start to look like a good place to nap).  It was firm in the right places, gushed chocolate in the right places, and was just the right size and temperature.  The cheesecake was lighter and more vanilla-flavored than what you find at most places – big enough to share but not as deadly rich as you’d get from, say, a Factory of such things.  The apple and pecan crisp was also roundly celebrated as having all the parts a desert should have: crisp, sweet, warm, and cold, in one pot.

Where Cosmo Cafe earned a devoted fan, however, was in its service.  Bless our waitress who dealt with the sometimes unsophisticated demands of our group.  She put up with a lot. We weren’t bad and we weren’t loud, but we weren’t necessarily the most efficient or easily pleased lot in the place.  She was endlessly cheerful and supportive, however, making sure she checked up on the kids who had ordered more adventurous items to see whether they felt as adventurous eating the dishes as they had ordering them.  That, ladies and gentlemen, makes for a great dining experience.

Bottom line: it’s better than Esquire Grill and more important to downtown’s economic health than the PRG places in midtown which have a more readily available clientele.  K Street needs Cosmo Cafe to be a huge hit. It needs the cabaret to be such a huge hit that Cosmo can’t support all the would-be diners and such overflow encourages more investment along the street.  Cosmo Cafe may not be where I would take out-of-town guests (I’d still hit Waterboy, Mulvaney’s, Moxie, or Ella, first), but it’s a worthy new entry for Grid Eaters to enjoy.

2 Comments so far

  1. Eric (sac_eric) on February 19th, 2009 @ 8:12 pm

    So *you* were partially responsible for all that acne-in-a-suit that was wandering around the mall on Friday? I was wondering what that was all about.

  2. cd (cndn) on February 20th, 2009 @ 9:43 am

    Acne-in-a-suit? Ouch!

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