Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Shady Lady, Some Visible Values

This will be one of my few visual aid-free restaurant reviews, but oh well: Had a chance to check out the new Shady Lady Saloon at 14th and R.  Their “thing” is twofold: first, no TVs!  Second, they do old skool – like way old – cocktails.  The lack of TVs could explain the light crowd on Sunday night given that we were there smack in the middle of the NBA championship game.  The cocktails, however, did not disappoint.  I enjoyed a Pim’s Cup – just the way I would in England, cool and full of crisp cucumber and fragrant herbs.  Cocktails are all around the $8 mark which makes them very close in price to the menu items.

I would recommend the tomato soup at $5.   I didn’t get details on it, but I would guess it was free of cream even though it had the traditional creamy texture (vegans or lactose intolerant diners should check, of course).  Bonus for being garnished with a grilled cheese sandwhich (no really).  My husband and I shared the soup and each ordered the Cobb Salad.  At $7.50 it was a relatively good salad value, with it’s pleasing straight lines of ingredients and ample bowl size making mixing easier and less messy.  I was surprised, however to find the dish remarkably bland.   That sounds harsh – but it did lack any real flair.  I wouldn’t call it bad, though.  I originally asked for my salad with dressing on the side but was persuaded to go for it as-is by the server who said it was better tossed and was dressed with a light hand anyway. Maybe too light, in this case.

The venue also hosts regular live music acts in the spacious, warehouse/saloon-chic interior.  I love live music, but I wondered why both acts on Sunday felt the need to use all available amplification when the wide, hardly-full room probably could’ve experienced their sound just fine without any electronic help whatsoever.  Translation:   it was LOUD – too loud to engage in much meaningful conversation among our table of seven for very long.  Maybe they could turn it down a wee bit during the dinner hour?  Then everyone could enjoy both food and entertainment without sacrificing good companionship along the way.

Lastly: the hunt for a good burger in the new R Street complex continues, according to my friend who gave the Shady Lady burger a tepid so-so review.  I told her not to rely on Burgers and Brew either – unremarkable, especially when there is better in town.

Big Hearts, Big Pies

Love Pizza? There’s a fantastic way to indulge in your love all things pie and help a great cause.

The new California Pizza Kitchen at 16th and K is donating today’s sales to the wonderful people behind the magic at Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Check out the press release:

Following CPK’s tradition of giving back to the communities in which it operates, the new CPK restaurant will donate 100% of all dine-in pizza sales during regular business hours on Tuesday, May 26, 2009, to the Sacramento chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

By the way, I’m a sucker for the Thai Chicken Pizza at CPK. Mozzarella cheese and a spicy peanut sauce add up to a delightful, tangy flavor combination. Who knew?

What’s your favorite?

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 (more…)

Local gifts at a big box store? Who knew.

While making an infrequent bulk-supply run at Costco the other day, I was surprised to see for sale gift cards for the Paragary Restaurant Group – that’s places like Paragary’s, Spataro, Esquire, and R15.  The cards, sold in packs of two $50 cards for around $75, give you a discount on a night out and give you a chance to support a more-or-less local business. (I say more-or-less not because there’s any question that it’s local, just because I think “local business” conjures up an image of a more struggling mom-and-pop operation than Randy Paragary’s Sacto restaurant mafia.)

I didn’t expect to find the local fare among the many gift cards Costco offers at a discount (stuff like movies, Starbucks, etc).  Good idea though.  And who doesn’t appreciate a discount – the Dow just fell below 8000! Ack. Be frugal. Happy Slim Holidays.

Corti Bros. is safe for now

As you’ve probably heard. However, I was suprised to learn just how far Corti’s reach went: all the way to the Bay Area and beyond and into the hearts, minds, and kitchens of some of California’s leading epicureans.  Didn’t know what we had until it was (almost) gone.

Brewers Festival!

It’s like Miller Time, but so much more: California Brewer’s Festival at Discovery Park this Saturday!  Weather should be good. Beer should be better. Add in live music, food, and shady trees and you’ve got a great second chance for anyone who misssed Second Saturday last weekend.  See you there!

Sactown Budget Dining a la Frommer’s

I don’t know about you but I’ve been limiting all my summer travel to day trips–you know, the kind that cost a tank of gas, max, to get there and back. So, in the sprit of day trips, I picked up a (library) copy of Frommer’s California 2008 guidebook and started riffling through it. The pages fell open to Chapter 10, Sacramento, The Gold Country, & The Central Valley. How wonderful that we rank enough these days to be listed by name. It was fun to note we have only one “expensive” restaurant–Biba’s, but even better was the budget dining section. I don’t know if I agree with the selection of spots–I think they might have been hip and cheap 10 years ago, but here they are, as recommended by former Sacramento resident and Frommer’s writer, Matthew Richard Poole, with my reaction in italics afterward:

Best Burger: Willie’s Burgers on 16th Street I haven’t been to Willie’s in awhile, but I wonder why The Squeeze Inn was listed for best burger? Maybe they’re charging more after their foray into fame with the Food Network? Or perhaps the author didn’t go further than Midtown for budget dining…

Best Coffee: Java City at Capitol and 18th Street Hmm, I haven’t really been a big fan of the Java City on 18th–are they still there? I think they got swamped by all the construction in that area in the last 5 years. I’m saddened that The Naked Lounge wasn’t listed–maybe Java City is cheaper and better, but I don’t have reason to believe it.

Best Mexican: Taco Loco Taqueria at 24th and J Street I’ve walked by Taco Loco on occasion and maybe I’ll try it. I can tell you that I know why Vallejo’s isn’t and shouldn’t be listed as a “best”. But that’s for another post.

Best Breakfast: Cornerstone Restaurant at 24th and J Street I just want to know if Matthew Richard Poole ever worked for the Sacramento News and Review. They seem to love the Cornerstone with a passion not unlike Paula Deen’s passion for butter.

Best Brewery: Rubicon Brewing Company at 20th and Capitol Oooh, pretty lights at the Rubicon. But other than that, I don’t drink (even if my posts ramble as though I do), so I haven’t had the occasion to sample their brew-bicon.

I did enjoy paging through the Sac section of the guidebook, but isn’t there anything outside of downtown/midtown worth visiting? Or do we just look like any other California city once you get past the grid? What’s your best budget dining spot? Surely there’s something outside the grid worth hopping on the light rail or biking towards?

UPDATE: I did overlook a mention of Funderland, The Sacramento Zoo, and Fairytale Town, as well as a quick blurb about where to rent a river raft (in Rancho Cordova), so I guess we did briefly saunter outside the grid and into the “suburban sprawl” as Poole terms everything outside of said grid.

Midtown Cocktail Week?!

There’s really not much else to say, is there? Enjoy. (Responsibly.)

A Taste of Jordan

No, this is not some late-night Cinemax B-movie take-off of The Great Gatsby.

While zipping along K Street the other day, I noticed a slight but almost cataclysmic change: the True Love Coffeehouse had moved! The sign was still there, but there was another sign on that old white building: Sanad’s Mediterranean Deli. I was, of course, intrigued, since I’ve had to visit the wilds of the Crest Café in order to get my Med on. I added it to my agenda.

Last week, I got the chance to visit. I rolled by 2315 K Street on a Tuesday, exactly one week after they had opened. The inside is clean and spare, although the owner claims that they will be hosting some Second Saturday events and that there will be more artwork on the walls. There is a little bowl of kalamata olives and pickles for appetizers, which was a new one for me. The deli case is full of side orders for you to drool over while you wait for your main plate to be prepared, so watch out.

I struck up a conversation with the chef, who turned out to be the owner, Sanad, a recent arrival from Jordan. The recipes are his, and he prepares most of the food himself. The opening weekend had coincided with Second Saturday in July: “We served 222 people. And we ran out of food on Sunday!”

After eating there, I am not surprised…


A scorcher!

The temperature here in Sac is supposed to reach triple digits by Thursday. I have a few strategies planned to beat the heat this week. First off, I’ll be bringing shorts to change in to for my bike ride home from work. Second, I’ll be making frequent use of my apartment building’s pool. Finally, on the hottest day I plan on making a stop at the snow cone window at Osaka Ya.

How will you be staying cool?

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