August 29, 2007
Action on the Dining Scene

Geez, we haven't had a chance to even read the morning paper for the emails and calls coming in to announce happenings on the local dining scene:

- Monticello Bistro in Winters is relocating, but the move isn't far. As of Sept. 15, the season-oriented restaurant will share quarters with the tapas cafe Ficelle, behind the coffeehouse Steady Eddy's, with which the bistro has been sharing space. The address remains the same, 5 East Main St. Steady Eddy's is planning to expand its program, thus the change, says Rhonda Gruska, who with her husband Tony Gruska operates the bistro when they aren't running their catering company, Tastebuds Catering.

With the move, Monticello Bistro also will change its own program. Instead of dinners Fridays and Saturdays, dinner will be available Saturdays only starting Sept. 15, but the next day the Gruskas also will add a Sunday brunch menu and a prix-fixe French tea menu. The brunch menu is to include such options as smoked salmon with sweet-potato hash ($9), walnut caramel French toast ($8), tofu scramble ($8), and a pork tenderloin sandwich with roasted pepper relish ($8). The French tea menu is to include a market salad, a choice of quiche or tartine, housemade ginger cream scones with artisan preserves, assorted pastries and a selection of teas ($25).

With Tastebuds Catering, the Gruskas have been overseeing several events at R.H. Phillips Winery of Esparto. Upon returning home after one event they came across an abandoned puppy at Zamora. It was wary of the couple but finally got enticed into their arms by a leftover portion of one of the dishes they'd served at the winery. The dog, believed to be a mix of fox terrier, chihuahua and miniature pincher, is now named Xena and resides with the Gruskas. "We wish we were in France so we could bring her to the restaurant," says Rhonda Gruska. Oh, the dish that won over the dog? Short ribs braised in cabernet sauvignon.

- Michelle Lainez is the new executive chef at California Cafe at Arden Fair. She succeeds James Wilfong, who after a two-year run at the restaurant has moved to Santa Cruz, says Mark Moore, the restaurant's manager. Lainez comes to Sacramento from Napa Valley Grille in Westwood. Both California Cafe and Napa Valley Grille are brands of Tavistock Restaurants in Emeryville.

- Chris Webber - remember him? - will be back in Sacramento the next two days for events at his Natomas restaurant, Center Court. Starting at 6 p.m. Thursday he is to join friends at the restaurant to assemble their fantasy football league. At 9 p.m. Friday the former Kings star is to be behind the bar mixing drinks as a benefit for the Sacramento chapter of the Make A Wish Foundation. Center Court is at 3600 N. Freeway Blvd., Sacramento.

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