June 16, 2008
South Pine Cafe Edges Closer to Sacramento

Aside from the occasional baseball game or concert, I avoid crowds. Thus, I generally don't eat out on New Year's Eve, Mother's Day, Easter and the like. Yesterday was an exception. I've been hearing good things about South Pine Cafe in Nevada City, so a Father's Day excursion seemed in order. But then I remembered how much I'd paid to fuel up the car the day before. And then I remembered hearing that a branch of South Pine Cafe had opened recently in Auburn, not quite so far removed from Sacramento.

What we found was a bright cafe that might have been as busy even if it weren't Father's Day. The place was jammed with old bikers, young families, and the large Marc and Monica Deconinck party. (They own Le Bilig French Restaurant in Auburn, and it's almost always a good sign to find restaurateurs patronizing a neighbor.)

The South Pine Cafe's extensive menu takes advantage of a modern and global consciousness to bring new color and vigor to traditional breakfast and lunch dishes. Lobster and a hollandaise with jalapeno chile peppers muscle into the eggs Benedict, the chicken in a burrito is seasoned with a Thai peanut sauce, and chipotle chile peppers, grilled onions and bacon beef up the "smoldering pine burger."

But while there's a New Age vibe to South Pine Cafe - a tofu scramble is spiced with jerk sauce, a vegetarian burger is made with pecans and brown rice - there's also a streak of traditionalism, as represented by such dishes as old timey biscuits and gravy, buttermilk pancakes, and huevos rancheros.

Father's Day is no day to review a restaurant, other than to say we found the mimosa tangy and refreshing, the Southwestern corn cakes sweet and snappy, and we look forward to another visit. If we're lucky, maybe a Sacramento branch will open one of these days. In the meantime, the Nevada City original is at 110 South Pine St., a Grass Valley branch is at 102 Richardson St., and the Auburn outlet, which opened in May, is at 660 Auburn-Folsom Road. All are open 8 a.m.-3 p.m. daily.

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