April 13, 2011
Remodeled Lounge on 20 to feature chef Pajo Bruich, updated dining program

Note: Owner Ali Mackani clarified that LoungeON 20's name will stay, but the remodel has been dubbed "Lounge 2.0." This has been corrected.

Midtown's Lounge ON20 is undergoing a remodeling and will emerge later this month with an expanded food program. Look for what's being dubbed "Lounge 2.0" to debut later this month, with a menu that emphasis molecular gastronomy and overseen by new executive Pajo Bruich. The Lincoln-based chef was profiled in the Bee back in March, showing off cutting edge techniques and equipment, including the deep-freezing capabalities of a Pacojet and a penchant for sous vide cooking, in which ingredients are slow cooked in a water bath over extended periods.

Bruich will bring many of these methods to Lounge On20 (1050 20th St., Sacramento; 916-443-6620), which is slated for a "soft opening" on April 21 and then celebrating its grand opening from April 28 - 30. The lounge menu will continue to emphasize small plates, with prices in the $8 range, and include tacos with the pork cooked sous vide, in-house roasted nuts and a tweaking of the lounge's fried mac n' cheese recipe. Entree prices will range from about $18 to $28, and while this menu is still being fine tuned, plan on such items as house cured hamachi belly with compressed melon, and a confit filet of Alaskan halibut with baby artichokes, fennel, carrots and watercress.

"I'm looking forward to exploring and doing some new things and some different things," said Bruich. "A large percentage of our menu is being based around sous vide and ways to utilize the technology ... I think this (new position) will give me the platform to explore new ideas, the manpower to execute them and the support of the customers to make it all possible."

This approach of molecular gastronomy, in which foods are re-imagined with a bit of science and technology, will also extend to desserts. Elaine Baker, formerly of Grange restaurant, will oversee this sweet section of the menu with items including A deconstructed carrot cake with whipped passion fruit, carrot fluid gel, dehydrated carrot crisp, walnut caramel, cream cheese frosting and micro carrot tops.

The updated Lounge ON20 will also ditch some of its former Miami-esque decor in favor of a new color scheme with contemporary art and a "floating fireplace" in the lounge area. The project's design is being spearheaded by Sacramento's Inform Design.

This expansion of Lounge ON20's dining program comes as others are scaling back into comfort food menus and lower price points. (Think: Mason's ditching fine dining for Cafeteria 15L, or Bistro 33 turning into Spin Burger Bar). Lounge ON20 owner Ali Mackani believes Sacramento is simply ready for more of the cutting edge cuisine that other cities enjoy more plentifully.

"From a food perspective this city has been very progressive," said Mackani. "We feel we can bring something different and new to our guests. The concept of Lounge on 20 we started about three years ago is a desire that still exists and has a good following. But with this change we're creating more of a dining experience and have a chance to bring a really unique style of food with Pajo on board."

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