Though it's been only 18 months since Mark and Karoline Platt opened their impressive Sienna restaurant (formerly Masque) in El Dorado Hills, just last Monday they welcomed the first customers into Land Ocean, their "new American steakhouse" in Folsom.
"The style (of cuisine) at Sienna is California fusion, something I would classify as culinary, with complex dishes and sauces," Mark Platt said Wednesday as he paused here and there to make sure all was well with lunchtime diners. "Land Ocean is meant to be 'casual upscale' - high-quality but simple fare."
The space, formerly occupied by a Ruby Tuesday, has been transformed into an intimate dining room with a swank feel. A huge sheet of creamy, backlit onyx greets guests at the hostess station. Whole chickens slowly turned on a rotisserie over chunks of flaming mesquite. The ceiling is of beechwood slats, the broad windows are louvered, and dangling over the centerpiece bar is a striking sculpture/light fixture. Seating is in elevated booths, tiered so that "everybody gets a good seat," Platt said.
We cruised the lunch menu and found most of the choices reflective of the restaurant's logo - a bull standing on a beach (land and ocean, you see). Included are steak sandwiches, St. Louis-style Kurobuta pork ribs, Kobe burger, raw oysters, ahi tuna salad, blackened mahi and fresh fish of the day. A couple of surprises - crisp Southwestern-style egg rolls, Thai noodle steak salad and a hefty portobello mushroom burger.
Lunch ranges from $5 to $17; dinner runs up to $30 per entrée (steaks are from the Double R Ranch in Washington). If there are signature dishes, they're the bone-in 22-ounce cut of prime rib and the wild Alaskan king salmon.
We started with tenderloin Wellingtons, three puff-pastry cups brimming with bits of filet mignon tips and sautéed mushrooms spiked with a zippy brandy peppercorn sauce and "a béarnaise drizzle." Yummy ($13.95; early into dinner that evening, the kitchen had sold out).
My lunch pal ordered what she called "the best Caprese salad I've had," though basil wasn't part of the mix. Complementing the lumps of fresh buffalo mozzarella, Roma tomato, crisp Romaine lettuce and slices of red onion were pieces of moist, tender rotisseried chicken, grilled asparagus and silken basil vinaigrette ($13.95).
A well-handled piece of yellowtail tuna turned out to be the fish of the day - tender, moist, well-seasoned, crispy on the outside. A splash of chipotle hollandaise sauce was just right. On the plate too were bacon-flecked cubes of roasted Yukon gold potato (15.95).
As for dessert, molten chocolate lava cake with vanilla-bean ice cream and pebbles of English toffee served two nicely, but could have served three ($8.50).
For the time being, Sienna executive chef Jon Nelson is overseeing the kitchens of both restaurants, and his expert touch certainly shows at Land Ocean. An FYI: Nelson took first place in the Chefs Challenge competition at last year's inaugural Sacramento Tomato Fest at Town & Country Village, with his multi-dimensional chilled tomato soup.
Taking one last look around as we left, my lunch pal remarked, "They have the ambience, but they also have the food to back it up."
Land Ocean is at 2720 E. Bidwell St., Folsom; (916) 983-7000. The website is under construction; meanwhile, try www.siennarestaurants.com. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sundays-Wednesdays; 11 a.m.-midnight Thursdays-Saturdays.