August 6, 2013
Cool treat holiday inspires A&W root beer float giveaway


By Benjamin Mullin

A&W restaurants throughout Sacramento are celebrating National Root Beer Float Day today by giving away free floats to customers.

Restaurants in the American-fair food chain will start handing the floats out at 2 p.m. and continue until the 10 p.m. closing.

In exchange, patrons will be encouraged to make a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization that serves veterans and service members who suffered physical or mental trauma during their military career after 2001.

You can pick up your free root beer at these Sacramento-area A&W restaurants:

3030 Capitol Ave.

812 Westacre Road

1601 Del Paso Blvd.

2312 Arden Way

2920 Del Paso Road

3820 Florin Road

4219 Marconi Ave.

6328 Rio Linda Blvd.

July 18, 2013
New Food Network show looking for chefs

GGG Flyer Final.jpg

By Janelle Bitker

Food Network is on the hunt for creative chefs to compete in a new cooking show.

Competitors will be tasked with grocery store challenges, with up to $20,000 on the line.

Some potential examples? Make steak and potatoes, only the store is out of steak and potatoes. Or whip up a delicious dinner for four with only $6.

"We're looking for chefs who can think out of the box and on their toes," said Jen Walsh, casting associate producer.

And they're looking for professional chefs of varying backgrounds - executive chefs at fine dining establishments, sous chefs at neighborhood joints, wedding caterers, etc. - right now. There are no open casting calls, rather, producers will conduct phone and Skype interviews with people of interest.

The show is currently unnamed, but based on the titles of some forwarded PDFs, we'll put our money on something like "The Great Grocery Games."

Check the flier for more details and email to apply.

July 17, 2013
'Lost Restaurants of Sacramento' celebrated at Time Tested Books

Thumbnail image for 9781609499730_p0_v1_s260x420.JPGBy Kurt Chirbas

It was standing room only Wednesday night as foodies packed Time Tested Books to hear a special presentation by Maryellen and Keith Burns.

The Sacramento natives, who are siblings, came to promote their newest book, "Lost Restaurants of Sacramento and their Recipes," which surveys the history of dining out in their home city.

Profiled in the book are a series of closed, but fondly remembered restaurants, such as the Milk Farm, Buggy Whip and Harvey's Hamburgers. And sprinkled in between the stories of these eateries are also recipes for some area's best-known food items, such as Wulff's house dressing, Giusti's Portuguese beans and the Nut Tree Potato Salad.

The event got off to a late start when copies of the book were in short supply.

"There has been a rush on books," Maryellen Burns told the audience as an explanation for the delay. "We are really proud, so we've actually gone to our house to get some more. So thank you. This is a great turnout."

Perhaps the gap between anticipated and realized attendance was best illustrated by the number of hot dogs the authors planned to serve. Initially, the siblings had intended to give everyone in the audience a Taylor's Market dog. However, after looking at the larger-than-expected crowd, Maryellen Burns said: "You might have to share."

The temperature in the room was high (more than one attendee turned their book into a hand-powered fan), but the crowd's enthusiasm was too.

After giving a brief overview of the book, and providing some context on history of dining in Sacramento (such as John Sutter's contribution in the 1840s and the impact of women entering the workforce in the 1940s), Maryellen and Keith Burns turned over the presentation to the audience. Most of the event consisted of attendees swapping stories about eating and working at some of their favorite old-time and bygone eateries.

Maryellen Burns admitted that the siblings could not fit everything that they had wanted into their book. She said they had a contract to write the book in five months, and were given a maximum of 40,000 words. That meant many restaurants and food topics never made it to print.

She said, however, that the two would definitely be working on a follow-up.

A video of the event can be viewed below.

July 15, 2013
Sacramento BLT Week starts today

By Janelle Bitker

Can you ever have too much bacon? Sacramento BaconFest thinks not, nor do the many restaurants participating in Sacramento BLT Week, which runs till Saturday. We turned to Storify to best tell this tale of widespread BLT mayhem.

July 12, 2013
Mimi's Cafe offering historic deal for Bastille Day

By Kurt Chirbas

Mimi's Café will offer a historic (interpret that word literally) discount this Bastille Day. The restaurant chain will roll back five of its items--including its individual classic muffins, French onion soup, French dip sandwich, eggs benedict and pain perdu--to their 1978 prices for one day only, July 14.

Why 1978? That's the year that Mimi Café's opened, although this factoid doesn't explain the link between the promotion and the French National Holiday as well as you'd think. According to the chain's corporate website, Arthur J. Simmons (a U.S. admiral) founded the first Mimi's Café in Anaheim (a U.S. city).

Simmons was, however, stationed in France during World War II, and was inspired to launch the first café because of his memories of the county, particularly a French mademoiselle Mimi.

There are several locations in the Sacramento region where you can take this economic trip through time, including ones in Natomas, Arden Way, Elk Grove, Roseville and Folsom.

July 12, 2013
Big Red Bus to take to the streets next week


By Kurt Chirbas

Streets of London plans on putting its new food truck on the road next week for a "gentle launch," according to Marty Hutton, executive chef at the English-style pub.

The Bee headed out to an alley between I and J Street Friday afternoon as workers were finishing wrapping red vinyl around a truck that once serviced fish tacos. When finished, the new face-lift will give it the appearance of a double-decker bus.

The truck will head over to the health office on either Monday or Tuesday, Hutton said. After that, you'll likely spot Big Red Bus, also nicknamed "Jeeves," outside his own or one of his peer's pubs.

Hutton had initially wanted an actual double-decker bus. After determining that compliance requirements would make it too expensive, he spent nine months searching for a food truck.

He stumbled across the current truck while scanning Craig's List on the way back from the Bay Area. Hutton placed a call to its owner and headed to San Jose.

As Hutton recounts the story, he "pulled in, looked at it, and made an offer right there."

One of its most impressive features, Hutton said, is the double-door kitchen fridge, which will allow Jeeves to service weddings. The only major modification that will be made to the truck's interior will be a removal of its stove and the installation of two friers.

Once launched, Big Red Bus will run a regular route through Sacramento on Monday-Friday. It will also be able for private bookings and events. The truck will be at New Helvetia brewery on Broadway July 28.

The truck will offer fish 'n chips, global-inspired burritos, priori hamburgers, specialty salads and kabobs. Most items on the menu will cost $7 to keep things "dead simple," Hutton said.

July 10, 2013
Capital Dime preview impresses with concept, execution

IMG_0333.JPGBy Janelle Bitker

Capital Dime is looking promising after a preview event on Wednesday night.

The hotly anticipated restaurant comes from proprietor Noah Zonca, previously of The Kitchen fame. The goal? Make the farm-to-fork movement accessible - and affordable - to a wide audience. Zonca wants it to be a neighborhood restaurant, and the vibe is formal enough for business luncheons without being stiff. Better yet, most of the menu is around $10.

"It's been difficult to pull off," Zonca said. "I can tell you that it's taken 20 plus years of building relationships with my purveyors to be able to get these price points."

Zonca wanted to open a couple weeks ago, but he's still waiting on his liquor license. Once it's in hand, The Dime is ready for business.

Here are some highlights: The Dime will have a wine program with bottles under $50, with some promised to be in the $20 range. Zonca's favorite item on the menu is the pastrami, cured and smoked in house. There will be brunch featuring three different benedicts - a traditional, a country-style on biscuits and a benedict with applewood-smoked and braised pork. At the preview, the pork was served as an appetizer with crème fraîche, and it was smoky and sweet.

"I explain it as the food that chefs eat," he said. "It's going to be fun. I'm excited."

On the farm-to-fork topic, Zonca is working with Delta Island Organic Farm and is hoping to set up a cattle ranch for true grass-fed beef. And behind the bar is Rene Dominguez, formerly of Ella Dining Room & Bar and inventor of the prized White Linen cocktail.

Dominguez was serving up two cocktails on Wednesday - a black Manhattan, with amaro instead of vermouth, and the "Boxers and Bobbysocks," with gin, bitters, muddled cherries and rosemary. It was piney and refreshing.

Food-wise, we were served artichoke dip on crostini, which packed a nice, subtle heat, alongside a sampling of pulled pork, as mentioned above. Then there was a tangy watermelon salad, with shrimp, squash blossoms, fresh mozzarella, salty Bonita flakes and fish sauce, all on a tea leaf. That was followed by a bold pastrami slider alongside fries, which while tasty, did get soggy quickly under melted cheese.

The meal ended with a simple, soft chocolate-chip cookie. Zonca said he won't have a separate dessert menu, and at this point, there's no pastry chef.

Come down to The Dime on July 14 for the Bastille Day celebration. If the liquor license is attained in time, they'll be serving cocktails on their impressive back patio. And check out the video below to hear from Zonca himself, see the space and eye some dishes.

Capital Dime: 1801 L St., Suite 50

July 10, 2013
Doughbot competes on Cooking Channel tonight

By Janelle Bitker

Catch Sacramento's most creative donut-wizards tonight on Food Network Canada's "Donut Showdown," the fried dough equivalent to "Cupcake Wars."

While Bryan Widener and Dannah O'Donnell of Doughbot Donuts can't reveal what'll happen tonight, keep in mind that the episode was shown in Canada back in April. So if you really wanted to know, you could find a spoiler.

Widener and O'Donnell admitted it was fun, though.

"It was a chance to do what we do every day in a competitive setting," O'Donnell said.

And Widener: "It was really cool to be selected to do this, especially with all these other big shops in big cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles."

And they may or may not have won $10,000.

Competitors are Seattle's Top Hot Doughnuts and Salt Lake City's Gimme Sugar Catering in tonight's camping-themed episode - the second in the brand-new series - and it airs at 7 p.m. on The Cooking Channel, channel 203 on Comcast and 232 in DirecTV in HD.

Doughbot Donuts: 2226 10th St, Sacramento. Open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

July 9, 2013
New Belgium tour to stop in Davis

By Janelle Bitker

In its fourth year of pairing beer with short films, New Belgium Brewing's Clips Beer and Film Tour returns to Davis on Friday, July 26.

Clips moves from state to state - Santa Cruz is the only other California stop - establishing a space for New Belgium fans to taste some of their more unusual offerings. Up to 16 beers will be on tap, with a 3 oz. sample going for $1 and a full 12 ounces for $5. Classics like Fat Tire Amber Ale will probably make an appearance, as will Lips of Faith brews like Heavenly Feijoa (pineapple, guava and hibiscus), Cascara Quad (Trappist-style with dates and cherries) and Paardebloem (ale bittered with dandelion greens).

Leave your own booze at the door - or, er, away from Central Park - but packed picnics are welcome. Otherwise Monticello Cuisine and The Davis Graduate will have bites for sale. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., admission is free and beer proceeds go to Davis Bicycles!, a citizen group who advocates for bike culture and safety. About 1,300 people attended last year, so expect it to get cozy.

July 8, 2013
Local 8-year-old healthy eating advocate to meet Michelle Obama

20130531_AOC_NicolasGarden_004w.JPGNicolas Come, the 8-year-old junior chef and healthy eating advocate from Orangevale, has an important interview Tuesday: Michelle Obama at the White House.

Come earned an invitation to the First Lady's Kids State Dinner to promote healthy living and fight childhood obesity.

He will attend as an official "farm-to-fork kids correspondent" at Tuesday's media event at noon EDT (9 a.m. PDT) in the East Room of the White House. He said he plans to upload his interviews and coverage live at his website,

In addition to Mrs. Obama, Nicolas plans to interview other youth attending the event. Most of the invitees developed healthy kid-friendly recipes using fresh fruit and vegetables.

Come's own recipe that he developed for the First Lady's healthy lunch contest (a colorful chicken curry) did not win, but he received permission to attend as a member of the media. Tuesday, he will be among the youngest reporters in the White House press corps.

Nicolas received worldwide attention for his mobile recipe app, Nicolas' Garden, which launched earlier this year.

-- Debbie Arrington

Sacramento second-grader's healthy food app sprouts success

Gunthers vs. Vic's -- which ice cream is best?

July 3, 2013
Beat Sacramento heat with free Jamba Juice smoothie

OrangeCarrotKarma65.jpgBy Kurt Chirbas

Here's a tip for those looking for a cool way to escape the Sacramento heat: a new online promotion means you can get two Jamba Juice smoothies for the price one.

An online coupon, which offers a free smoothie when another of equal or lesser value is purchased, can be found on the restaurant chain's corporate site.

All you have to do is print out the coupon and present it at a participating location before Sunday (July 7) when the promotion expires.

(The coupon specifies that there is a limit of one coupon per person per visit.)

Here's a (much) abridged list of Sacramento Jamba Juice locations where you can redeem the coupon: 15th street and Broadway, Alhambra Boulevard., Gateway Oaks Drive, Arden Fair Mall and 65th street and Folsom.

July 3, 2013
Get a year's worth of doughnuts at Krispy Kreme opening

By Janelle Bitker

Krispy Kreme devotees, start gathering your camping gear.

A new Krispy Kreme shop in West Sacramento is opening at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 9, and the first person in line gets one dozen free glazed doughnuts every week for a full year.

Being No. 1 may seem daunting, but the next 99 customers still receive a dozen free doughnuts every month for a year. That's a whole lot of popularity around the office.

But wait. There's more.

The first customer in the drive-through line - no tent needed - also gets a dozen free doughnuts every week for a year, and the following 11 drive-through customers get the monthly treatment. There are also t-shirts at stake for all 112 Krispy Kreme-winners.

For context: A recent opening in Mesa, Arizona drew 100 people before 11 p.m. the night before, and Charlene Lopez of the WKS Restaurant Group said the earliest she's seen a camper was 8 a.m. a full day before opening.

Krispy Kreme West Sacramento: 768 Ikea Court, Suite 110, West Sacramento. Expected hours are 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

July 2, 2013
Triple-digit heat? Blogger bakes cookies in her car


By Janelle Bitker

Stephanie Nuccitelli took full advantage of the heat wave on Sunday. She used her car as an oven and baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

It sort of worked. Nuccitelli, the Sacramento-based baker behind the popular 52 Kitchen Adventures blog, put a couple trays on the dashboard at 2 p.m., when it was 102 degrees outside and 210 degrees inside her car.

"Next time I will start earlier, because a few hours later is was only 175 in the car and that slowed the cooking process down," she said.

After about five hours, the cookies were crispy on top and undercooked beneath, which is ideal for someone like Nuccitelli who enjoys a doughy cookie. On another triple-digit afternoon, she'll make some tweaks and blog about her findings.

"On a really hot day, you don't want to use the oven, so this is one way to satisfy a cookie craving," she said.

It probably smells great, too.

July 3 UPDATE: Nuccitelli went at it again with great success. Her biggest tips? Start early, use just a little bit of dough per cookie and don't line the baking sheet. Read why on her blog.


July 1, 2013
Beer and barbecue bar set for August opening

By Janelle Bitker

Attention Midtown barbecue nerds: brisket is on its way.

Brisket - one of the trickiest, time-consuming and luscious meats to prepare and the king of Texas-style BBQ - will be the star of Tank House, an upcoming bar located at the site of Sacramento's oldest water tank.

Tank House's BBQ will lean toward West Texas and Kansas City styles - meaning a variety of meats that are seasoned, smoked then sauced - but that may change.

"We want to give our chef the freedom to kind of make it our own style," said Tyler Williams, co-owner along with his wife, Melissa.

Who is this chef? Williams will make the announcement in a week or two, but he noted that the pitmaster has the credentials to manage a wood-burning smoker. What kind of wood? Burnt ends? It'll all depend on the pitmaster.

Williams, a bartender at The Golden Bear for nine years, is going for a simple, "shot and beer" oriented bar with a heavy emphasis on local beers. He's hoping to have a beer pairing program, featuring some of his favorites like Ruhstaller's Gilt Edge lager and New Helvetia's Saison Solon. Tank House will have a full bar, but it'll stay away from craft cocktails and artisanal bourbons.

Tank House is set to open in early August, and so far, Williams is feeling optimistic.

Tank House will be at 1925 J Street., Sacramento;

June 7, 2013
Dickey's Barbecue raising funds for local hero

DickeysBBQ.jpegTwo area Dickeys Barbecue restaurants will be raising funds to help a local man who was stabbed while trying to protect teens from bullies.

Ray Snook and Jared Katzenbarger, owners of the Dickey's franchises -- located at 1015 Riley St. in Folsom and at 4640 Natomas Blvd. in Natomas -- have announced that they will donate profits earned between 4 and 9 p.m. on June 11 to Jonathan Robinson, who was in a coma for more than a week after the April 1 incident. The fundraiser's proceeds will help pay for Robinson's medical expenses.

Robinson, 32, was stabbed seven times when he tried to help some teenagers who were being bullied near the North Pointe Park Apartments in Natomas. His suspected attackers were later taken into custody. Robinson required six hours of emergency surgery and spent a week in a medically induced coma, according to the Gridley Herald.

Robinson, who is expected to make a full recovery, will make appearances at both the Natomas and Folsom locations during the fundraiser, according to Katzenbarger.

Dickey's operates more than 300 restaurants in 40 states.

-- Jack Newsham

Photo: Food at Dickey's Barbecue (credit: Al Pierleoni).

June 5, 2013
Go ahead and judge: State Fair wine competition underway

Thumbnail image for statefairwine.JPG

Purple teeth reign inside Building 5 at Cal Expo today, where the 2013 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition is underway.

Seventy two judges will consider more than 2,600 wine entries, with each judge considering about 80 wines today and Thursday. A panel will also convene Friday to award the sweepstakes winners from 11 California wine regions.

This year's competition features a number of new touches. Former Bee food and wine editor Mike Dunne and former Bee columnist Rick Kushman are serving as co-chief judges. Of the 72 judges, about half are new.

I'm serving on Panel 18, which kicked off this morning by tasting 27 red blends and then considered 21 sauvignon blancs. Only three golds have been awarded thus far on Panel 18, which includes Dave Crippen of Renwood winery.

And now, flights are being set for an afternoon of chardonnay consideration. Starting at 9 a.m. Thursday, we'll be back to dump buckets and wine stained scoring sheets. Stay tuned for more. --Chris Macias

May 13, 2013
Enotria's new GM: Looking to bring stability, maintain excellence

junnyyun.jpegOver the past nine months, Enotria Restaurant and Wine Bar has made a name for itself as a great dining destination, complete with artfully created food, polished service and a vast wine list.

But the restaurant has also seen more than its share of growing pains and personnel changes under the leadership of its dynamic and exacting executive chef, Pajo Bruich, notably the recent hiring - and then hasty departure - of general manager Anani Lawson, whose pedigree included stints as sommelier at two Thomas Keller restaurants, the French Laundry and Per Se.

Earlier this month, Enotria hired a new general manager, Jenny Yun, whose assignment will be to bring the right balance of excellence and casual fun to the dining room while providing a sense of stability and cohesiveness to what may be Sacramento's most exciting restaurant.

February 26, 2013
Beer Week: Pliny at the Pour House


On a related note, the Davis location of Burgers & Brew (403 Third St., Davis) will be tapping their keg of Pliny the Younger on Thursday at 3 p.m. The owners are still mulling the price and serving size, which will either be $3 for an 8 ounce pour or $2 for a 5 ounce pour.

Also, is anyone else succumbing to Pliny the Younger fatigue?

January 2, 2013
Remembering The Broiler's Marylou Lords

This past Sunday, The Bee remembered the artists -- musicians, painters, actors -- who passed away in 2012. But what about those creative souls in the kitchen? Here, Chris Macias memorializes the gracious, down-to-earth Marylou Lords, who had a sizable impact on our city's restaurant scene.


Sacramento restaurateur
July 24, 1945 - Aug. 23, 2012

For a quarter century, Marylou Lords helped bring heapings of protein and a backdrop for power lunches in downtown Sacramento. Lords, who passed away in August at the age of 67, was co-founder of downtown's Broiler Steakhouse. The restaurant's proximity to the Capitol always made it perfectly suited for politicians, lobbyists and others with expense accounts to burn - not to mention Sacramentans who are simply hungry for a big hunk of beef and a side of au gratin potatoes. The restaurant originally opened in 1950 under a different ownership.

Photo caption: A portrait of steak on the hoof looks down on diners in the Broiler in downtown Sacramento.

November 20, 2012
Guy Fieri controversy comes full circle on 'SNL'

First, the New York Times roasted celebrity chef Guy Fieri with a flame-thrower review of his new Times Square eatery from critic Pete Wells. Then the host of Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" responded on the "Today" show, suggesting that Wells had an agenda. Meanwhile, many in Sacramento had a fist bump of support for Fieri, who runs two restaurants in the area and even attended culinary classes at American River College.

So how do we know that this controversy has come full circle? "Saturday Night Live" weighed in this weekend with a skit that skewered both Fieri and the Grey Lady simultaneously. The bit didn't make the final broadcast (this clip is from a pre-recorded dress rehearsal), but it's peppered with plenty of funny nonetheless. Enjoy.

Does Guy Fieri own the country's worst restaurant?
Lambasted in N.Y., Guy Fieri has culinary fans in Sacramento

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