A local chef in Hollywood

Another short post from me!

Longing for something to watch on a Tuesday night? Castle has already aired, you’ve already watched New Girl, and it’s another two nights until Glee… Search no longer! Stop your channel surfing tonight at 8pm for ABC’s The Taste, as local chef, Adam Pechal, dukes it out with other chefs to showcase their chops in front of judges that include gastronomic heavyweights like Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson.

You can catch my reviews of both his restaurants, Restaurant Thir13en: here and here (brunch) and the neighborhood favorite, Tuli Bistro.

Go, chef!!!


Hook and Ladder Happy Hour

This is a ridiculously short blog post with the sole purpose of this… Hook and Ladder now has a happy hour! Yay!

Belly up to the bar and pay my friend Brian a visit. If you go there for brunch, which I highly recommend, be sure to order his Red Snapper, an “eastern” version of the traditional bloody mary.

Anyway, I’ll be posting about my brunch experience there soon enough, so stay tuned!

Check out the menu via CowTown Eats, which is a fabulous resource for all the goings on in the Sacramento food scene!


Downtown and Vine

Wine, anyone? Downtown and Vine, the brainchild of an Amadorian and a Napa-ite, is the perfect blend of urban desires, with old-world sensibilities. What the heck does that mean? It means that this is a comfortable place where you can hang out for hours, or just pop in for a quick 3 oz. taste. Maybe you want to enjoy an awesome cheese plate, or a simple handful of olives. You can have a bottle of wine before joining a hobbit and a band of dwarves on an “unexpected journey” in 3D at the IMAX, or a flight in between showings during the French Film Festival at the Crest.

Located at 1200 K Street, Suite 8, the location couldn’t get more perfect. It’s close to the convention center, the aforementioned theaters, the Community Theater, the Capitol and light rail. It is also in an area that is bereft of wine bars. With Revolution Wines on the south east corner of the grid, and 58 and Holding in the heart of midtown, Downtown and Vine is on the downtown side of the grid.

What sets this apart from other wine bars is its designation as a licensed tasting room. Currently they taste from 10 wineries of Napa and Amador. Once they get their tasting room clearances from the various wineries, there will be selections from 12 wineries.

Gregg Lamar, of Amador and a Certified Sommelier, and Kate Chomko, a Le Cordon Bleu trained chef from Napa, opened the wine bar next to Blush Ultra Lounge in early December of 2012.

Thanks to the power of social media, Twitter in this case, I had heard about it via @CowtownEats and was anxious to give it a go. After a delightful dinner at Blackbird Kitchen + Bar (click here for a post on Blackbird), we were pretty full from dinner, but decided to check out the cheese plate anyway. They exclusively use artisan cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery. There are two choices: a red wine plate, or a white wine plate. This was the red wine plate, which included Mt. Tam, a triple cream, a blue from near Point Reyes, and an aged gouda. This is a generous cheese plate that would serve two hungry people well, or a small group. The accoutrements include fig bread, nuts, and natural honey.


We chose the flights from Fiddletown Cellars and Dillian.

IMG_7200 IMG_7197

The bar is a very comfortable place to chat with Kate, Tom, or Jenna (that night). But if you choose to sit elsewhere, there are other options. In addition to their regular seating, which includes both low and high tops, they have a large community style table that seats 12, plus a private room.

IMG_7194 IMG_7193 IMG_7195

They are still working out their menu, but it seems that one thing will be a mainstay: grown-up grilled cheese.

This is a wonderful place that I very much look forward to visiting again!

Overall: At this point – 4.5/5
Price: $$/$$$$$
Ambience: 4/5
Service: 4.5/5
Food: N/A, but the cheese plate was awesome!

Downtown and Vine
1200 K Street, Suite 8
Sacramento, CA  95814

Website: http://downtownandvine.com/
Facebook: http://downtownandvine.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DowntownAndVine

Taste Restaurant

It’s always hard to say goodbye to friends, and even more so when they’re new friends.

It was a warm Sunday afternoon during an Indian summer that we were enjoying the patio at 58 and Holding. Next to us sat a couple reading the newspaper and soaking in the last rays of this unusually warm October day. “Excuse me, what are you drinking,” the woman asked, and with that began a friendship! New to town, Jeb and Lea accepted my list of favorite area restaurants, we exchanged information and promised to meet at one of the restaurants in a couple weeks. Since then, we have bonded over wine, food, politics, and a love for discussion… and food. Did I mention wine?

So, needless to say, we were sad when they decided to move out of state, feeling like we hadn’t had nearly enough time to go to all the restaurants and wineries this area has to offer.

Luckily, we were able to get together one of their last weekends in town for a quick trip to Amador. This excursion involved a stop at Vino Noceto – just in time for their Frivolo release! – and Amador Cellars, where we were able to experience the bottling process with our own bottle of Zinfandel. Though close to closing time, they were kind enough to let us stay to sip on a bottle of wine, nosh on the complimentary goodies they offer, chat with the wine maker, and give lots of belly rubs to the two winery doggies.

Dinner that night was the highly anticipated Taste Restaurant. Located along the main street of the tiny town of Plymouth, it is across Highway 49  from the right turn you take on Plymouth Shenandoah Valley Road to get to the wineries. I know several people who have enjoyed their food, plus they are a frequent participant in Sacramento area restaurant events.

We were early for our reservation, but had to check out the Christmas tree located across the street in the square in all its finery!


It was warm and cozy in the restaurant, a nice respite from the cold outside. This is scene at the front of the restaurant, with the bar on the right and tables to the left. We were seated in the back room, a cozy, romantically lit room with seating for no more than 40, if memory serves me correct.


I was ecstatic to discover they have both vegetarian and vegan menus, plus a gluten free one, if you need that.

IMG_7030 IMG_7031

First off, Mushroom Cigars.


Oyster mushrooms, crimini, and shiitakes wrapped up with herbs and goat cheese in phyllo dough. This was voted “Best Appetizer” by editors of Sacramento magazine… and I can see why. They were absolutely delicious. The sauce was a wonderful complement to the super umami-ness of the mushrooms, while the clover greens added a nice refreshing touch.

These were followed up with argula & persimmon salad for Jeb and Lea, which also included a healthy dose of Grimaud Farms smoked duck breast.


The sweet potato gnocchi was really yummy. This is a modern twist on the classic sage, browned butter gnocchi. This version includes house made duck and fennel sausage, pear, and winter greens. The vegetarian version just has the sausage left off.

IMG_7036 IMG_7035

Roasted Grimaud Farms Guinea Hen. Winter squash gratin, crispy pork belly, Del Rio arugula, cranberry gastrique. This was certainly a healthy portion and Lea enjoyed this very much.


Pacific Swordfish. This was quite tasty, but not quite as good as I was expecting. I would say the best part of this was the flageolet beans! Broccoli romansesco added texture, while the blood orange gastrique served to tie it all together.


I ended up with a vegetarianized version of the Steak. Instead of steak, they substituted grilled squash. Otherwise, the dish stayed relatively the same, with the exception of the addition of sauteed pumpkin with shallots and crispy leeks for me. Creekstone Farms New York Steak is the meat eater version. I can’t speak to the tastiness of this guy, either, but I do know it was very much enjoyed! The rare steak sits atop a mix of red French pumpkin puree and sage risotto. The black garlic demi glace ties everything together, while the house cured bacon adds that wonderful… well, come on now. I guess you never really need a justification for adding bacon, right?


Dessert entailed Trio of Crème Brulee and two dessert wines. The featured flavors this evening were orange, persimmon, and vanilla bean. They were deliciously creamy and rich, with just the right amount of their respective flavor to really make this a wonderful dessert. The dessert wines were an orange muscat and… I can’t remember what the other one was. Oops.


The other dessert on the table was their “allergan free” selection. This was tropical green tea genoa cake, with a dollop of passion fruit sorbet on a bed of chocolate crumbs, chocolate mousse, a chocolate tuille, and finally, it is all tied up together in a nice passionfruit gel bow.


Overall, this wasn’t quite up to what I was expecting, but it did have a lot to live up to! Let’s just put it this way, I was much more disappointed by Episode I than this dining experience! The service was great, and the ambience was very intimate. Low lighting enhanced the dark wood of the dining room we were in, and there wasn’t an abundance of ambient noise – I like it when I don’t have to yell or read lips. It’s pretty much the opposite of the modernist decorations of some spots. I will definitely be back!

Overall: 3.5/5
Price: $$$$/$$$$$
Service: 4.5/5
Food: 3.5/5
Ambience: 3.5/5

Taste Restaurant
9402 Main Street
Plymouth, CA  95669
Phone: 209.245.DINE (3463)

Website: http://restauranttaste.com/pages/home.cgi