The Shack

Arguably, summer has arrived in Sacramento. With temps in the upper 70s to 80s, the time has come when we start biking everywhere, sit outside, picnic and enjoy the weather before the dead of summer hits and it’s too hot to do anything but sit inside someplace air conditioned. On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, I met some friends for brunch at The Shack. Having driven past many times, but never been there, I was excited to check it out. The Shack boasts an incredibly impressive beer selection, from cherry ciders, lambics and the like, to medium bodied beers, to dark and nutty… from Belgium, to the US, to ?? This is a beer drinker’s heaven. I know they have wine, too, but I’m not sure what that list looks like.

Located a few yards away from Trader Joe’s on Folsom Boulevard, this East Sacramento hotspot is a regular stop for folks on that side of town. But it’s also very bikeable. Their bike racks are always full with those seeking hoppy libations.

But the best part of The Shack? Its incredible patio. There is a large patio with heavy wood picnic-style tables in the front of the restaurant…

20130421-152732.jpg

The front patio

..and even more space along the side.

20130421-152748.jpg

Side patio

Some folks were asking about dog-friendly patios in the Sacramento area… and The Shack is one of the best places. In the two and a half hours I was there, I saw about eight dogs enjoying the beautiful day with their people. Labs, golden retrievers, a shih-tzu, and several others. The Shack keeps several dog bowls next to a hose bib right outside their front door, so you immediately know this is a place where Scooby is just as welcome as Shaggy!

20130421-152758.jpg

The Shack has a nice selection of breakfast items, including omelets, benedicts, waffles, sandwiches, and salads. It’s an all-inclusive menu with something for everyone… even a vegan! I, however, am not vegan, and ordered the veggie benedict, aka the Jenny Bene. I am rather particular about how my eggs are poached and these were just right. Cooked just enough so that the egg whites weren’t runny on the inside, but not too much that the yolks were hard at all. These expertly poached eggs were atop spinach on an English muffin. The hollandaise sauce, which I always get on the side, was a lighter, lemony sauce that was really delicious. The potatoes were classic breakfast potatoes.

20130421-152805.jpg

Veggie benedict

The other item was “The Veg.” Pesto cream cheese, cucumber, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and onion usually on toasted whole wheat, although this version is on toasted sour dough.

20130421-152821.jpg

“The Veg” sandwich

Now onto the beer! I wanted a hard apple cider, but there wasn’t anything available that day, so the server brought out this extremely unique beer. It was sweet, sour, and totally unique. I initially balked at the $8.50 price tag, but  it is worth every penny.

20130421-152921.jpg

My second beer…

20130421-152910.jpg

I had told the server I liked lighter ales, Belgian whites, and pilsners. After she (Charlie, and she’s awesome) gave her recommendations, all of which I had already tried, I asked her to surprise me. The Fin du Monde was floral, a little bit sweet, and a nice way to close out brunch.

Bottom line, The Shack is a great place to hang out with your friends over a leisurely meal, whether it’s comprised of food, or just the liquid kind, and has better than average fare for a beer garden, an amazing selection of beer, super friendly staff, and lots of fun events for the beer lover, the dog lover, and the lover of life! I am very excited to go back!

20130421-152833.jpg

Front door

Overall: 4.5/5
Service: 4/5
Price: $$/$$$$

The Shack
5201 Folsom Boulevard
(East) Sacramento, CA  95819

916.457.5997

Monday 11am-3pm
Tuesday through Friday 11am-9pm
Saturday and Sunday Brunch 8am-3pm

website: http://eastsacshack.com/

Restaurant Thir13en – Brunch

The long and short of it? Go to Thir13en for brunch!

With a ridiculously fresh menu that changes daily, Thir13en isn’t just a great place for dinner… now you can have your brunch and eat it, too! It was a beautiful day and the patio was open for business! Meeting up with a couple of friends, we grabbed some bloody marys, which were a veritable salad onto themselves, and blood orange/prosecco mimosas and enjoyed the gorgeous weather.

While Chef/owner Adam Pechal is still trying out some new things for the menu, he’s got some wonderful dishes like Chicken Little, his take on the classic comfort food of chicken and waffles. But this is no fake syrup with cardboard waffles, nope! His are buttermilk fried young chicken with goat cheese-herb waffles and a bacon-maple syrup. Also are staples like Steak and Eggs, and another twist on a classic dish: Eggs Benedict, Tuscan style (I kind if felt like the narrator on the original Iron Chef there for a second!) Also is the more unusual chilaquiles – tortilla chips with salsa, eggs, grilled chicken, cotija cheese, avocado, and sour cream. Adorning the table today: Tuscan Benedict and Joe Pruner’s Special.

The Tuscan Benedict was made with prosciutto, peperonata, and poached eggs atop an English muffin with a meyer lemon hollandaise sauce smothering the entire creation. The prosciutto is more like a ham than the thinly sliced prosciutto you might be accustomed to seeing. Because of this, it’s heartier and stands up well to the peperonata. Speaking of which, the peperonata was fabulous. Its sweet and tangy flavors mixed well with the saltiness of the prosciutto and the sweetness of the hollandaise sauce.

At first glance, the menu does not appear to be veghead friendly. However, Adam is more than happy to accommodate any substitutions to make something vegetarian. In this case, he suggested making the scramble with a multitude of mushrooms in place of the usual beef. This was fabulous. It was 3 scrambled eggs and thrown together with delicious carmelized onions, bloomsdale spinach and just the right amount of white cheddar to hold it all together in cheesy goodness. I think the standout in this dish was the onions. There were just enough to bring out the flavor of the onions, while also bringing out the best in the other ingredients. But my favorite thing? The potatoes! It was a serving of the most perfectly fried potatoes I’d ever had. Cubed and with a sublime crunch, gently seasoned with rosemary from their herb garden, and perfectly salted with large grains of sea salt, I’ve found my perfect potato! A friend of mine put it well: There really is nothing like something simple done right. This is just such an example… few ingredients done absolutely perfectly.

I admit it, I’m a total sucker for biscuits and gravy, and macaroni and cheese. Well, 13 does both… really well. I mean, seriously. It’s a little bit ridiculous. There was some miscommunication about my scramble, so to appease me (because I’m such a raging bitch, or something, haha), Adam brought out some of his heavenly biscuits and gravy. These were cheddar, chive and smothered in Sawmill gravy. (I don’t know what recipe he uses, but whatever it is, it’s delicious.) I couldn’t really eat much of this, since it had large chunks of sausage, but did taste it. Warning: The large is big enough to feed a Mormon family, or my office mate’s 16 year old son! It did reheat well, however, so your mouth can go for a delectable dip in Sawmill gravy for a few days after your visit.

Adam is still tweaking the menu a bit, so don’t be surprised if you see some new, fun stuff! And he’s willing to hear what you’ve got to say… suggestions are most definitely welcome! Adam flits from table to table, doing his chef shmoozing only like he can. During my visit, the co-owner of Tuli was on the patio enjoying brunch, as was server from Tuli. Clearly they believe in these two restaurants as much as anyone, which speaks volumes to me. So, get thee to Restaurant 13’s Sunday brunch with all speed!

1300 H Street
http://thir13en.com/
Reservations available through Open Table or their website.

This says it all!

This says it all!

Inside dining area

Inside dining area

Community table and bar

Community table and bar

Herb garden out front

Herb garden out front

He'll bop you on the head with his wing if you're a jerk

He'll bop you on the head with his wing if you're a jerk

Thir13en on Urbanspoon

Tuli Bistro – Brunch

Located on the corner of 21st and S, Tuli Bistro has established itself as a neighborhood “go-to” spot… a place where denizens regularly visit. Many of the employees have been there a while, so you’re almost always guaranteed to see a familiar face. The menu changes daily, and features seasonal, local fare. One of the great things about Tuli is their open kitchen style. Grab a seat at the bar and watch them create your meal from start to finish. This bar seats about a dozen or so, with two other high top tables available for parties of two. The “dining room” is more like a sun room. It remains comfortable year-round though, thanks to the heat lamps that warm it in the winter and ceiling fans for the summer months. Heavy coverings roll open to fully secure the open space between the roof and the railing. It works great to keep out both the rain and hot sun. When the weather is nice, it’s a fabulous place to enjoy a glass of wine and sit outside, without actually sitting outside.

The inside bar

Outside dining room

Tuli is the elder sibling of Restaurant Thir13en, so you’ll see some familiar sounding dishes on the menu if you’ve ever been to 13. They are equally delicious, but very different dining experiences, with Tuli being the more casual place you might regular, and Thir13en being a little fancier and reserved for a special night.

I’ve eaten dinner and brunch several times at Tuli over the years, and it never ceases to impress. The waitstaff is well trained and attentive, presentation is fabulous, and if you ever receive anything that isn’t up to snuff, they will gladly return it from whence it came and make sure you are the happiest you could be with your order.

One of the best things about Tuli’s Sunday brunch? Bottomless mimosas! At $9 a pop with the purchase of an entrée, this is one of the best deals in Sacramento. Before you say, holy cow, how is that a deal? these mimosas aren’t made with Cook’s and Sunny D… Nope! These mimosas consist of Odwalla orange juice and a delicious cava.

Bottomless mimosas FTW!

Brunch menu

I had it on good advice to get the trout benedict. This was amazing. I’m a sucker for a light, lemon-y Hollandaise sauce and this did not disappoint. With thick cut brioche serving as the base, the poached eggs, with a sprinkling of chives and paprika, perched atop a large and long filet of expertly cooked trout. This was all brought together by the aforementioned Hollandaise sauce, of which there was, delightfully, no shortage. Accompanying the benedict was a side of home fries. If you happen to get this, do be cautious of bones. It’s difficult to completely debone a fish like this, so just be on the lookout!

Trout Benedict

The other dish was cheesy grits. Not only were they cheesy, but had a kick like a small mule, so beware, all you non-iron clad stomach sufferers. You might want to have the Prilosec on hand! I also am a sucker for cheesy grits, or grits of just about any hue. These were sticky and thick… just the way I like ‘em! The cheese wasn’t over powering and added just the right amount of savory. Included were two eggs, any style. I went with scrambled. Perhaps next time I’ll get them poached or over medium. Sauteed onions, roasted red peppers, shrimp, tomatoes, and hot links (I got these on the side) completed the dish. This was also extremely filling, but luckily reheats very well, which was good because I ate these grits for a couple of (glorious) days!

Cheesy Grits

Overall, Tuli is an excellent place to go for a great, comfortable meal. They serve lunch and dinner, and brunch on Sundays. It’s pretty affordable, but if it is out of your price range, they do participate in Sacramento Dine Downtown Week if you’d like to take advantage of that.

Adam also does catering for parties of any size, so keep that in mind when you’re looking for someone to feed your group!

Bottom line, Tuli is one of my favorites… a fabulous place to go when I just feel like going out.

Overall: 4.5/5

Price: $$$/5

Ambience: 4.5/5

Note: They do not take reservations. Open seating at the bar. Lunch served Mon-Fri. Sunday brunch only from 9:30-2:00. Dinner 7 days (starts at 5:00 on Sat and Sun).

http://www.tulibistro.com

1031 S Street (on the corner of 21st and S, across from Rite Aid)
916.451.8854

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tuli-Bistro/151660940269

Tuli Bistro on Urbanspoon

The Porch – Brunch

The Porch – Redux

How did I kick off 2012? With a good ol’ southern style brunch from The Porch.

The first day of 2012 wasn’t just the first day of a new year, it was the first day of brunch for The Porch. Ambitious, right?! Going forward, they will be serving brunch on Sundays.

First off, it was an absolutely gorgeous day. While we chose to sit indoors, when we left, the outside patio (porch) was fully occupied.

There’s no better way to start out the day, and a new year, with a wonderfully presented mimosa! It wasn’t bottomless, which was probably a good thing, but refills are just $3.50.

Kila cava with orange juice

Now came the fun part: the agonizing task of trying of decide what to order. There were several items on the menu that looked fabulous. Which to choose? The vegetarian omelet with mushroom, broccoli, cheese and hollandaise sauce? Or the jambalaya omelet….crawfish and Louisiana red rice and blue crab gravy. Or something simple like grits and eggs? As you can see, the menu isn’t designed for vegetarians, aside from the veggie omelet. After all, this is Southern food, so you have to expect bacon, cheese, and eggs in pretty much everything! However, if you’re pescetarian, you will probably be okay with a few dishes. Plus, you can modify, if need be. However, I might be concerned with cross-contamination. Vegans, stay away! This is NOT the place for you!

The Porch brunch menu

Before bringing out the meal, the chef sent an amuse bouche of bacon infused cornbread muffins with honey and a little bit of a kick. I believe this comes from their jalapeno butter!

Super crabby crab cakes with a lemon and mustard hollandaise sauce, applewood smoked bacon, and potatoes that had a delicate vinegar flavor. This was absolutely delicious. The crab cakes were, well, super crabby! No skimping on the meat in these suckers! The hollandaise sauce was very unique, as were the potatoes. They were actually unlike any standard breakfast potato I’d ever had.

Eggs and biscuit, with The Porch gravy, andouille sausage and house potatoes.

I like to do it my own way… Okay, so this is how I’m like a “Sally”: If they don’t have a dish I like, I make my own! Side of cheesy grits, with biscuits and blue crab gravy. The grits were really authentic. I could feel and see the corn kernels. They make them savory, and I don’t know if they have a sweet option. As for the biscuits and gravy? Holy shmoley these were good. Three huge biscuits and a crock of gravy that was so full of bad stuff, it almost turned healthy. I was eating these for three days! The gravy is almost reminiscent of some kind of amazing, ridiculously thick chowder, minus the potatoes. It’s delicately seasoned, so as not to overpower the crab flavor, with an amazing texture that worked awesome with the crunchy exterior of the biscuits.

Because he is such a fan and wanted to share them, the server brought out ramekins of their apple blueberry jam and huckleberry jam for the biscuits. I really liked the huckleberry jam, but I said, screw the fruit, gimme the fat! Both jams are made in house. They try to do pretty much everything on the premises and are very adamant about sourcing their meats and produce from local purveyors. In fact, the server whipped out his cheat sheet to tell me the exact name and location of where they get their pork, chicken, beef, and anything else I might be wondering about.

Some of the items on the brunch menu are also on their lunch/dinner menu, like the Porch Burger, Seafood Cobb Salad, and Shrimp and Grits. Just like with dinner, it’s likely you will get two meals out of this!

If you’re looking for a fun place for brunch, check it out. It’s not someplace I would regularly visit, just because it is a tad pricey and the food is a bit too rich for me (insert: fattening!), but it’s super tasty and fun for special treat.

http://www.theporchsacramento.com/index.html

The Porch on Urbanspoon