THE LATEST SCOOP
Keeping you informed of local food and drink news.
WRITTEN BY FRANK DOMPE
ILLUSTRATION BY GREG BRADY
Welcome to edible Sacramento’s Edible Updates column. Here, we share the latest news from our area’s restaurants and food purveyors, updates from regional agricultural producers, and more details about our burgeoning food-and-drink scene.
Spring is the season of revival, and this year it heralds the rebirth of many old favorites. Seven years ago, Phoebe and Patrick Celestin closed the Caribbean-Creole restaurant that bore their name. Now the couple is reopening Celestin's in East Sacramento with the help of business partners Rijindar Bains and Rafer Chambers. The McKinley Boulevard location aims to bring a bigger range of flavors to a somewhat smaller space. A new variety of traditional Haitian recipes such as meat pies and marinated salt cod will augment dishes including the well-remembered gumbo, fried plantains, and jerk chicken.
Celestin's sweet potato fries
A bakery so nice, it's coming back twice? That seems to be the case with Estelle Bakery & Pâtisserie. Downtown has been without the French confections and light lunches once served at Estelle's Pâtisserie, but the venture has reopened on Arden Way near Fulton, with another location set for the Downtown Commons area around the Golden 1 Center. The pastries, cakes, and sandwiches will be familiar to patrons of the old K Street location, and, yes, cronuts are here.
Just across the street from the north steps of the Capitol, a restaurateur who prefers to remain unnamed is renovating the space that once was the Chops steak and seafood establishment. The new eatery will occupy a similar niche in the city's restaurant scene — a steakhouse open to the public on the ground floor and a lower level reserved for private events. It's a layout that's ideally suited to the previous occupant's clientele of legislators, lobbyists, and others engaged in state business.
Recently shuttered, The Distillery in Midtown is reopening as Costanza's, a sports bar with a new locally sourced menu by longtime chef Pedro Hernandez. Patrons will be able to pour their own beers from more than a dozen taps, catch a shuttle to nearby stadiums, and relax out front on a planned sidewalk patio where dogs are welcome.
Speaking of spirits, Gold River Distillery in Rancho Cordova has introduced Wheel House Malted Rice Whiskey, made with grain from the Rice Experiment Station in the Yuba City area. Available in its tasting room, a limited quantity of the first barrels' bottling can be found alongside the company's award-winning vodka and gin, as well as an absinthe crafted with a blend of botanicals such as lavender and spearmint.
Red Bus Brewing Co. is bringing the area's beer boom to Folsom, which has long been without a microbrewery of its own. A 1960s VW bus serves as a mascot, and the libations on tap follow the theme with names such as Volksbier, TransPorter, and Westy Coast Red. Owner Erik Schmid opened Red Bus next to another venture of his, The Brewmeister, which has provided the region with supplies for home beer and wine making for many years.
Erik Schmid, owner of Red Bus Brewing Co.
The revitalization of Del Paso Boulevard continues with swanky new digs for King Cong Brewing Co. in North Sacramento. Basic pub food — including pizzas with beer baked into the crusts — complements its balanced pale ales, red ale, and milk stout. Owner Cong Nguyen fell in love with his craft and devoted himself to it by enrolling in UC Davis' Master Brewers Program, and King Cong does a great job of showcasing the results of that journey.
Sacramento's Camellia Coffee finally will have a café, but not where you might think. Robert Watson and former Old Soul roaster Ryan Harden plan to retain their yet-to-open 12th Street facility in the La Valentina building along the light rail line coming into town, but they found an opportunity to take over the spot recently occupied by Metro Kitchen + Drinkery in the Warehouse Artist Lofts on R Street. The company roasts its beans to achieve flavors that are accessible and comforting rather than challenging and novel. Those roasts have been embraced throughout the area, showing up in well-regarded restaurants, bars, and even beers made by Sacramento's own Ruhstaller, and now they have a home of their own.
At the time of this writing, Hank Shaw's latest cookbook Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail is the No. 1 new release in its category on Amazon.com. Shaw's dedication to the pursuits of hunting and gathering provides a direct and inquisitive perspective on the edible possibilities around us, from mule deer to the daylilies in front of your dentist's office. Shaw takes a close look at how anyone can make a delicious meal without the aid of a supermarket. Shaw's North American book tour only has three stops scheduled near his home turf: March 29 in Roseville, April 6 in West Sacramento, and May 17 in San Francisco. For details, visit Honest-food.net.
A recent attempt to revamp a midtown soul food landmark proved a bit flat-footed: The Johnson family, owners of Sandra Dee's Bar-B-Que & Seafood, rejected radical changes made for an episode of Gordon Ramsay's 24 Hours to Hell & Back, set for summer release on FOX. In their short time there, the famously caustic TV personality and his crew pared the extensive menu down to a few items and redecorated the interior in relatively Spartan fashion. Now that the cameras have gone, tri-tip, hot links, and gator tails have returned to the menu, and the photo wall featuring signed pictures of celebrity visitors is expected to live on in the form of a digital slideshow.
Sometimes the oldies remain goodies, and it's good to see a struggling but proven concept get a new lease on life. For those who miss recently departed standbys such as breakfasts at Lucky Cafe, the pies made by Hot City Pizza, or French steak burgers from Nationwide Freezer Meats, remembering that recipes are made to be reproduced warms the soul a bit.
Frank Dompe is a freelance writer and former McClatchy Co. editor with a longtime interest in cooking and coffee. He lives and works in Sacramento's Alkali Flat neighborhood.