We enjoyed a leisurely drive down Interstate 5, stopping for the night in Red Bluff, California (where we indulged in a King Arthur Supreme Pizza from the friendly crew at Round Table Pizza).
Although we were heading directly south for Sacramento, we decided on the fly to veer west for Winters, and the Putah Creek Café. We arrived in Winters and enjoyed taking in the beautiful downtown area and finding a place to park.
It was late morning and we didn’t know if we were in the mood for a late breakfast or an early lunch. We walked in to the Putah Creek Café and got a nice booth along the front. The place is gorgeous inside, very inviting, tastefully decorated, and has a very large dining room adjacent to the booths in front. Our waitress was friendly and answered all of our questions about Winters and the Putah Creek Café. She was obviously very proud and we could see why.
As for the meal question, it turns out that Tuesday is their buy one get one free burger special, which turned the question into a no-brainer for us (which is a good thing when you’re on the road). We ordered a California Burger, which included jack cheese and avocado; and our second pick was a chili-size with the house made chili con carne. We were hungry and both burgers hit the spot. The fries and rings were good too. In addition to all the good food and great service, they also have an old world style pizza oven out front (it’s mobile). If I remember right, our waitress said they fire that up once a week or so and make some wood fired pizzas. Winters may be a small little town, but the people who live there will not have to worry about finding a good place to eat. There’s also a famous steak house across the street. Winters is a little out of the way, but we’re glad we made the trip; and give the Putah Creek Café our highest recommendation.
After lunch we explored Winters on foot and stretched our legs. We drove the rest of the way into Sacramento and found a room. After a leisurely afternoon and a dip in the pool, we headed over for dinner at Dad’s Kitchen. We had to wait quite a while to get a table, and then we ended up getting upset with the service. We walked out. The manager was friendly, and we told him we would come back if we had the time. I don’t want to knock Dad’s Kitchen, but we wasted nearly an hour of our time there. I’m sure the food would have been good, but, I just don’t have any patience for bad service. I’m sure if we would have made it back, the manager would have made sure we got good service, but we just didn’t have time to make it back.
We headed over to the Golden Bear and got a table on the front porch. The bartender was happy to explain to us that the place really is a dive, and to just grab whatever seats we could find. The place was packed with locals, and noisy. We ordered some tacos and the grilled cheese sandwich special. The food was excellent, and everyone seemed to be having a great time. The staff was friendly, and it looks like a great local spot to go for drinks and good times (especially if you’re into dives).
We started the next day with an early lunch at Cafe Rolle. If you’ve seen this segment, then you know that the chef/owner, William Rolle, has the most infectious French accent. I’ve worked with and met a few chefs who have trained in France, but I’ve never met a chef who is actually from France. I was looking forward to the authentic French experience. Anna has been to France, but I have not as yet had the pleasure. Let me confess up front, I made the mistake of not ordering the Chicken & Goat Cheese Pate (which was featured on the show). I will not be repeating that mistake next time I get to Sacramento.
We were hungry and we each ordered sandwiches, with side salads. Anna ordered the Croque Monsieur, which is a combination of warm ham, melted Gruyere and herb mayonnaise on a delectable and crunchy baguette. As good as it looks in the picture, it tasted even better. I ordered a similar sandwich called Stacy’s Favorite. I don’t know who Stacy is but I’d like to meet her. The sandwich killed. It was a combination of succulent roast beef, melted brie, caramelized onions, and garlic aioli. Yeah, crazy good. Just like Anna’s, the picture doesn’t begin to do it justice. I don’t pretend to be an expert on French food, but I imagine these sandwiches are the finest of their kind, and certainly as good as you’d find anywhere on this side of the Atlantic. Chef William offers cooking classes as well, and I bet they’re a lot of fun.
We beat the lunch rush, and there was a line starting that probably lasts for hours. The window to the kitchen is open to the dining room and we could watch Chef William working the whole time we were there. It was as if he could look up in a glance and take everything in all at once. He came out of the kitchen on occasion and helped work the dining room. Serving, bussing, greeting. We got to meet him, and he was a delightful man to talk to. I would have loved to talk to him some more, but it was obvious that he was slammed (which I’d bet he loves). We hated to leave or rush out, but wanted to free up our table as soon as we could. I’m looking forward to going back. They don’t bake their baguettes in house, but they have them especially made for them at a local bakery. We would have bought some to take home, but we were still a week out.
If you’re foodies like us, you’ll have to visit Selland’s Market & Café directly across the street. Similar to a Tavola in Boise, Selland’s has an amazing assortment of deli and café selections, a bakery, store, coffee bar, wines, and more. We bought a generous assortment of irresistible cookies to eat later. We were getting spoiled. I just remembered that I sampled their potato salad, and I think it was the best I ever had. Even better than mine (which is pretty darned tasty and nearly perfected).
We knocked around for a few hours and then made our way over to Gatsby’s Diner. We weren’t real hungry, but we were looking forward to sampling the sliders that they made on the show. We got a good table and a friendly waitress. The slider choices were beef, Philly, or beets. We hated to miss out on anything and so we asked if we could get a trio of sliders, one of each. Our waitress went off to the back and out came Jerad Nuttall, chef and co-owner (who was featured on the show).
Not only did Jerad approve our menu request, he cooked it himself, right in front of us. He also treated us to a trio of his house made potato chips (original, ranch and BBQ). The food was great, but what was even better was having a chat with Chef Jared and getting to know his story. He is very impressive, not only with his cooking abilities, but also with his food knowledge. We ended up enjoying Gatsby’s a lot more than we were expecting, and look forward to going back. Gatsby’s gets high marks across the board. Do yourself a favor and arrive very hungry.
After we entertained ourselves for the rest of the day, we headed to Jamie’s Broadway Grill for dinner. We missed the rush and so we didn’t have to wait for a table (although they were still packed). We got a quiet table in the back and our waitress, Mallory, took great care of us. The menu was so impressive, we had a hard time figuring out what to order. I ordered the Garlic Steak (Filet Mignon) Sandwich which was featured on the show and Anna ordered the Reuben with the house corned beef. Everything there is made from scratch. Guy said the steak sandwich was so good, he didn’t know what to say.
By the time our food arrived, we were just giddy with anticipation. The steak sandwich was super tender and a pure delight, especially if you love the flavor of roasted garlic. It had excellent flavor and texture, and the kicker was the rolls which were moist and savory with a hint of the garlic. I was so busy enjoying my food that I didn’t give much thought to Anna’s Reuben. I knew we would sample each other’s food, but I wasn’t expecting the Reuben to be anything out of the ordinary. Well, let me tell you how wrong I was about that. I took one bite of that Reuben and I was astounded that a sandwich could taste that good. It was one of those rare OMG moments (like the recent one at Waddell’s). I was lucky that the sandwich was too big for Anna to eat by herself. Not only is it the best Reuben I’ve ever eaten, it’s massive; with big manly size hunks of succulent corned beef heaven. Let’s not forget the fries, which tasted as good as they look. Perfectly GBD.
The Reuben at Lucky’s Café in Cleveland is a 100% scratch made exquisite work of art. I was sure that I would never have a Reuben that good anywhere else. I’m glad I didn’t bet money on it because I would have lost. It would be fun to see Jamie and Heather go head to head. It could be that Heather’s is just as tasty, but Jamie’s has bigger pieces of corned beef and more of it. I don’t mean to come across as a snob, but when you’ve had Reuben sandwiches this good, you just can’t go back to ordinary. I’ve started corning my own beef at home, but it’s hard to even get a good brisket to start with.
I have no doubt that all of the food at Jamie’s Broadway Grill is top quality and completely original. I can’t wait to go back. Now that I know how good the food is at Jamie’s, I’ll be hanging around for a few days next time so I can sample more of his dishes. Jamie’s was our last DDD stop in Sacramento and we took off the next morning for Berkeley.
Next DDD Destination: Berkeley (DDD count: 179)
Update: January 2014
Anna and I made another trip up to Sacramento (with Jamie’s Broadway Grill in our sights). We stopped at Giusti’s in Walnut Grove on our way up. The atmosphere was welcome and friendly, the service was great, the wine was flowing, and the food was delicious. We started with the Minestrone soup that was featured on DDD (served family style). It was the only time I can recall Guy having two bowls of anything. We ordered the meatloaf sandwich for Anna and I was torn between the fried pork chop and their specialty fried veal cutlet. No problem, they offer a split plate with half serving of each.
I enjoyed my duo of meats and the hearty serving of polenta (which I shared with Anna). The meatloaf was nicely done. Hot, moist, tender, and flavorful. I couldn’t quite put my finger on the main flavor profile, but I can tell you I liked it and would be happy to order it again. Anna liked it too. Giusti’s may be a little off the beaten path, but it’s been there in the same family for over 100 years and that may be because they’re doing it right. Two thumbs up from us. Visiting Giusti’s brings our DDD count up to 262 places and we hope to make a big trip to the bay area soon. Stay tuned.
I revisited Cafe Rolle and corrected my mistake of not ordering the Chicken Pate. It was quite tasty, served with a delicious demi loaf of french bread, cornichons, and whole grain mustard. I also re-ordered the Stacy sandwich and it was even better than I remembered it; with tender herbaceous roast beef, creamy melted brie, caramelized onions, aioli and gently grilled. Anna couldn’t visit and I thought about saving her a piece. That’s about as far as got… just thinking about it. I ate every crumb of that sandwich and even thought about licking the plate. But, I got Anna a couple of irresistible cookies from the great little place across the street (Selland’s). They were well received. I asked Chef William who Stacy is and it turns out to be his wife. Lovely. Chef William gave me information about his private cooking classes and I would definitely take him up on that if I lived in the area.
We arrived with bells on at Jamie’s Broadway Grill and before the weekend was over I made three trips. We had such a good time I decided to write it up as a special feature which you can read all about right here.