Written by: Joshua MacAran
Many praise San Francisco’s gourmet restaurants, but few know of Sacramento‘s deeply rooted farm to fork restaurant culture. Let’s take a glance at the local slow food scene.
Our first stop is Mulvaney’s Building & Loan. Mulvaney’s is tucked away in a historic brick firehouse in midtown Sacramento. You might not realize it’s a restaurant until you peer inside and notice the mahogany chairs, lilies in vases decorating white clothed tables, and a throng of happy customers enjoying dishes such as Braised Martin Emigh Ranch Leg of Lamb with Mint Salsa Verde or 28 Day Dry Aged Niman Ranch Rib Eye with Huckleberry Jus. Mulvaney’s is owned by passionate locavore and chef extraordinaire Patrick Mulvaney. Mr. Mulvaney has combined the highest degree of fine dining expertise with a firm commitment to using organic produce from local farms and organic meat from local ranches. Mulvaney’s boasts a menu that changes every day to reflect what is available in the region. His excellent service, top tier food, and commitment to locavorism has garnered a wide following in the Sacramento region.
Our next stop is anything but a hole in the wall, but you’ll find no sign out front. Nonetheless The Kitcen is packed every night, with reservations booked for the next six months or longer. The Kitchen is no ordinary fine dining restaurant. Each dinner is a seven course meal prepared entirely with local organic produce, meat, and seafood (to the tune of $125 per person, plus wine!) . This fall, you’ll find dishes such as Pumpkin Bisque and Oxtail-Duck Confit or Braeburn Apple Pie with Nancy’s Butter-Chocolate Crunch Ice Cream and Apple Fries. Parts of the meal are prepared as you watch, and there is an almost vaudevillian performance by the chefs for your entertainment. You will learn about all of the ingredients and preparation that have gone into your meal while laughing at the wit and antics of head chef Noah Zonca. The Kitchen has been called the French Laundry of Sacramento and it’s no surprise that their dining room is always full.
The last in our trifecta of farm to fork fine dining moguls is Paragary’s Bar & Oven. Paragary’s has been using locally produced ingredients for over 25 years, marking them as a restaurant far ahead of their time. Their wood-burning oven gives their dishes a unique flavor that is difficult to find in fine dining today. Come for the Housemade Butternut Squash Ravioli or the Pan-Seared King Salmon with roasted cauliflower, butternut squash, brussels sprout leaves, and hazelnut salsa verde. Stay for the Warm Valrhona Chocolate Cake with espresso gelato. Enjoy it all on their back patio surrounded by gnarled olive trees, waterfalls, and a massive stone fireplace.
This is just a small sample of the slow food culture Sacramento has to offer. Other local favorite include Magpie Catering, Ella Dining Room and Bar, and the Hot Italian, just to name a few. At a time when more and more people are seeking farm to fork cuisine cooked to perfection, Sacramento is at the forefront of the movement.