Dinner – June 15, 2011
Ms. LP is one of my dearest friends and one of the few friends from college that I’ve managed to stay in touch with. Though we both lead busy lives and only see each other about twice a year, we always have a great time catching up.. and it’s usually over some delicious grub and of course a few good cocktails. This time we headed over to House Kitchen and Bar, as I had a Groupon there that was expiring. I’ve been meaning to try this restaurant out for some time, but it’s not always easy to plan a trip downtown so I had put it off for a whole year.
After dinner that night I wish I had gone sooner.
House Kitchen and Bar, which specializes in American comfort food, is located by Capitol Mall in Downtown Sacramento. We went on a Thursday evening around 8pm and had no problems finding parking. The restaurant is located at the ground floor of a nondescript building and I was pleasantly surprised at how the space was decidedly contemporary yet both upscale and casual at the same time. The gigantic metal sculpture of a whisk resting on top of a wall was a nice touch.
We opted to sit outside as the weather was actually pleasant that evening. Our server, Chris, was gracious enough to grant us a round of drinks and appetizers at Happy Hour prices even though we had just missed Happy Hour. I had a Ripened Raspberry Icepick and LP ordered the Tryst on the Beach. My icepick came in one of those mugs that they use for strawberry lemonade. Actually it tasted very much like an alcoholic berry lemonade, which went well with my whole meal. As usual, LP and I usually talk and talk and talk and talk, so it always takes us a long time to pore over the menu. Thankfully we had an attentive waiter, who checked on us from time to time, otherwise we would have taken even longer.
For our appetizers we picked the Sweet corn tamale cakes and 5 cheese mac and cheese. The tamale cakes were drizzled with a spicy green sauce, corn salsa and sour cream. We easily devoured the wonderfully moist little cakes.
The mac and cheese was also a winner. I wish I could have smuggled the recipe. It was the perfect consistency.. not too runny or dry, and it wasn’t too salty either, considering they had five different cheese in there (not sure which five cheeses, but I took their word for it).
For our entrees LP chose the Black bean burger and I had to get the Braised beef short ribs, as our waiter highly recommended it and I always have a soft spot for short ribs. When the entrees came I made the comment that LP forgot to ask for sweet potato fries (we were just talking about how we both liked them).. and immediately our server Chris offered to bring us a serving of sweet potato fries. The service we got that night, needless to say, was excellent.
As LP is semi-vegetarian, I can see why she ordered the black bean burger. And I appreciate that she doesn’t mind me chowing down on red meat right in front of her. The short ribs as promised, were so tender that I did not need a knife. I wasn’t too thrilled with the presentation of three huge chunks of meat around a scoop of parmesan smashed potatoes. But I suppose they had to leave the meat in huge chunks to prove that a knife was not needed. The short ribs were not only tender but along with the demi-glace it tasted pretty damn good. We were so stuffed that I had to take my leftovers to go and sadly had no room for dessert. I kid you not, our server mentioned something about a “bacon creme brulee” special and the thought of that was both intriguing and appalling. Perhaps another night.
I think we definitely ordered the right items off the House menu so I would like to come back another time and give other menu items a try. Now, having grown up in a different continent, I don’t consider myself an expert on American comfort food… however, I do understand the concept of what comfort food should be. For me, comfort food is simple, honest food that takes you back to the fondest memories of your family, your childhood or whatever thoughts give you that warm fuzzy feeling of contentment. I know I only had one drink, so the warm fuzzy feeling I had that night must have been from the wonderful, memorable food.. and of course, the simple pleasure of meeting a dear old friend over dinner.