Review: 36 Handles

New name, new owner for the old Kinee O’Reilly pub in the Montano plaza in El Dorado Hills.  Richard Righton, who also owns Relish Burger (in the same plaza) and Bidwell Street Bistro (another favorite of mine), will hopefully bring some of his magic to this restaurant!  

Opening day could not have been more British…gray gloomy day, non-stop drizzle, cold, perfect pub-going weather.  The pub is beautiful…­perfectly decorated by the former owners, careful and authentic details from Ireland, split up into several areas, just like back home.  Only jarring feature: the lights were too bright…I like pub lighting to be a little subdued, helps the sozzled patrons from hurting their eyes 😉  

The usual opening day/night awkwardness from the servers, but nothing that won’t get worked out, I’m sure.  Justin, the manager, seems very competent, and personable.  I particularly liked how the servers had on british sports jerseys, a nice touch.  (Side note: why are most wait staff so damn attractive? Oh, right.  So that we go back…)

My friend had a salad and I had the fish and chips.  Biggest damn pieces of fish I’ve ever seen served in a fish/chip order.  Tasty, but the chips were a bit limp, which actually makes it authentic for me 😉  Tried the cider, not a fan.  Will have to stick to Newcastle ale…  Would like to see more authentic pub fare (chicken tikka masala, Richard!) instead of the California-like food.  If I want BJs or Bennigans, I’ll go to BJs or Bennigans.  Also hope they open for breakfast soon…and become my local Fox and Goose!!

After dinner, we went over to the darts area (surprisingly empty) and played for a while.  Was a little surprised that no one else wandered over to watch or join us…very un-pub like.  May be the suburban angst?  Hopefully, that will loosen up..

The place was full the entire time we were there, but not crowded, and the atmosphere was quiet, but the weather may have had something to do with it.  The guests had that awkward, first-time-at-a-­restaurant look about them, but that should dissipate soon.

36 Handles
1010 White Rock Rd
El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
(916) 941-3606

Review: Naked Lounge

After seeing so many reviewers talk about the amazing “Bowl of Soul” at the Naked Lounge, I added the place to my bookmarks.  So when my friend tossed out Naked Lounge as an option to finish up the evening, I jumped at the chance.  Bright and cheery place, on the corner of 15th and Q.  The large windows along the street sides frame a vision of a cozy, warm, eclectic, and welcoming family room in someone’s home…and guess what, you get to go in!  Lots of seating…worn (read: comfortable) couches, small tables and chairs, benches along the windows, but it doesn’t seem crowded.  And people are open to being asked to scoot in, or borrow a chair, without giving you a put-upon glare.  The art on the walls are seemingly randomly selected, but they all work together.  The place has a mix of people hanging out: couples, friends, loners on their laptops.  

Lots of drink options on the board, but my eyes make a beeline for the top drink and I don’t move down the list.  I am having the Bowl of Soul.  But then I look at the ingredients, and I gag slightly.  Chamomile tea?  Heresy.  I can’t drink Chamomile tea!  Then to make it worse, soy milk.  Gag me some more.  The honey and dusting of ibarra chocolate redeem the whole thing.  Slightly.  Can I do this, I ask myself?  If I don’t do it now, I won’t ever come back.  And in the grand scheme of things, what’s choking down one chamomile tea/soy milk concoction going to really do to me.  Nothing.  Nothing at all.

So I gather up my courage, cross the rubicon, and order the damn drink.

We find a table and while our time away, looking through my friend’s instagram pics.  And then it arrives.  A really tall cup with a skewered tea bag resting on the top of a thick head of (soy!) foam, with a stylish chocolate heart dusted over it all.

I nonchalantly let it sit there…cooling…don’t want to burn my tongue, I’m sure it’s really hot.  Finally, I can’t stall any longer.  I take a tentative sip.  And then another more assured one…and yeah, okay, it’s not bad.  

It’s not bad at all.  In fact, it’s flipping AWESOME!  I love it.  Really.  

I drank chamomile tea with soy milk and I liked it.  A LOT.

 
Naked Lounge
1500 Q St
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 442-0174

Review: Capital Beer and Tap Room

Full disclaimer: I am not a beer drinker.  I know very little about beer except for the fact that I don’t like the ones that look like piss and have lite in their name, and I tend to like the ones that are smooth and dark and full-bodied.  
 
I was invited to go to the Capitol Beer and Tap last night by a friend who is ALL BEER ALL THE TIME.  His yelp quote is “I’ll have the IPA.”  His profile pics on yelp and Facebook generally show him drinking a beer or making beer.  Yeah, that’s right, he makes beer.  Out of his house.  Every month, because he needs to keep his supply coming.  He brews 50 bottles worth.  I told him he should say he makes boutique beers.  Sounds far better than some of the alternatives I was thinking (considering he stores the beer making thingy in the spare bathroom.  See earlier comment about beer that looks like piss.)Why wax rhapsodical about my friend, you ask?  Isn’t this a review about Capitol Beer and Tap?  Why yes, yes it is.  However, I wanted to provide an offset to my disclaimer about my inexperience with beer, with my friend’s obsessive immersion in the stuff.  See, now it all makes sense, doesn’t it?

Okay.  So I had to circle the block (or triangle) of Howe/University/Fair Oaks a couple times looking for parking and finally scored with one right out front.  The place is set back from the front of the buildings, tucked away on the side, but you can’t miss the frenetic energy you sense almost immediately as you approach the patio.  The place is packed with men between the ages of 24 and 60.  Score.  Wait, I’m here for the beer.

I entered the place and it looks like I entered the wrong place, initially.  I was expecting to be dumped right into a bar/pub area but instead I was greeted by a small grocery store looking place, walls lined with refrigerators and shelves showcasing beers from all over.  I quickly walked through to the back, where I saw the crowds of people.  Seriously, ladies, you have no idea.  Don’t hang out at Fats or Sienna or even Bandera next door… Capitol Beer and Tap is where all the men are!  I saw maybe three women guests, and maybe 3 to 4 female servers.  That was it.

Anyway,  Found my friend quickly, tucked away in a prime corner spot with his bud (who deserves a review of his own.  Really.  He’s a golf blogger.  Oh the stories that are just waiting to be unearthed.)  My friend was already pretty happy after having been there since 5pm, and was insistent that I try the beer he had, and what he called the “elixir of the gods.”  Yes, an India Pale Ale, also known to the beer afficionados as an IPA.  I’m an accountant.  To me, an IPA sounds very close to an IPO, an Initial Public Offering, which makes me sit up and take notice.  This, my friends, would have bombed on opening day in the stock market.  I tried it, and the bitterness settled in the back of my mouth and I couldn’t hide my distaste.  Luckily, my friend, let’s call him R for ease, didn’t take offense and instead asked me what I liked.  So I explained what I said up there in my disclaimer.  He was able to translate that into a glass of a pretty awesome Obovoid (by the Boulder Brewing Company.)  Dark, nitro enhanced creamy head, delicious.  Now we’re talking!  Quickly realized that the place doesn’t serve food, but you can order in food from Tokyo Fro’s next door.  Pretty accommodating.

Oh…I forgot to mention why I was even dragged over there…for the Knee Deep Tap Takeover.  Something I knew nothing about until two days earlier, when R explained it to me: when a local brewery brings several of their beers and “takes over” the taps at the pub, and then the pub is swarming with beery men salivating for a taste of the manna from heaven.  Or something like that.

The place had a great energy, lots of conversations going on, happy, excited, unrestrained.  So this is what its like when women aren’t around.  Interesting.  The counter ran along the entire length of one wall, but the bar only came to half the distance…looked a little awkward to me, but the patrons had enough to look at on the wall…lots of little framed chalkboards with great drawings by one of the servers…who draws tributes to the beer being highlighted at the moment.  Not bad, supporting the arts…I am liking this place more and more!

I stayed for little over an hour, good conversations with my friends, a lot of beer knowledge was imparted (in one direction, to me, the novice) and then I headed off to midtown to meet another group at the Pour House.  From beer to whiskey.  That’s the life.

I will definitely be back.  And I’m not sure if I will bring my girlfriends with me.  Kinda want to keep this all to myself and my guy friends.  Selfish?  Maybe.

 
Capital Beer and Tap Room
2222 Fair Oaks Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95825
(916) 922-1745