Restaurant Review: Nixtaco

Quick tip: Room for improvement!

Seeing the writeup in the Sactown magazine right before lunch today, I grabbed the bf and headed over. It’s a couple of minutes from work and so I was thrilled to have a good street taco spot nearby.

On the corner of Cirby and Rocky Ridge, the space is large and airy, typical strip mall style floor to ceiling windows all around, no real decor to speak of (yet, I’m sure), and a sparse menu. They had a soft opening on June 1, and have recently opened up to the public. We walked up to the counter to order, and the lady (I’m presuming she’s the owner, she was very sweet) pointed out some of the new items on the menu and their extensive beer list. We ordered an assortment of tacos, and I was looking forward to the shrimp one. Sadly, it arrived with bacon all over it (the menu did not mention bacon), and I was later told it was cooked in bacon fat as well. The owner brought over another veggie taco, on the house.

The bf really liked the chicken with mole, and (my) shrimp and bacon with queso taco. He wasn’t impressed with the shredded pork or the other pork (prepared differently) taco. The veggie tacos were okay, loaded with sweet corn and wilted greens. The guacamole was too lime/lemony for our taste, and the four salsas were nondescript.

They are still working out the kinks (as the nice lady behind the counter admitted), and I hope they do well. Unless they add a few more veggie options, and prepare their seafood tacos without other animal products, I don’t think I will be back.

1805 Cirby Way
Roseville, CA 95661

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Restaurant Review: Little Goan Indian Cafe

Quick tip: go for the naan. As a takeout order. Which you call in two hours before you need it. That’s about it.

The service is ridiculously slow. Two servers on a Friday night, especially when they ask you if you have reservations, is a sign of poor planning. We waited 15 minutes for water, and decided to order at the same time since we weren’t sure if we’d get another chance.

Sitting by the door to the back office/restrooms, etc. was definitely an experience. There was a one way mirror on the wall, through which we could see the spooky shadows of two to three kids slowly beating each other up; bodies would slam into the wall, we’d hear the rhythmic thumping of a body part getting hit, feet would slam into the glass, then slowly slide their way down, heads would bob eerily then get choked out of sight…it was like an odd shadow play of a reality show.

That was probably all meant to keep us in our seats, and overlook the extreme delay in food. My poor niece kept asking when her dish was arriving.

The food: samosas were bland. Tandoori paneer in a green pesto was bland. We doused everything in the two ubiquitous chutneys, which oddly, we had to ask for (which then, I see now, does NOT make them ubiquitous). The xacuti dishes were bland and we had to add liberal pinches of salt…see a pattern here?

The only thing I went back for seconds on was the naan. Hence my quick tip. For a slow order.

I will not be returning.

2007 Novato Blvd
Novato, CA 94947

Venue Review: Bows and Arrows

It is hard to categorize this place, which is why I titled this piece “Venue Review.”

An odd concept: clothing (some new, some consignment) for sale up front, the a large empty space (for performances), local artist endeavors on the walls, a lounge/cafe selling some alcohol, soups, salads, sandwiches, and then an adorable patio out back.  It all seems oddly disjointed, and I never feel quite comfortable enough when I go there.

I’ve attended a couple of events there over the past few months, most recently to watch a friend’s husband’s trio perform.  It seems to be a popular space for local writing groups or performance artists to use for their events, and I look forward to attending more events there in the future.

1815 19th St
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 822-5668

Restaurant Review: Seasons 52

I recently attended a low-key, understated, yet elegant affair hosted by Yelp at Seasons 52 to welcome in the Fall food selections on their seasonally-changing menu.  It was such a treat to be able to mingle with the other elite members, have conversations that lasted beyond a quick hello, and to not have to defend myself from flying elbows and spilled drinks.  Keeping the guests to 70 or so elites made this a relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable event, one that helped showcase the beautiful and intimate banquet room we were in.  Wood paneling, rich shades in the carpeting, wood, and muted decorations all made it feel very elegant.  The floor to ceiling windows were left open; though we could see the mall shoppers walk by and look in, it still managed to keep the setting elegant…nicely done, Seasons 52.

I was very impressed, as before, by their knowledgeable and approachable staff, some of whom I remember from prior visits: Michael (serving up the amazing Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli with pesto) and Mingo (clearing the plates and helping out in general).  Passed appetizers included flat-breads (Garlic Pesto Chicken, Trio of Mushroom, Artichoke & Goat Cheese, Blackened Steak & Blue Cheese), Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms (delicious), Tuna Tartare Sushi Rolls, Braised Beef Crostini and Cider Glazed Chicken Skewers.  I enjoyed the Macedon Pinot and made a note of the Viognier, one of my favorite types of wine.

1689 Arden Way
Sacramento, CA 95815

Restaurant Review: Monsoon Cuisine of India

I have eaten at some great Indian-fusion restaurants in large cities (Manhattan, the SF bay area, Chicago, etc.) and was excited that Monsoon touted itself as one.  I have been there a few times, twice for dinner and twice for their late night happy hour.  I prefer the dinner seating…service is friendly and quick, and the wait staff are pleasant.  The late night happy hour lacks the same friendliness: the bartenders tend to keep to themselves or talk to one of their friends, and the customers are mostly inebrieated and look at me as an easy mark when I walk in, not an appealing atmosphere.

The food is good…I used a groupon the first time I went, and the server pointed me to a couple of entrees on the menu that she recommended as being a good value for the groupon.  She was very helpful in deciphering some of the complicated-sounding cocktails on the menu as well.  Some of those drinks are no longer being served, more’s the pity.

Samosas are delicious, as are the chaat masala-dusted fries, and my friend loved the tamarind wings.

1020 16th St
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 469-9999

Restaurant Review: Paesano’s

Bocci Balls are delicious. If I had eaten a couple of orders of that and had a second Island Girl Martini, I would have walked away thinking the place was divine.

Regretfully, we had the above while we waited for our to-go order: the kids’ meals: mac and cheese (boring, flavorless, odd yellow color) and the pepperoni pizza (small, doughy, meh). My risotto looked and smelled wonderful…tasted like they had salted it once, and then salted it again. I was so disappointed…choked down a couple spoonfuls and then had to run for water. The garlic bread that accompanied the mac and cheese and my risotto was completely lacking the garlic. Which I know they have plenty of, since the Bocci Balls were soaking in the stuff.

I was expecting a lot better for the price…the service was great, the ambiance was fine, the kids felt welcomed, but in the end, the food is what makes you want to return. May try the happy hour at the midtown location (for the Bocci Balls) and give the chain another try.

8519 Bond Rd
Elk Grove, CA 95624
(916) 690-8646

Review: Downtown & Vine

This little wine bar occupies a beautiful space in the pedestrian mall area of K street downtown.  This is a welcome addition to the area, a perfect spot to grab a drink before a movie at the IMAX across the way.  There is a parking garage right next door, so if you don’t grab street parking, you still don’t have far to walk (the garage is spendy…for 2 hours, I paid $14).I attended the Yelp Wine tasting event here last night, with a large group of people.  Good mix of wine connoisseurs and relative newbies; we all got great treatment from the staff.  Gregg, the owner, went over his and Kate’s reasons for selecting their business, as well as why they chose the various wine regions they represent in their collection.  

We were given pours of the following:
2008 Iron Horse Classic Brut sparkling wine (Sonoma).  Did you know that Iron Horse is the wine of choice for American Presidents to serve to visiting dignitaries?  No?  Read more about that here…I was very impressed by the wine, by the way.  http://inside-sonoma.com…
2011 Neyers Chardonnay Carneros)
2010 De Loach Pinot Noir (Green Valley)
2010 Dillian Barbera (Plymouth, Amador County)
2008 Michael Mondavi Family Emblem “Oso” Cabernet Sauvignon

They also gave us little bites of bread, cheese and meat to augment the wine tasting experience.  Delicious.

I was torn between the De Loach Pinot and the Dillian Barbera, but in the end, the Barbera won (I love Barberas, what can I say!)  We also got a 15% yelp check-in discount.

The wine bar is not that large, but the owners have done a great job of making it look spacious: light woods, beautiful white armchairs in little groupings, a long bar along the left as you walk into the main room, a glassed-in room towards the back…all make for interesting vignettes and keep your eye moving around the space.

I look forward to visiting this place again!

Downtown & Vine
1200 K St
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 228-4518