California, Here We Come!

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Filet Mignon
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/15 15:01:14
Will do, Cliff.  Glad you enjoyed the donuts.  When I told the counter lady that I was sending them with a friend who would be bringing them to even more friends out of state who had never tried them before, she turned around and grabbed two handfuls of donut holes for the box.  Naturally I bought one loose donut for myself as there was no way I'd be able to resist sampling from that box otherwise!
Sorry, to hear about the ice cream at Vic's.  Homemade peppermint stick with home made hot fudge was always a childhood favorite of mine at a couple of local ice cream stands.
I was reading some food articles last night and found out about a butcher shop in Harlem called Harlem Shambles that is hand-making traditional Cornish pasties with beef, turnip, potato, onion and spices.  $3.00 a piece (though I don't know how big they are but a trip uptown just might be in order!!).
post edited by billyboy - 2013/08/20 08:36:54
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/15 17:57:40
OMG - that photo of the glistening hot fudge sauce over ice cream is over the top!
I agree with you on brightly colored ice creams.  Marianne's in Santa Cruz does that, and it's a put-off for me.  (Probably a good thing, now that I think about it!)  But then again, we're talking Santa Cruz, where a "higher" percentage of the population are walking around in a purple haze, anyway.
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 13:07:35
We have a farm around here that makes their own ice cream and I was so excited to try it.  Unfortunately, the ice cream had so much food coloring in, they practically glowed.  Such a disappointment and completely unnecessary.  Oh, and I really like that photo, too.
It is just a matter of time until someone opens up a Cornish pasty themed restaurant in NYC!  I hope you get a chance to try Harlem Shambles.
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 13:41:32
Wednesday April 24th, 2013
The only breakfast place in Sacramento on Roadfood is a place called Pancake Circus.  Okay, right up front,I am not a big fan of the circus and flat out dislike clowns.  So the idea of a circus themed restaurant holds no appeal.  On top of that, TTM ate here a few years ago and did not care for it.  But, this place is a bit of an institution in Sacramento and I am willing to try anyplace once, so here we are.

As feared, the circus/clown theme is everywhere

in the decorating.  Even the front of the menu. 

Well, if you are going to have a terrible theme for a restaurant, you mind as well go all out.
Johnny got us started with a stack of blueberry buckwheat pancakes. 

Certainly can't complain about the amount of fruit on top, they sure don't skimp.  Johnny likes buckwheat pancakes and blueberries, so this was a winning combination for him.  On the side, he got four slices of borderline, overdone strips of bacon.

My meal was the chorizo, which features chorizo sausage mixed in with scrambled eggs,

plus a stack of three regular pancakes.

The pancakes here really aren't anything special, but were elevated by the fact that the syrup is served warm.  The chorizo scrambled eggs was actually quite good, with the sausage having just the right mix of flavor and spice.
We were seated near to the cash register and the owner kept a running conversation with us.  In fact, everyone at Pancake Circus was nice and even a few police officers enjoying their morning meal said hello as they walked by.  This turned out to be a better experience than anticipated.  I'm not going to say this is the best breakfast in Sacramento, but I wouldn't be adverse to returning.
Pancake Circus
2101 Broadway
Sacramento, CA
Much more to come..... 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/16 13:43:55
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 16:31:00
Hey wait a minute TTM joined you for breakfast

(You know we love you TTM)
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 17:50:18
The bacon looks fine to me.
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 18:17:41
That egg/chorizo scramble looked really tasty, but I'd have a hard time digesting with all those clowns looking on!
Filet Mignon
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 21:03:25
Clowns have always been creepy and then John Wayne Gacy went and destroyed any chance of them becoming mainstream!
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 21:45:23
Regarding the painting with the 5 clowns.  I think they are all famous clowns from the 50's and 60's of course I can't remember their names.  But the upper right looks like Red Skeleton.   Anyone else recognize a clown?
Boy, they don't skimp on the blueberries do they!  
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/16 21:56:29
I think the one on the lower left is Emett Kelly another well-noted performer in that arena.
I am with you Cliff, I probably would pass by the place due to the ambience. Never have been a Circus Fan.
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/17 00:32:37
Whatta Ya Guys talkin' about???
The place was just re-decorated by Chef Robert Irvine of Restaurant Impossible!!!
ann peeples
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/17 07:13:02
I hate clowns. Glad you had a decent breakfast despite them.....
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 08:40:45
Wednesday April 24, 2013 (cont.)
Neither one of us felt particularly full after Pancake Circus, so it was no problem to go straight to another food stop.  This time, it was Jim-Denny's,

a classic downtown burger joint since 1934!  Great neon sign,

that undoubtedly looks better at night.
There are ten stools across the counter,

which leads to one of my favorite things about this place.  Against the far wall is a pay phone,

which is no longer in service.  Do you see that yellow piece of paper that is framed?  It says:  "Jim's rule - If you sit next to the phone, you must answer it take the order or ask them to hold.  Jim Denny's may I help you?  Jim Denny's please hold."  I think it would have been fun to have eaten here back in the day and taken some phone orders.  At least until my burger arrives!  BTW, notice how worn that counter is in that last photo.
Since this was still morning, the other customers were asking for pancakes and omelets.  And Jim-Denny's

is famous for pancakes that take up an entire dinner plate or huge omelets.  We saw one of those omelets go by and it had to be six eggs and along with all the meat and cheese, we were glad we stuck to the burgers.  Here is the burger portion of the menu,

along with the special burger of the day.

We placed our order and killed time soaking in the scenery.  This is a very visually appealing place.  Love those old wooden shelves,

with fancy cheeseburgers and fancy cube steaks painted on it.  After all, what could be fancier than a cube steak?  We could also watch the grill in the corner

and the young lady tending it did a fine job of keeping the burgers, pancakes and omelets coming out at a steady pace.
Johnny's choice was the 50's burger,

which was two patties, swiss cheese on a hoagie bun.  This was a substantial burger and even though Johnny ate the entire thing, I don't have the feeling he thought it was anything more than average.  He said that the fried zucchini on the side had an especially heavy, thick breading.
Mine was the old fashioned burger,

which came with mustard and mayo, along with the standard lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle.  The bun was nicely toasted and the cheddar choice blended nicely with the rest of the toppings, but this still would not make my list of best burgers of the trip.  The sweet potato fries

were extra crispy and came with their special sauce, which seemed to be a thousand islands dressing.
To drink, they do offer a nice roster of milkshakes,

but we decided to pass on the shakes here, with Johnny drinking a Dr. Pepper and I had an iced tea.
Maybe the thing I will remember most about our visit to Jim-Denny's was the young lady we met.  It isn't that often that an attractive young woman sits down and starts talking to us, but she was 23 years old, already had three small kids at home and we suspected, was just looking for some adult conversation.  But since there weren't any adults around, she ended up talking to us.  When we told her we were eating our way around Sacramento, she wrote down some interesting suggestions for us, but we were never able to fit those in.  You know how sometimes you meet someone and they just seem like a lost soul?   
816 12th Street
Sacramento, CA
By this time, we were full and ready to do some sightseeing.
Much more to come.....   
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/19 09:09:18
Filet Mignon
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 10:23:18
The milkshake flavor list is shaped like a Christmas Tree! 
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 11:25:24
Apparently I'm not alone on the dislike of clowns.  Growing up, one buddy's parents had several real creepy clown paintings around the house.  I always tried to avoid going there if possible.
Looking back at that milkshake list, now I am really wishing we tried something.  And isn't is strange to see egg nog in April?
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 11:43:26

Apparently I'm not alone on the dislike of clowns.
I'm wondering what might be painted on the walls inside the bathroom and its stalls.  That would be seriously disturbing!
Too bad Jim-Denny's didn't appeal to you more.  I can almost smell the burgers and onions sizzling on the flattop!
Filet Mignon
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 12:01:10
bb - I was looking at the peach!  Egg Nog in April is strange but I am thinking the list never changes...year around! 
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 13:39:32
Wednesday April 24th, 2013 (cont.)
Old Sacramento

is a living history site with museums and original buildings from the earliest days of the city. 
What I was most interested in seeing was the B.F. Hastings Building,

dating back to 1853.  It would probably look older if it wasn't for the fancy new sportscar parked out front.  Not only was this building the western terminus for the Pony Express, but it also held the California Supreme Court.  Inside is the Wells Fargo History Museum, with some interesting collectables from the Pony Express. 

You know a job is dangerous when they say orphans preferred!
The man working inside the museum was very helpful and did a great job of explaining the displays.  My favorite thing here was this painting,

which has an optical illusion in it.  Whether you stand all the way to the left of the painting or to the right, the man on the white horse seems to be riding directly at you.  Across the street from the museum is an expressive Pony Express statue.

We spent a good 1 1/2 hours walking around and exploring the different buildings, but it was impossible to see everything in a short amount of time.
On my previous visit to Sacramento ten years earlier, I landed in town on the Friday night at had dinner at Al's Place in Locke, CA.  The next morning, Johnny arrived and got to hear me talk about how much I liked the place the rest of the trip.  Today was the day we were finally getting Johnny to Al's!
This has to be one of the most strangest, most unusual Roadfood restaurants.  First of all, they use an alternate name which is Al the Wops

Yeah, not the most progressive name in the world, but they probably won't be changing it anytime soon.  And it is also located in a small town that used to be all Chinese.  The last time I was here the town was rather rundown, but looks much better today.
When you first walk in the door, the front room is a very dark bar,

with money hanging off of the ceiling.  Pass through another door to get to the dining room in the back.  All seating is at long picnic tables.

One of the things Al's is most famous for is the peanut butter and marmalade on the table.  I think it was originally supposed to be homemade peanut butter, but nowadays it is just Jif. 

Luckily, the preserves is a made in house pineapple-apricot preserves and we loved spreading it on the bread.

The menu is two-sided,

but still there isn't a lot of choices.  The meals started with an excellent green salad,

mine with thousand islands, Johnny's with vinegar and oil.  Also on the salad was some carrot, garbanzo and kidney beans, which was a nice touch.
Because of how he had already eaten, Johnny got the soup, salad and bread and the soup was a big bowl of minestrone, 

with lots of potatoes, zucchini and carrots, which we enjoyed.  The best part of both of our meals, was the crunchy garlic bread.
Unfortunately, my lunch was not as successful.  I got the chicken and mushrooms,

which came in a garlic and white wine sauce.  This sure sounds like something I would love to eat, but the chicken itself was hard and too chewy.  This was a little disappointing, but atmosphere like this can make up for a lot.
We were the first customers here, but soon after a few bikers wandered in and then a few more, until the restaurant was filled.  This seems to be a destination restaurant for those on motorcycles, which explains this sign

out front.
Al's Place is still a must-visit destination for anyone in central California.  We loved visit here, even if we did not have a great meal.  Luckily for us, we wouldn't have to wait long to get a great meal!
Al's Place
13936 Main Street
Locke, CA
I am curious what people think about a place calling itself Al the Wops?   
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/19 13:42:30
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 14:02:06
BB:  The place that you visited that served the mega burger for $9.95 was very very reasonable but somewhat confusing was the other burgers which were considerably smaller sold for just a small amount less?  Go figure.
If you used the term "WOP" in the corporate world, your pink slip would be on your desk PDQ.  Political correctness is highly in order.  Never even thought about those issues when I was growing up although my parentage strictly forbid any such language.  Good thing as you know my current situation now.
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 15:20:31
The High Point for me has always been the State Rail Museum located in 'Old Sacramento'. It could keep a visitor interested for days ,if time allowed.
   Please keep up the great report, BB , we are reliving many visits thru this 'look-back'  at history.
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 15:39:58
Wednesday April 24th, 2013 (cont.)
Since we were in this great looking small town, we had to walk around and explore.  Like I said previously, the last time in Locke, the whole town looked rundown, but it is vastly improved.  The streets are still narrow,

which can make parking a bit of an issue.
There is still very much a Chinese influence on the town. 

The street signs

are in both English and Chinese.  There are a couple of Chinese restaurants

that look new, a Chinese art gallery,

even a place that specializes in Chinese medicine. 

My favorite place was a garden

that was well maintained and had some lovely Chinese sculptures in it.

I did go into the general store and bought us a couple bottles of water (this turned out to be the hottest day of the trip) and some beautiful hand painted chopsticks.  While there are some buildings that are in disrepair,

it is obvious that Locke is making a comeback.
We had already eaten too much food on this day, but since we were so close by, we had to stop in at Giusti's

in Walnut Grove.  And as usually happens, we find our best meals when we are at our fullest!  The signs, with the wildlife and the mention of hunters and fishermans paradise should tell you that you are in the middle of nowhere.  
As a matter of fact, we actually drove right past the place at first.  You actually need to turn just before you come to the bridge.

Parking is right next to a small river or canal

and they do have boat docking at Giusti's, though no one was taking advantage of it while we were there.
Once again, the front room is the bar.  Here, they have an amazing amount of ball caps or farmers caps

hanging from the ceiling.  We were seated in the dining room to the left and up a couple of stairs.

This place really has a great Roadfood feel to it.  A quick look at the menu board

and we were ready to order quickly.
The table is actually a map of the local area. 

The place settings starts you off with a bowl with a glass in it,

which struck us as a little different.  But that is because every meals begins with a family style big bowl of minestrone soup,

which the waitress told us was from an old family recipe.  This version had less vegetables than what we ate earlier at Al's, but had lentils.  We both agreed that this was the tastier version.
Johnny's entrée was the lasagna,

which was a ridiculously large portion size.  Johnny described it as having six or seven very thin layers, a mixture of different cheeses and an outstanding homemade red sauce on top.  Although we laughed at the size of it when it was sat down in front of him and said he would never be able to finish it, well, I think you know that he was going to finish something this good.  I went with the salmon dinner. 

The outside had slightly crunchy exterior edges, but the inside was perfectly medium rare.  A wonderful piece of fish!  On the side was some deliciously buttery polenta.  Both Johnny and I agreed that Giusti's was on the short list of best meals we had on the trip.
Another thing we liked about Giusti's was that we struck up a conversation with the people at the table next to us.  It was a father-daughter and he was 91 years old and told us he has been eating here "forever".  He had some interesting stories of what the place used to be like and even our waitress was listening in to what he had to say.
Before we left, I was looking over the wall in the bar, which was filled with autographed photos of celebrities who have eaten here.  The thing is, who are these people? 

I recognized George Lindsay,

but most of them were a mystery.  At least until I finally came across a really big star and noticed that Roadfood's very own BuddyRoadhouse has been here!

14743 Walnut Grove-Thornton Road
Walnut Grove, CA
We headed back to Sacramento to do more sightseeing.
Much more to come.....       
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/19 20:57:46
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 16:20:07
How did you manage to get a picture of Cousin Johnny with his eyes open?
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 18:37:30
I must have caught him by surprise!
We were thinking of you when we saw the Rail Museum, but just didn't have time to see everything we wanted.  It would be very easy to spend the better part of a day in Old Sacramento.
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/19 20:48:08
Wednesday April 24th, 2013 (cont.)
Once back in Sacramento, we headed for the state capitol building for a tour. 

On my previous visit, the capitol was being renovated and some areas were closed, so I was looking forward to seeing the entire building.
The tour starts in the lower level,

which has a distinctive checkered floor pattern and some attractive murals in a circle around you.  A group of about a dozen teenagers started with us and they immediately began asking stupid, smartass questions, while their friends giggled.  The young guide was patient at first, before she started ignoring them.  They quickly lost interest and dropped off the tour, much to the pleasure of the rest of us.
Some interior scenes:

Like most state capitol buildings, they have portraits on display of past governors.  The modern painting of Jerry Brown

is one of the more unusual I have seen.  One thing they do here I have only seen a few times before is that they have displays from each county in the state and what they are best known for. 

But, the best thing about the California State Capitol building is the golden bear

that guards the governor's office.  None of us were surprised that this was purchased by the Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Even though we still didn't have much appetite, we decided to squeeze in Whitey's Jolly Cone in West Sacramento.  This is a cute little drive-in

that looks like it has been here for a long time.  Nice looking old fashioned clock.

They have an extensive menu on boards right below the window,

with this being the one with burgers on it.  Because the prices were so cheap, we decided to order several different items and share them.  When the food came out, we started to eat at a picnic table, but it was so hot, we moved to the car.  And considering our hotel was five minutes away, we thought going there made more sense.  So the food did not get eaten for at least 15 minutes until after it arrived.  But, I don't think eating it immediately would have made a difference.
First up was the deep fried burrito.

The outside reminded us of an egg roll and it was so bland neither one of us took more than two bites.  The Chihuahua

suffered from a very cheap wiener and could have used more of the hot sauce.
The onion rings

were actually pretty good, although Johnny thought they were overcooked.  There was no doubt that the cream cheese jalapeno poppers

were undercooked and were a gooey mess.  The only food I can say that we really enjoyed was the king grilled onion and pepper burger

and I liked how all the ingredients worked together.
To drink, Johnny got a cherry shake, which was mostly melted from the heat by the time we got back to the room. 

I ordered the orange freeze, which seems to be a popular item in the Sacramento area.  This is something like a cross between a smoothie and a slushie and truthfully, didn't really have much orange flavor.  No doubt there are better orange freezes to be found in Sacramento.
Needless to say, I do not recommend Whitey's Jolly Kone and this probably goes on the short list of worst places I have ever eaten that is reviewed on Roadfood.  But, I can't be too hard on the Jon & Erika, who wrote the review, because they had already sent us to Nationwide Meats, Pasty Shack and Marie's Donuts.
Whitey's Jolly Kone
1300 Jefferson Boulevard
West Sacramento, CA
We relaxed in the hotel for a few hours, debating whether or not to go out for dinner.
Much more to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/19 20:52:56
Filet Mignon
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/20 03:41:00
BB & Johnny, how was that interesting mixture of preserves and garlic bread at Al's?  I wouldn't have thought to combine the two! 
I think my food would get cold at Giusti's while I looked at all of those caps.  I think it would be fascinating if there was a way to know the story behind each one and the person that brought it in.  The bowl & glass presentation reminds me somewhat of the way they bring out the mushroom barley soup at the Second Avenue Deli in NYC. 
I always love your tours and photos of state capitol buildings.  Have you been to all 50 yet?  Glad those whippersnappers left the tour early on.  Dang kids!  For some reason, that painting of Jerry Brown really reminds me of the one that"Doc" painted of the warden in the Clint Eastwood film, "Escape From Alcatraz".  Those county displays look really cool and I think it's great that it gives visitors an idea of what to look for when travelling to other parts of the state. 
Sorry to hear about the duds at Whitey's.  That Chihuahua dog looks to me like one I've seen pictures of from Pink's.  Do you know if Jon and Erika are still on RF?  I miss their write-ups and reviews.
Can't wait for the next installment!
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/20 08:03:44
Thanks so much for the interest and taking the time to ask those questions.  No, I have not been to all 50 state capitol buildings, but it is a lifetime goal.  The ones that are missing are Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota and South Dakota.  I have been outside several of those, but I only count it if I have taken a tour.
Not sure what happened to Jon & Erika and I do wish they would post reviews again.  Besides the places in Sacramento they reviewed, they were also the first ones to write up the excellent Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger in Ann Arbor.  As far as I know, they have never posted in the forums.
Yeah, garlic bread wasn't the idea item to put a mixed fruit preserve on, but it was so good, we had to put it on something!  Luckily, it worked!  Maybe we should have just asked for some regular toast to put it on, but there is only so much appetite to go around. 
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/20 09:32:41
Add walleye to the menu and Giusti's would fit perfectly in the upper midwest!
Since Jerry Brown has served non-consecutive terms as governor are there 2 separate portraits of him?
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/20 09:46:42
Now that you mention it, Giusti's did have a very Midwest feel about it.  Which is a good thing!
The painting are commissioned after the governor leaves office.  But, we did ask and there will be a second one for Governor Brown.  I was hoping to get a photo of Schwarzenegger's portrait, because you know it would have been entertaining, but it hasn't been completed, yet.
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/20 10:52:31
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/20 10:14:29
The Delta area between SF/Oakland and Sacramento is full of little isolated communities that time seems to have passed by (on the '5' Freeway), I'm pleased to see that you had the chance to wander outside of the City itself. You are doing a great job of bringing back memories for me...Thank You so much.
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/20 14:12:24
I should really revisit Sacramento.
Last time I was there the celebrities present were George Murphy and Ronald Reagan.  Guess it's been awhile.
I love the old town look of Locke. 
Also love your descriptions, pictures and choice of things to eat.  Great job!
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/20 14:51:47
Thanks so much to MayorAl and mar52 for the kind words.  I especially like to hear from native Californians in a report like this.
You are right about all of these forgotten little towns throughout the delta.  I fondly remember an excellent meal at the City Hotel in Columbia, which if I remember correctly, was associated with a nearby culinary school. 
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/21 08:37:57
Wednesday April 24th, 2013 (cont.)
Despite the fact that there wasn't much of an appetite left, the debate on whether we should go out for dinner was short lived.  There was one place left in Sacramento that we had to visit.  Frank Fat's first appeared on my radar when it won a James Beard Award earlier in the year.  But when I read that this Chinese restaurant was best known for their banana cream pie (?), they became a must visit. 
Frank Fat's is right in the heart of the downtown area and we arrived around 8:30PM.  Since they are open until 10:00, that gave us plenty of time for dinner.  The inside is lovely,

full of deep, rich colors and interesting art.  I will just go ahead and apologize right now for the quality of the photos, because this is one of the darkest restaurants we have ever visited.
The front of the menu: 

We could have ordered off of the regular menu, but when we saw the fixed price menu,

that included the banana cream pie, it was an easy choice.
First thing out was the pot sticker and yu kwok. 

Since there was two of us, it would have been nice if we had one of each of these, but we simply cut them in half.  The pork filled pot sticker was quite good, but the yu kwok was overly breaded and neither one of us liked it.
There was already pitchers of hot Chinese oil and red wine vinaigrette on the table. 

Right after we ordered, our waiter brought over a tray with dipping sauces. 

He started to walk away, but before he could, I asked him what each one was.  He told us, from left to right, black bean sauce, ketchup, duck sauce and hot mustard.  Wait, what?  Ketchup?  As a dipping sauce in a Chinese restaurant?  Now I'm not an anti-ketchup guy, as I put it on burgers, potatoes and eggs.  But in a Chinese restaurant?  That is just weird.
The rest of the food arrived and everything did look good.  The garlic green beans

were plenty garlicky, but you know how sometimes green beans can be so crispy they almost squeak?  That's what these were like.  Johnny ate more of these than I did and I usually love green beans.  The young shew fried rice was

ordinary fried rice, although it did come in a generous portion size and had lots of shrimp.
The other two entrees were the highlights of the meal.  The Mongolian Beef

had thin strips of lean beef in a tasty sauce, while the honey walnut prawns

had a crispy exterior in a not-too-sweet sauce.  And since the candied walnuts were large, it made it easy for this nut frowner to avoid them.
Finally, on to the banana cream. 

It did have nice banana flavor and the whipped topping did seem fresh and homemade, but we would have preferred less topping and more banana filling.  Still, a really good slice of banana cream pie.  Just not on the list of best I have ever had.
Now, about the service, we didn't like our waiter at all.  He wasn't unfriendly and even appeared to be young and enthusiastic at times.  But we just had a tough time communicating with him throughout the meal.  When we finished our entrees, he came over and asked if we wanted to take our banana cream pie to go.  It was only around 9:20 and there will still plenty of other customers in the restaurants, so I said no, we will eat in here.  A couple of minutes later, instead of bringing the pie over, he asked if we changed our mind and wanted it to go.  I probably should have taken the hint, that he wanted us to leave, but this was getting me peeved.  We could have eaten the pie, paid the check and been out the door by the time we finally got dessert.  After we finished it, it then took forever for us to the get the check.  By him asking if we wanted the dessert to go, we thought the restaurant was going to close early.  But this did not appear to be the case.  While we were waiting for the check, our waiter was just standing within view chatting with other waiters. 
I don't know what to think about our experience at Frank Fat's.  It is an institution in Sacramento, having been around since 1939.   Obviously with the ketchup and the banana cream pie, it is a very Americanized Chinese restaurant.  Has anyone been here?  What did you think?
Frank Fat's
806 L Street
Sacramento, CA
It was back to the hotel for the night.
Much more to come.....      
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/21 09:22:46
Filet Mignon
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/21 09:14:29
The appetizers seem really cheapo if they send one of each for two big strapping guys!  Did you have to split the pie also? 
I don't get that kind of service...the only way to deal with it is in the tipping process. 
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/21 10:23:10
No, at least we did each get our own slice of banana cream pie.
We noticed some of the other waiters were older and we saw by the way they were handling their tables that they were real pros.  We would have had a much better experience at Frank Fat's if we had one them, instead.
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/21 10:47:05
Yeah, quality food can lose a lot of it's ratings if the service is "not right".  Sorry the waiter took points away from your experience.  My Brother and his wife live in Grass Valley, a suburb up the hill from downtown. They told me they have enjoyed several visits to Fat Frank's over the last decade. We have not personally visited the place,
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/21 12:42:32
BB:  I can tell you right now that when I am there, I will not visit this place.  The food looked OK but just OK and the service you described was not appealing.  Perhaps it was a cultural thing?  Regardless, no way Jose.
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/22 07:36:04
I can't blame you for that Paul.  There are plenty of other good places to eat in Sacramento.
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/22 08:25:13
Thursday April 25th, 2013
It was another early start, since we had so much to do.  We said goodbye to Sacramento and headed towards wine country.  Our breakfast destination was Putah Creek Café

in the attractive town of Winters.  This is another place that has been in the Roadfood books for many years and we were excited about eating here for the first time.  Maybe a little too excited, in my case.  The hostess led us to abooth in the back dining room and once we settled in, Johnny mentioned he was surprised I didn't say something about the pie case.  I replied, "What pie case?"  Somehow I managed to walk right past this

without noticing.  Obviously, I hadn't turned on my pie radar, yet.
PCC had one of the best looking breakfast menus we had seen in a while and it was difficult to whittle it down to one choice.  Johnny went with the Southern Style Biscuits & Gravy. 

This may seem like an odd choice in northern California, but as usual, Johnny hit a home run.  The buttermilk biscuit was hot from the oven and wonderfully soft.  The gravy was ultra-peppery, with big chunks of sausage and neither one of us could remember having a better sausage gravy.  The sausage patties had a fetching heat and packed a strong porky flavor.  Even the eggs, cooked perfectly to over medium, were a pleasure to eat.
My meal started with a big bowl of steel cut oatmeal.  

This dish was very thick, even when the milk was added to it.  My girlfriend, an oatmeal connoisseur would have loved it.  I also made an odd choice considering what part of the country we were in, by going with Em's Chicken Fried Steak. 

The beef steak was very tender, but an old shoe would taste good with that gravy on top.  Like Johnny, my plate also came with some biscuits and gravy and a couple of over medium eggs.  More times than not, when home fries come with my meal, I will pick at them, but are usually the item on my plate that doesn't get eaten, because they are undercooked.  These were nice and crispy and despite my plans for dessert, all of the home fries were eaten.
Time for pie!  Johnny chose the apple raspberry pie,

which featured many layers of tightly packed thin slices of fresh fruit.  The apples had absorbed so much of the raspberry juice, they had turned purple!  My selection was a Pacific Northwest favorite, marionberry. 

The fruit was very sweet and intense and I loved it.  Crust-wise, both Johnny and I raved about the flaky crusts on our pies.
The inside of Putah Creek Café is relaxed and comfortable,

with plenty of room between tables and booths.  Service was efficient and friendly and while the cost of the food is not inexpensive, it is perfectly reasonable for California wine country.  Johnny and I both agreed that Putah Creek Café was the best meal of the trip up to this point.
Considering how good everything was, I couldn't leave without grabbing some baked goods to go.  While the apricot bar

was fresh and delicious, the peanut butter cookie

was pure bliss!
On our way, we noticed this

just outside the door.  We assumed it was some kind of portable pizza oven.
Putah Creek Café
1 Main Street
Winters, CA
I was already feeling sorry for whichever place had to follow our meal here.
Much more to come.....     
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/22 08:26:29
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/22 08:31:29
Now you've done it.
There's going to be rioting in the streets because the CFS has sausage gravy.
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/22 08:56:56
You got me wondering about that, so I went back and looked at their menu and it is indeed sausage gravy.
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/22 09:41:16
That could easily be a pizza oven. Looking at the door on it indicates they could also be using it for baking. Do they serve their own baked bread?
Ralph Melton
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/22 09:59:34
Man, that is some great looking pie.
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/22 12:42:36
We did not get any bread during our meal (other than the biscuits), but that doesn't mean that they don't serve their own baked bread.  But, looking at the menu, they definitely do offer wood fired artisan pizzas, so a pizza oven would be my best guess.
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/22 13:07:29
BB:  How ironic that you thought catsup was weird in a Chinese restaurant. 
My mother and I go at least once a week to an old timey Chinese restaurant and just this week I commented to her that I wish they'd still serve the catsup like they used to.
When I was growing up, before fast food, mass produced Chinese food when you first sat down at the table they'd bring you a plate of fried noodles accompanied by a small bowl of catsup with a dab of hot mustard.  It was classic!
You took the biggest noodle you could find, mix the mustard and catsup with it and then dip all the rest of them, one at a time in to the mix until your food was served.
Those were the days they brought you preserved kumquats and pineapple chunks in creme de menthe at the end of the meal.
The food back then was so much better.  Don't know why but we call it New York Chinese.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/22 14:02:01
What's the old timey Chinese restaurant?   I LOVE old-style "Chinese-American" restaurants! Especially the ones that still serve rumaki, like Lotus Garden in Greenwood, Indiana.
I'm flying to Los Angeles on Saturday for a board meeting at (yuck) Anaheim Marriott on Sunday morning, then flying back to Minneapolis on Sunday afternoon, so I won't have much opportunity to seek out roadfood this trip, sadly.  But I'd cherish the reference for future trips.
post edited by rumaki - 2013/08/22 14:19:18
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/22 20:58:15
Thursday April 25th, 2013 (cont.)
Not long after leaving the restaurant, I started not feeling well.  It was a stomach ache, along with dizziness.  Undoubtedly, it had nothing to do with Putah Creek Café, but it did affect my experience at our next stop.  For some reason, neither of our GPSs would accept the address for Gott's Roadside in St. Helena.  We got a little lost, before asking directions at a beautiful lake, which was acting as a stop for some kind of bicycle race or event.  All three people we spoke to just raved about how good the food was at Gott's.  The directions they gave us were right on the mark and we quickly found our way there.
If I understand the history of this place correctly, this was originally a landmark burger stand known as Taylor's Refresher for many years.  It ended up closing and the Gott brothers came in, leased the place and changed it's name to Taylor's Automatic Refresher.  Just a few years ago, the name was changed again to Gott's Roadside.  An old wooden sign

with the original name still hangs out front, which is a nice nod to the past.
It was still fairly early when we arrived and there was only one other customer.  From what we read, this place can get maddeningly crowded, so we felt fortunate to get here at this time.  The outside looks like a cute little drive-in

and it is hard to miss just how clean and well kept everything looks.
On a normal day, we would have ordered far more, but with me not feeling myself, we decided to just split a burger and a side.  As you can see from the day's specials,

this is not your typical roadside joint. 
The list of available burgers wasn't big, although every single one sounded like something we would enjoy.  As soon as I saw the description for the Wisconsin burger, I knew that was the one.  Luckily, Johnny shares a love for mushrooms, so that made it easier.  Here is the Wisconsin burger in all of it's glory:

On that burger you have grilled mushrooms, bacon, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce and mayo on round grilled sourdough toast.  Other than maybe skipping the mayo, if you asked me what my perfect burger would look like and have on top of it, this would just about be it.  The burger itself is certainly of the highest quality and the fresh meat ground daily.  One minor quibble is that they cook all the burgers to medium well, but it was still juicy enough.
After I took my photos, we realized that we didn't have a knife to cut it in half to share.  So, I took it back up and asked them to cut it half.  When they returned it to us, they now placed both halves in their own burger diaper. 

This is one of those places where they do the little things right!  Both of us raved about the burger and I felt bad that Johnny was forced to share it with me, just because I wasn't feeling 100%.  This was the best burger of the trip and maybe of the year.
As a side, we went with the sweet potato fries,

which comes dusted in chili spice.  These were still hot, long and wonderfully crispy.  For dipping, we were given a cup of dill sauce. 

Gott's is also famous for their milkshakes. 

Johnny went with the pistachio.  He did like that there were plenty of whole nuts in the shake, but he didn't think it had strong enough pistachio flavor or was blended very well.  Even though I don't drink coffee, I had heard too many great things about their espresso bean shake to pass it up.  As expected, the flavor was intense, maybe too much so.  I would prefer to try another flavor on my next visit.
We had our choice of seating, as you can sit under picnic tables in front and back

or under a roof at a long table,

which is what we choose.  While we ate, we watched an entire army of employees, cleaning and setting up for the day ahead.  It is obvious that this is a well run establishment.  We loved our visit to Gott's Roadside.  Two meals so far on this day and both of them outstanding.
Gott's Roadside
933 Main Street
St. Helena, CA
While many think it strange that here we are in wine country and we didn't visit any wineries, I have maybe three or four glasses of wine a year at most, while Johnny is a teetotaler.  We passed some beautiful scenery and vineyards, but drove right past.  Instead, open up those golden gates, we were finally heading to San Francisco!                
post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/23 11:08:14
Filet Mignon
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/22 21:41:10
Sausage, sausage gravy and a pie case (filled) followed by best buger of the year... you're living the life! Congratulations on a great double header!
Double Cheeseburger
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/22 21:47:08
Love the burger!  Love the term "burger diaper"!
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/22 22:34:01
Thanks for sharing your trip.  I love every post.
The Wisconsin burger looks great.
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/22 23:05:54
Rumaki, I love Rumaki!
Mom and I go for the lunch menu.  I know where it is but would you believe I don't know the name?
Next time we're there I'll check the appetizers AND the name.
The only part of it that's not so old timey is that they've added a Hawaiian menu to the mix.
It's in Culver City on Centinela Ave. 
1wait!  I'll Google it....
Not in Culver City.  On the line!
Also a strange name.  I was thinking something Dragon.

New Flavors
4135 Centinela Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90066

[link=]Culver City

4135 Centinela Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90066

We also like Twin Dragon and they have Rumaki.

8597 West Pico Blvd
Los Angeles. CA 90035

Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/23 07:18:10
Those were the days they brought you preserved kumquats and pineapple chunks in creme de menthe at the end of the meal. 
Kumquats and pineapple chunks in crème de menthe?  That sounds both bizarre and delicious at the same time.  Never seen anything like that.
Thank you mikeam and will_work_4_bbq for your generous comments.  They are always much appreciated! 

post edited by buffetbuster - 2013/08/23 07:20:22
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/23 07:37:38
BB:  Interesting that you posted on Taylors/Gotts .  Interesting in that my wife and I ate there about 30 years ago.  The brunch was part of a package that was included in hot air balloon cruise we did in the Napa Valley.  The food then was double outstanding and at that time it was a bit of a gourmet brunch.  Thanks for the memories.
I little side bar as the balloon pilot was showing off a bit and did the thing where he lowered the balloon in flight where it brushed the top of a tree.  A great stunt however the top of the tree branch caught my wrist and yanked my medium priced watch off.  I guess it is still there.
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
mayor al
Fire Safety Admin
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/23 09:40:26
I seem to be "tail-end Al" in keeping up with your Journal entries. I apologize for my lack of timely feedback (no pun intended). Your photo and comments of the 'Gott Burger' is Spot on for the Burger I visualize as 'The Perfect Burger' The mayo would cut the intensity of the BBQ sauce, and I would add grilled onions and maybe some avocado slices in place of the mushrooms that I love, but that my lack of Gall Bladder cannot handle anymore.
MAR- I always thought (as a kid with my parents at Chinese places in the South Bay area) that those were tinned Figs not kum-quats. My error.  But , Yes they were in small condiment dish/bowls at the end of the dinner.
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/23 10:04:55
The photos from Gott's make me want to jump in the car and drive until I find someplace just like it...preferably closer than California.
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/23 10:21:24
Thanks for the info on the Chinese places.  Sorry to hijack the thread, but the search for rumaki is relentless and neverending!
Here's a link to the New Flavors site:
post edited by rumaki - 2013/08/23 10:47:52
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/23 10:56:41
Wow, both Putah and Gott's look lovely. The apricot bar looked delicious!
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/23 11:12:47
Gotts gets added to our next trip to San Rafael!.and BTW.the sunday market there(SR) at the Civic Center is a delight as well
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/23 13:38:29

Those were the days they brought you preserved kumquats and pineapple chunks in creme de menthe at the end of the meal. 
Kumquats and pineapple chunks in crème de menthe?  That sounds both bizarre and delicious at the same time.  Never seen anything like that.
BB,  those were 2 separate dishes.  One with the pineapple and the other with the kumquats.
Al,  I'm glad I'm not the only one to remember those.  Possible yours were figs?
Rumaki, thanks for the link.  I didn't find one!
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/23 16:12:49

The photos from Gott's make me want to jump in the car and drive until I find someplace just like it...preferably closer than California.

Amen to that!
or if there are two of us driving....
Re:California, Here We Come! 2013/08/23 16:15:22
BB - Back to back Winners, you were on a roll until the bug got you.
I am sure Cousin Johnny would have loved for you to have your own burger, but I think this once he could eat only half, you may have to make it up to him in the future though
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