Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Crocker Cafe - Uh oh. I'm in Trouble!

Crocker Cafe on Urbanspoon

Buccatini Bolognese
1/4/12 Note: Mulvaney's is no longer in charge of the cafe and so this review is no longer valid.

Original post:

This weekend Sacramento celebrated the reopening of the Crocker Art Museum with its fabulous new wing. The addition is incredible, including the new Crocker Cafe.

The Crocker awarded their catering contract to Patrick Mulvaney, owner of Mulvaney's Building and Loan, one of the best restaurants in town. They will be running the Crocker Cafe with an on-site chef and staff as well as catering any special events or galas that take place at the Crocker.

This is good and bad news for me. I work across the street from the Crocker. I am thrilled to have a fine dining establishment so close for lunch, but am afraid I will become a regular and spend a small fortune over there. It will be worth it for the quality of the food though.

The opening was on Sunday and today, Wednesday, I decided to check it out. What will they be serving? How many items?

So far I am impressed and I had a delicious lunch. One shouldn't really base a review on a single item, but we are talking about Mulvaney's here and so I feel confident that the other dishes will be the same quality that we have all come to expect. And when you consider that they have their own famous pasta maker, Pasta Dave, who is revered throughout town, you know any pasta dish will be fab.

It's a small cafe with a counter, drink cases, a bakery case, and not much else. That's because the seating is all out in the large Crocker foyer. The menu is written on a chalk board on the wall behind the cashiers but they also print out a few copies to peruse. I'm sure the Niman Ranch burger is going to be a constant, but how much they will rotate other items we'll have to see. Today there was Pasta Dave's bolognese, which was extremely tempting, and also his butternut squash agnolotti, which I chose. There was a chicken salad with home cured bacon and a couple more items. In the case there were pre-made sandwiches and salads. The bakery case had some cookies, cupcakes, a panna cotta, a butterscotch pudding, and a chocolate mousse. 

Now I am in the middle of my October: Unprocessed month where I am not eating any processed food. But I was confident in my choice for lunch. After all, Mulvaney is a big proponent of eating local and sustainable. His food is all made from scratch. Pasta Dave makes all the pasta and every ingredient in my lunch was from fresh, local produce.





I was given one of those little signs to put on my table so that my dish could be delivered to me. What arrived was the beautiful bowl above. How gorgeous is that? There were about 8-10 of the butternut squash filled agnolotti with a lovely fresh tomato sauce with corn, basil, and parmesan shavings. The flavors were so clean and fresh that you felt like you were eating this on the farmer's patio during a harvest feast. With the sunny, warm 91 degree weather on this October day, I relished my last true taste of summer on my tongue.

11/2/10 Had the bolognese today (pictured at top). The linguini was very toothy/al dente. There was no skimping on meat in the sauce. Overall a good but basic bolognese.



12/22/10 Don't bother with the burger. For $10 you should get more meat than this. And the bun was dry and crumbly. I've had much better burgers for less money than this.
Added notes: After I posted this my coworkers went over to have lunch. Turns out they knew one of the employees and got a tour of the kitchen and some samples of the baked goods. Anyway, an interesting fact they learned is that the kitchen is all electric. Because of the art work in the museum, they are not allowed to have open flame, so no gas.



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