We’ve been hopping to places around town the past few weeks, so let’s take a minute to reconnoiter.
The motto at the 20-year-old Lido Bar & Grill is, “The best-kept secret in Carmichael,” but we don’t believe it. Yes, the place seems always to be jammed with locals, but word-of-mouth brings plenty of diners from other cities, including us.
Lido is the kind of small, homey place where bottles of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce are lined up with A1 sauce on a maplewood hutch. The servers are sincere, the portions big and the decorations homespun and kitschy – glass bricks, ceramic roosters and other assorted knickknacks and paddy-whacks.
On one visit, a waitress squeezed through the labyrinth of crowded tables and booths, balancing plates of biscuits and gravy, burgers and fries, from-scratch soups and assorted house-made pastries. A top seller is the cinnamon roll, slightly smaller than a catcher’s mitt and topped with fresh orange zest. The piano player in the bar area wore a Donald Duck cap from Disneyland, with an orange “bill.” Somewhere, a rousing course of “Happy Birthday” broke out.
“Between our supportive customers and our staff, it’s like a big family,” said chef/co-owner Shawna Rivera, with husband Don.
The menu is long and the chalkboard specials are in a constant flux of breakfast, lunch and dinner items. My lunch pals and I liked the chili verde with eggs, refried beans and flour tortilla; blueberry pancake with crisp bacon; Domino grilled sandwich (turkey, mushrooms and Swiss); and the Fair Oaks burger (with bacon, mushrooms, pepper jack and avocado). Dinner specials can include homemade ravioli, ribs and salmon in puff pastry. Prices range from $5 to $19.
What’s the rumor we hear about Lido moving to a new location? “We’re only going a half-block up the street, and we’re looking to open in April,” Rivera said. “We’ll have a real chef’s dream kitchen and maybe an old-school pizza oven, and we’re going to add a little more love to the menu. The new Lido will be bigger and more efficient, but it will still be cozy. A lot of our customers are worried about that.”
A comfy seat
The Fat Rabbit Public House in Historic Folsom is a comfy place to sit at the handsome bar, sip an imported beer and munch on a bowl of sweet ’n’ spicy mixed nuts, which are smoky and addictive because they’re roasted in bacon fat. Beers are from England, Ireland, Scotland, Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic, backed up by 17 scotches.
The space is outfitted in dark wood, stained-glass windows, hardwood floors, rustic booths and beamed ceilings. Over there is a taxidermied boar’s head next to a stag’s head next to ceramic beer steins.
Among its past incarnations, the circa 1946 building housed Pachanga, whose fare was ambitious but inconsistent, and later the disappointing Heart of Europe, formerly the excellent Old Europe when it was in another part of Folsom.
“We did a total rehaul to the cosmetics of the (interior) and now it looks like a countryside English pub,” said co-owner Dylan Mauro, who also co-owns the estimable Samuel Horne’s Tavern a short walk away.
The menu of mostly pub grub is brief. We liked the crisp pork schnitzel and the bangers (sausages), but the “gravy” in the “deconstructed” chicken pot pie was a thick, lukewarm glop, and the chicken was nearly a no-show. The chicken and Brie sandwich with cranberry mayo “is gentle, soft and easy on the taste buds,” said a lunch pal. “But where’s the character?” The accompanying steak fries were tops.
Fat Rabbit, 825 Sutter St., Folsom; (916) 985-3289. Look for weekend brunch.
Time for soup
The weather is getting wetter, which leads to hot soup. Two of our favorite are at Thai Hut, owned and operated by husband-wife Ten and Tuck Siri. We dropped by the other night for tastes of both.
Seafood-noodle soup is rich broth chunky with green-lip mussels, fish, calamari, prawns, chili peppers, noodles, green onion and garlic.
Koi teaw tom yum is a sinus-clearing mix of sweet-and-hot broth, thin egg noodles, coarse-ground pork (chicken is an option), green onion, garlic, chili pepper, carrot, celery, fish sauce and lime juice, topped with prawns and ground peanuts.
Thai Hut, 5800 Madison Ave., Sacramento, (916) 348-1880, www.thaihut.org
Such a cream puff
We wonder if the suits who run the Westfield Galleria in Roseville have a clue of what they did by allowing a Beard Papa’s franchise to join the center’s lineup of eateries. We think its presence could result in a stampede once word gets around.
Beard Papa’s is a decade-old international bakery chain headquartered in Japan, and claims to serve “the world’s best cream puffs.” We believe that to be true. Each delectable cream puff shell is filled to order with luscious custard mixed with whipped cream. The shell and the filling come in various flavors, including cocoa, eclair and praline.
We first met Beard Papa’s two years ago in San Francisco, where the store on Market Street resembles a small, futuristic factory. The staff there puts on a great show. The kiosk at the Galleria is unassuming and hard to find (it’s near the children’s play area), but don’t let that dissuade you. This simple confection is one of the freshest-tasting, most delicious desserts we’ve encountered.
As for the name: Corporate “legend” holds that a Japanese “beard papa” (village elder) who was a baker concocted the cream puff. We’d like to shake his hand.
Beard Papa’s, 1151 Galleria Blvd., (916) 774-6111, Roseville, www.muginohointl.com
Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.