Appetizers

Pushkin’s fans crowd into 2nd location during opening week

A new Pushkin's for midtown Sacramento

Owners Danny and Olga Turner talk about opening Pushkin's on Capitol Avenue, an evolution of their 29th Street Pushkin's Bakery. The new spot will serve brunch all day. (Video by Blair Anthony Robertson)
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Owners Danny and Olga Turner talk about opening Pushkin's on Capitol Avenue, an evolution of their 29th Street Pushkin's Bakery. The new spot will serve brunch all day. (Video by Blair Anthony Robertson)

Pushkin’s Restaurant opened in Midtown Sacramento a week ago, and the success was immediate: Waits for a table were 40 minutes almost from the time the owners unlocked the front door at 1813 Capitol Ave. at 8 a.m. Dec. 27.

The large crowds and the hefty enthusiasm lasted all week as the new breakfast/brunch hotspot survived the deluge and staff figured out what worked and what needs tweaking. I caught up with co-owner Danny Turner on Monday and asked how it went down and what menu items were most popular. The worst part? He and wife, Olga Turner, both came down with colds at the same time.

“Everything else at the restaurant has been going really well,” Turner said. “Our mornings have usually started slow and then we average about a 20-minute wait.”

Pushkin’s is an offshoot of the very successful Pushkin’s Bakery (1820 29th St., Sacramento), which opened four years ago and features gluten-free and dairy-free baked goods. The new restaurant has a progressive menu with the same gluten-free/dairy-free ethos, though it turns out that the menu on opening week was confusing for many vegans, Turner said.

For instance, many of the traditional dishes like the avocado toast with poached eggs or the pan-roasted sweet potato with poached eggs and mixed greens were available in a vegan option, but many customers found this baffling. They assumed that the vegan version meant that eggs would simply be withheld from the dish. The eggs were substituted with tofu.

To make things clearer, Pushkin’s will tweak the menu. Instead of putting a “V” in parentheses next to dishes that have a vegan option, there will be a separate vegan section on the flip-side of the menu.

Vegans may flock to Pushkin’s, but the real winner in the first week was the burger – we’re talking all beef – with a gluten-free bun.

“I think for a lot of people, this is the first time they have been able to order a hamburger on a gluten-free bun,” Turner said.

Two items for which the owners had high hopes were largely ignored at the outset – shakshuka, which is baked eggs, toast and spiced tomato sauce; and coddled eggs with ikura and toast points. Ikura is salmon roe (eggs); coddled eggs are very gently cooked eggs; and shakshuka is a traditional North African/Middle east dish that is not widely known in the U.S.

Beyond all that, Turner explained, the power went out on the 1800 block of Capitol Avenue one day after a motorist plowed into a pole. The restaurant was forced to shut down the kitchen temporarily, but customers who already ordered their food happily ate in the dark.

Pushkin’s opens for Week 2 on Tuesday at 8 a.m. The restaurant closes at 3 p.m. for now, with plans to soon extend hours to 4 p.m.

Blair Anthony Robertson: 916-321-1099, @Blarob

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