We drove to Milestone restaurant in El Dorado Hills the other day, specifically for its savory, crispy Brussels sprouts, and ran into owner-executive chef Nick Dedier, who also has the next-door Aji Japanese Bistro.
“Chefs (such as) Nancy, Jaques Pepin, Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck allowed (the next generation of chefs) to do what we do today,” said Dieder, who’s from Elk Grove and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. “Some people work 10 hours a day so they can do the things they love. I work 12 hours a day doing the thing I love.”
Dedier sharpened his professional career managing Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc and Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, and Daniel Boulud Brasserie and Jean-Georges Prime Steakhouse in Las Vegas. He also consulted for the Auberge Resorts Collection, whose centerpiece is Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford in the Napa Valley. “I’ve got Michelin stars in my pockets,” he said.
Back to those Brussels sprouts, not the most popular cruciferous veggie choice among diners, but one that is made sublime at Milestone.
To begin, Dedier trims the sprouts (called “buds”), cuts them in half, salts them to remove moisture and their infamous bitterness. Next, they’re rinsed, dried and tossed with house-made garlic-infused olive-canola oil and a touch of sea salt. Then they get a 10-second fry in canola oil, are drained and tossed with more garlic-infused oil, cracked pepper and flecks of Parmesan cheese ($8.25).
The buds are dark and crispy-tender, so full of flavor and texture that it’s impossible to stop forking them until the bowl is empty. Feel good about that, as Brussels sprouts are one of our most healthful foods. On the other hand, we’ll go back for the buttermilk fried chicken.
Milestone in El Dorado Hills Town Center off Latrobe Road in El Dorado Hills; 916-934-0790, www.milestonerestaurantedh.com.
A fish tale
We heard a disturbing rumor recently, that 36 Handles had hired a new executive chef who erased the deep-fried haddock from the menu. It’s the best version of fish ’n’ chips we’ve found around town. One reason is flavorful, firm-fleshed haddock is not often encountered, as the fish is sourced from the North Atlantic. We anxiously phoned restauranteur Richard Righton (who also has Relish Burger Bar) to tell us it isn’t so.
Turns out 36 Handles eighty-sixed the deep-fried salmon (no loss) but kept the haddock and cod. It has made other changes as well – “Taking it up a notch,” Righton said. One move was hiring Dan Moore to run the kitchen.
Moore’s resume includes stints at Esquire Grill and Mulvaney’s B&L in Sacramento, Taste in Plymouth and the National Hotel in Jackson. Moore kept the classic pub fare (cottage pie, bangers and mash) and brought in grilled king salmon, hoisin-glazed porkchop and Harris Ranch skirt steak, among other dishes.
36 Handles in the Montano Center, 1010 White Rock Road, El Dorado Hills; 916-941-3606, http://36handles.com.
St. Pat’s Day countdown
It’s only 51 weeks till St. Patrick’s Day, but if your corned beef jones won’t leave you alone, try this old-school trio:
Jamie Bunnell has brined and roasted briskets since he opened Jamie’s Broadway Grille in 1986. Find it on the daily menu as a corned beef Reuben sandwich, and on a plate with boiled cabbage every Thursday. Bonus: “There are shamrocks everywhere here,” said bartender Allen Urkofsky.
Jamie’s Broadway Grille, 427 Broadway, Sacramento; 916-442-4044, www.jamiesbroadwaygrille.com.
Clair Brown has been on the local restaurant scene for more than 50 years, and estimates he’s cooked 285,000 pounds of salt-cured brisket in his culinary career. The stacked corned beef on rye at the atmospheric Brownie’s Lounge is best when smeared with searing horseradish. Served Thursdays only, cash only.
Brownie’s Lounge, 5858 Land Park Dr., Sacramento; 916-424-3058.
One of the pleasures of visiting Sam’s Hof Brau (built in 1959) is standing in the cafeteria-style line watching the meat carvers in towering toques expertly wield their knives in a blur of action. The way to go is the “heavyweight” sandwich of half corned beef and half pastrami on rye, with a bowl of jus for dipping. Help yourself to hot mustard at the table.
Sam’s Hof Brau, 2500 El Camino Ave., Sacramento; 916-482-2175, www.thehofbrau.com.