A long-awaited restaurant with extensive vegan options and an ice cream and doughnut shop are expected to open next door to each other in midtown's Ice Blocks development within the next month.
Beast + Bounty's grand opening is scheduled for July 9, and Milk Money will begin serving desserts roughly two weeks later from a shared kitchen. They'll be the third and fourth brick-and-mortar food projects for Michael Hargis, who also owns Lowbrau and Block Butcher Bar at 20th and K streets.
"The space that we're creating is going to be a place that people want to hang out in, whether they're having a full meal or just a cocktail or even coming for late night," said Hargis, 45. "We're hoping it relates to a lot of different people, which is why the menu's so diverse."
Beast + Bounty's menu and ambiance are certainly a step above Lowbrau's sausage-and-beer staples, with marble tables and entrees that stretch from $15 to $30. Glimmering gold taps, long-handled silverware, cocktail shakers and railings complement soft pink seat backs, grey couches and dark green plants near the entryway.
The restaurant's upscale aspects are tempered somewhat by the natural light pouring through windows in the western exposed brick wall, which illuminates an enormous photo of local art purveyor Jon Stevenson dressed as the Queen of England.
Hargis also expects people to enjoy cocktails such as "The Firecracker" (Oaxacan mezcal, tequila, ancho reyes chili liquor, strawberry-rhubarb syrup, lemon juice, black pepper and cilantro) or "Peaches & Peat" (Bank Note Scotch whiskey, house-made ginger syrup, peach liquor, lemon juice and grated nutmeg) at an outdoor bocce ball court and shared patio.
Beast + Bounty was slated to open in September 2017 before several construction hiccups delayed the start of business, Hargis said, and Milk Money relied on frequent pop-up doughnut shops to keep its name in diners' mouths. The setback had a silver lining: Beast + Bounty can immediately begin serving pizzas out of Device Brewing Co.'s taproom that opened June 9 across R Street.
The final menus are being kept a secret, but Beast + Bounty executive chef Brock Macdonald (formerly of Masque Ristorante in El Dorado Hills and Spataro Restaurant & Bar, among others) promised both Block Butcher Bar salumi and a wide selection of intentionally vegan dishes — not dishes made for omnivores and adapted to fit dietary restrictions, he said.
Beast + Bounty won't use white sugar to sweeten dishes advertised as vegan, since it's typically filtered and bleached with bone char, and will substitute leftover chickpea liquid called aquafaba instead of eggs at times. They'll serve duck confit tossed in kumquat preserves, yes, but also apricot salad and pizzas sealed with ash-covered fermented cashew, almond and pine nut "cheese," Macdonald said.
Six times as many Americans identified as vegan in a 2017 GlobalData study as did in 2014, and that percentage often rises in metropolitan areas. LowBrau is one of 32 area restaurants competing in the month-long Great Sacramento Vegan Burger Battle.
"Instead of something along the lines of 'just take the bacon off that or the chicken off that,' we, from the very beginning, are designing dishes that are truly vegan," Macdonald said. "There are a lot of people that are becoming vegan or vegetarian now, so we want to have a good amount of options for them."
Pastry guru Edward Martinez is in charge of coming up with Milk Money's daily doughnut flavor and will oversee production of up to six kinds of ice cream. The "Netflix and Chill" (a doughnut surrounded by a buttered popcorn glaze, burnt caramel and corn dust), "The Green Goblin" (doughnut with white chocolate, coconut and matcha) and the "Waka Flocka Flame" (vanilla vegan brioche with a strawberry-almond milk glaze) have all been tested out at the pop-ups.
LowBrau sausages are now sold at stadiums for the Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Football Club, Los Angeles Rams and USC football, and Hargis said he's been talking to an investment group about opening Milk Money 2.0 — in New York City.
"Instead of (Sacramento) always looking at the bigger metropolitan cities and going 'oh, I want to be like that,' I wanted the bigger cities to look at us and be like 'Oh, I want to be like that or I wish we had that,'" Hargis said.
The 2,200-square foot Beast + Bounty will open at 8 a.m. seven days a week and close at 10 p.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends. Milk Money will likely stay open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., though a to-go window would allow it to serve late-night treats if the demand is there.
The Bee's Benjy Egel is launching a new effort to cover Sacramento's dining and beer scene. Please send tips and story ideas by email at email@example.com, on Twitter @BenjyEgel or by phone at (916) 321-1052.