Restaurant News & Reviews

Three Sacramento restaurants named to Michelin guide’s Bib Gourmand list

A look at what Michelin Guide coverage means for Sacramento dining scene

Michelin will expand its California restaurant guide coverage to include Sacramento as well as greater Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Monterey.
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Michelin will expand its California restaurant guide coverage to include Sacramento as well as greater Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Monterey.

Sacramento restaurants Canon, Frank Fat’s and Mother were named to the Michelin guide’s Bib Gourmand list Tuesday alongside nearly 150 other restaurants in California.

While Michelin stars are reserved for fine dining, the Bib Gourmand list highlights more affordable places to eat. Customers must be able to order two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less for a restaurant to qualify for the Bib Gourmand list.

Clay Nutting and chef Brad Cecchi opened Canon in 2017 with a focus on small plates. Sacramento Bee food critic Kate Washington gave the restaurant four out of four stars in a review last year.

Cecchi was previously the executive chef at Michelin-starred Calistoga restaurant Solbar before coming back to his hometown. Other than a slight traffic bump and some planned decorative changes to the outdoor patio, he doesn’t anticipate a significant change to the East Sacramento restaurant now that it’s received nationwide recognition.

“We got on the list because of what we do day-to-day. I think every day we strive to get better, and we’re going to continue to do that. There’s plenty of opportunity to get better and move upward from here,” Cecchi said.

Frank Fat’s, which won a James Beard Foundation America’s Classics Award in 2013, will celebrate its 80th anniversary in downtown Sacramento this fall. The Chinese restaurant and its back room have long been a favorite of legislators and lobbyists working out deals.

Fat immigrated from China in 1919 and founded his eponymous restaurant at 806 L St. 20 years later. His daughter-in-law Lina Fat helped the restaurant grow into the brand it is today, a brand that includes Fat City in Old Sacramento and Fat’s Asia Bistro in Folsom and Roseville.

“My grandfather, Frank Fat, would be humbled and filled with gratitude by the award and the continued support of the Sacramento community over the years,” COO Kevin Fat wrote in an email. “This is an exciting time for Sacramento’s dynamic food scene, and we look forward to the future.”

Mother is Michael and Lisa Thiemann’s vegetarian answer to their neighboring restaurant, carnivore-friendly Empress Tavern. It too received a four-star review from The Bee in 2014, when then-executive chef Matt Masera whipped up more than 100 unique dishes over 10 visits.

“The creative offerings are expertly conceived and incredibly craveable,” Michelin wrote.

Visit California paid $600,000 to have Michelin expand its coverage to Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, Monterey and Santa Barbara this year. The travel guide previously only reviewed U.S. restaurants in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and the Bay Area.

Michelin inspectors judge restaurants on five criteria: quality of the ingredients used, mastery of flavor and cooking techniques, the personality of the chef in his cuisine, value for money and consistency between visits.

Canon and Mother both made Zagat’s 2017 list of 11 restaurant to try in Sacramento.

California’s Michelin stars will be announced next Monday. The full Bib Gourmand list is available here.

Watch as Canon restaurant executive chef Brad Cecchi prepares Tamarind Consommé over Coconut Dumplings in East Sacramento on Monday March 25, 2019.

Chef Quentin Truong prepares honey walnut prawns at Frank Fat's Chinese restaurant, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, in downtown Sacramento.

Ryan Donahue, co-owner of Mother restaurant, describes their po’boy sandwich. Mother is a vegetarian restaurant, so the sandwich is made with oyster mushrooms instead of the typical seafood.

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Benjy Egel covers local restaurants and bars for The Sacramento Bee as well as general breaking news and investigative projects. A Sacramento native, he previously covered business for the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas.

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