First Impressions visits dining spots that are new or have undergone transitions. Have a candidate for First Impressions? Email us at email@example.com.
The Selland family chose wisely in scrapping plans to move the high-end The Kitchen to Broadway and instead putting another casual, counter-service Selland’s Market-Cafe there.
Though the many luxury sedans and SUVs lining the parking lot of the new Selland’s – third in the mini-chain, after East Sacramento and El Dorado Hills – on a recent weeknight suggested The Kitchen would have drawn plenty of business in this spot across from the Historic City Cemetery, the tenor of Land/Curtis Park dining always has been more casual.
Downtown and midtown are just quick shots up Fifth, 10th or 16th streets when neighborhood residents seek fancy nights on the town. Within the neighborhood, the vibe seems to be the more relaxed, the better. And there seems to be plenty of business to go around, with newer spots such as Meet & Eat and Dali’s Kitchen joining longtime haunts Dad’s and Riverside Clubhouse as places where kids in soccer uniforms and parents seeking a beer or nice glass of wine are equally welcome.
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The new Selland’s, where booster seats sit mere feet from the wine rack, is catering to, and already drawing, this crowd. Spots in its 60-space parking lot were hard to come by on that recent Tuesday evening. The lot might get even tighter once a new Bike Dog Brewing tap room opens next to Selland’s in a renovated building that also houses an architectural firm.
But hunting for a space is nothing new to fans of the East Sacramento Selland’s, where parking spills onto residential streets. And maybe the crowds will die down at the Broadway Selland’s once the newness wears off. But no such drop-off appears to have happened yet at East Sacramento’s OBO’ Italian Kitchen & Bar, the Selland group’s year-old Italian iteration of the Market-Cafe concept.
Menu: Wood-fired pizzas and made-to-order sandwiches as well as entrees, sandwiches, salads and desserts that can be ordered from deli cases. The menu includes 30 items new to all three Market-Cafes.
Price point: Pizzas run $11.75-$17.25. Entrees top out at $18.75. Sandwiches run $6.50-$13.75. Full salads run to $13.75 and salad sides $9.25. Draft beers are $6-$8 by the glass, $18-$40 per pitcher. Wine: $6-$10 by the glass.
Ambiance: At 7,400 square feet, it is twice as large as the East Sacramento Selland’s. It’s also visually brighter, with white walls and a skylight. Yet it approximates the intimate feel of the original spot with homey touches such as wood flooring and tables, and brown and chartreuse color accents. The biggest selling point is the roomy patio, which holds table-shading umbrellas and is semi-enclosed by a low concrete wall.
Drinks: Wines by the glass and bottle, beers by the glass and bottle. Soft drinks include a house-made vanilla lemonade.
First impressions: If the rest of the ballyhooed renovation of this section of Broadway equals the quality of this place, it will really be something.
Though we ordered at the counter, the service staff was highly attentive once we were at the table, clearing plates and bringing to-go containers. We liked most of the new-to-the-chain menu items we tried, including an artichoke and spinach pizza with cream cheese that tastes like a pizza version of artichoke dip (we love this new local trend of restaurants speeding up our dip-delivery systems). The green-goddess chicken salad, with celery and apple, is texturally adventurous and delightfully herbaceous. The tart yet rounded vanilla lemonade, which holds tiny, visible bits of vanilla bean, also is a treat. But the cauliflower, bacon and olive pizza lacked oomph, partially because we did not pick up any heat from its Calabrian-chili oil component.
Try it if: You do not mind standing in line to order high-quality food at a counter. Or you like a nice patio.
Skip it if: You prefer full service when you go out to a restaurant.
Selland’s Market-Cafe (on Broadway)
915 Broadway, Sacramento
Information: 916-732-3390, www.sellands.com
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday.