Come for the wine

58 Degrees & Holding Co.

58 degrees & Holding Co.

1217 18th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 442-5858

Occasionally, as a reviewer, I find a place that I want to like more than I can justify. We all have spots that we frequent despite underwhelming quality or ambience. They have other qualities that make them worthwhile, nonetheless. For me, 58 Degrees & Holding Co. is such a place.

Located in the highly trafficked “Handle District,” on 18th Street near Capitol Avenue, 58 Degrees has been around for seven-and-a-half years.

It’s benefited greatly by its locale—despite keeping a low profile on social media—and by being an ideal location for buying wine by the bottle: There isn’t a lot of Midtown competition in that area.

The staff is very knowledgeable and helpful to customers looking for a special bottle or glass, and customers can even store their personal stashes in the restaurant’s climate-controlled lockers. The ambience is lovely—all wood and rough-hewn brick, with dim lighting and comfy sofas or tall tables for chatting.

The food, however, is not a strong suit.

Admittedly, most people frequenting a wine bar are not usually looking for a big meal. So, logically, the menus at 58 Degrees tend toward snacks and small plates, with a few larger dishes for heartier appetites. Unfortunately, they also tend toward saltiness.

While this is somewhat common in restaurants, and also cleverly encourages more drinking (hence more ordering), it left us with salt-cured palates. That’s not the best situation for enjoying the nuanced flavors of wine or food.

However, there are a few standouts. The bruschetta options are among them. The menu lists six flavor combinations, and diners can choose three for $9. The butternut squash with pistachio and blue cheese was a fall-flavor knockout, while the sweet-onion jam with soppresatta and manchego rocked that salty-sweet combo that works so well.

We tentatively ordered the bruschetta of warm burrata with sea salt and truffle oil because I love that oozy, fresh-mozzarella type of cheese. Many chefs overuse truffle flavors, though, thinking more is better. In my book, less is more with that pungent aroma. This combo was so lightly anointed with the oil that it pleasantly teased your nose instead of assaulting it.

Another hit is the Truffled Four Cheese Macaroni. It has a lot of competition in town, what with The Rind located nearby (1801 L Street, Suite 40), but this version holds its own. The silky sauce is flavorful and goes nicely with the little orecchiette pasta. Some crumbs on top add a welcome crunch. Unless you’re really hungry, though, get the half order for only $5.

Less appealing is the freshness of some ingredients here. A cheese plate, otherwise lovely with a fig-raisin compote and plenty of bread, sported wilted arugula under the compote dish. Similarly, the organic baby-greens salad had tired and rusty leaves that should have been eighty-sixed a day earlier.

The Spice-Crusted Ahi comes with avocado, tomato relish, burrata and chili dressing for a gorgeous array of colors. The ahi was just barely seared and fresh. The avocado, though, was brown, which really marred the effect.

If you order carefully, the menu serves well for snacks with a taste of wine—a perfect place to meet a friend. Don’t miss the 3-ounce pours to taste a few varietals without overimbibing. For a nice lunch or dinner, though, you might be better served at one of the neighboring addresses.