It’s in the delivery

Ravenous Cafe

7600 Greenhaven Dr.
Sacramento, CA 95831

(916) 399-9309

Can somebody please send an e-mail to the produce guy for Ravenous and have him get his butt over there earlier in the morning? He’s messing way too much with a good thing.

First visit, the hostess/waitress complains the produce guy is late. Second time, upon arrival at 11:30 a.m. to accommodate my luncheon companion Sabrina, who must be back downtown by 1 p.m., we’re told the produce guy has yet to arrive, and so lunch won’t be happening until well after noon, effectively shutting out Sabrina, who is eager to eat here because of a friend’s raves.

Shut out. By the goddamn produce guy!

Third time? Not the charm: The oven’s pilot light won’t stay lit, so Nicole, a pushover for tomatoes on the natural and further energized by my raving about the heirloom tartlet with havarti and pesto, is unable to order it. A gifted oven repairperson might have a gifted meal in their future.

The hope is that these vicissitudes are scattered, not steady. Although, as Nicole notes, steady or scattered, are these really things to share with the folks out front?

The point is maestro Mark Helms, formerly of Tapa the World on J Street, deserves better. Whole lotta good happening at this teensy place at Riverlake Village in the Pocket, the former home of Plan B.

The first Ravenous meal features a triple threat that turns out to be too much for one person to finish. A cup of the so-not-puréed potato leek soup features an herb-scattered broth, in which swim potato chunks, leeks and Spanish ham. It is served in a generously sized bowl, more than $3.75 gets in many other places. The $11.95 heirloom tomato tartlet is nearly a meal in itself. The cheesiness of the blend of havarti, piquant pesto and heirlooms is offset by the topping of mixed greens drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Of the three preparations of mussels, the waitress—the only set of hands who, more than once, appears eager to welcome another—says, without hesitation, paprika. She oughta know. Smoked paprika, that is, with some garlic, wine and cream included. Yes, the broth is tasty, but it’s the mussels that are magnificent. Massive and meaty, these mussels would trigger uncontrollable tears of gratitude in my periodic dining companion, Frank Damrell, a shellfish fiend. Of the majestic mussels, the waitress says with obscene understatement, “Came out good today.”

Things aren’t so good on the visit with Nicole. Tartlet tubed, she opts for the gnocchi, which, we’re told, is homemade, along with the tagliatelle. Nicole is a gnocchi nut. She waxes fondly of its treatment at the hands of La Trattoria Bohemia, OneSpeed and Biba. No wax job today.

“The Ravenous gnocchi arrived looking more like small pot stickers—much bigger than typical knuckle-sized potato pillows. Many of them looked browned or seared, which could be OK, but these had the consistency of pot stickers, too,” she wrote. Oily without much taste, to paraphrase the rest of her assessment.

Nicole is far keener on my mushroom and scallops risotto with its laurel of arugula. As am I, despite the $16.95 price tag. We are both awed by the corn bisque, which has a hint of licorice or curry and even more awed when informed it is comprised merely of corn, potatoes and leeks. Maybe he can’t tell time, but the produce guy has got some killer leeks!

Again, the soup is a big portion. Nicole, an unflaggingly kindhearted person, offers compliments for the fresh produce—despite its tardiness—the sprigs of colorful fresh flowers on each table, the white linen napkins at lunchtime and the prompt and happy welcome and seating.

Despite the gnocchi misfire, to paraphrase California’s governor, “We’ll be bock”—but bearing a list of alternative produce guys.