Keep on truckin’
West Sacramento, CA 95605
Some of the food-truck operators in Sacramento that have managed to sidestep the draconian ordinance that regulates them and still thrive have opened brick-and-mortar restaurants. Broderick Roadhouse, co-owned by the people who run Wicked ’Wich, is one such restaurant, and it serves the type of heavy fare that most local food trucks unfortunately seem to have settled on.
Broderick specializes in Pittsburgh-style sandwiches. This type of sandwich originated at a restaurant called Primanti Bros. in the ’30s and consists of grilled meat, coleslaw and french fries served between two thick, fluffy pieces of Italian bread.
I have not been to Pittsburgh, but if that sandwich fell apart upon first bite as Broderick’s does, I don’t think it would have lasted past the Great Depression. Here, the bread is airy and tastes bland—and it’s no match for the towering fried cod served on this sandwich. I have no beef with french fries; a good fry can be a thing of beauty and a joy forever, but its inclusion in this sandwich adds nothing more than another inch to its height. Broderick’s also serves a black-bean burger. Making such a burger delicious is a challenge, and here the crisped outside and curried spices of the patty are a good start, but the slab of beans is dry, dry, dry. I’ll never know if the minuscule smear of sauce it’s served with would have possibly livened things up, because the burger falls apart in my hands immediately, and I ultimately just pick at the patty with my fork.
A girthy flank-steak sandwich served on a roll is also unwieldy but deliciously so. Gorgonzola can be an overwhelming flavor, but in this case it adds some funk to the chewy steak, and the grilled mushrooms make it extra savory.
The Old School burger arrives with a medium-thick patty grilled exactly to order, with the barest strip of pink in the middle. The mustard in the topping and the house-made pickles zing it up, but the pink tomato slices are decidedly “old school”—and not in a good way. This is a workaday burger.
The “small” order of the “banh mi” fries offered at Broderick is enough for at least three and is topped with Vietnamese-style pickled daikon and carrot, pulled pork, and a sickly sweet sauce. The flavor of the pork (also candy sweet) clashes with the Vietnamese flavors of the rest of the dish. The remaining fries sit soggily in a puddle, untouched.
On another visit, the banh mi fries are an entirely different beast. Served with only a drizzle of sauce, the fries are crisper and hot, and the pork exhibits the kind of delicious char one expects from a real banh mi.
The servers, some of whom customize their black T-shirts with artfully placed holes held together with safety pins, are courteous but sometimes overwhelmed. The space is dark and heavy feeling, with chunky wooden chairs and a central long bar.
The cocktails would have passed muster a few years ago, but compared to other current drink lists found in Sacramento, they’re tame and uncreative. The Prospector tastes of bourbon and bitters, with no hint of the promised muddled cherries and oranges. The Hair Trigger is just rye and ginger, fancied up with the addition of pricey Fever-Tree ginger beer; the waitress says they’re out and just brings me a pint glass filled with rye and ginger ale—not exactly an elegant drink. The beer list is well-chosen, but again, the bar seems to be out of a few of the selections at any given time, and the servers seem a bit confused about what they do have.
Perhaps if the Sacramento City Council ever gets its head out of arena deals and repeals the restrictive food-truck regulations, it will clear the way for trucks with a more creative bent, and everyone will have to step up their game. Not just the Kings.