Sacramento, CA 95816
Good Eats is aptly named. Its fare isn’t bad. It’s not great. And “Kinda Good Eats,” “Sorta Good Eats” or “Mediocre Eats” ain’t gonna fill the tables. To paraphrase David Crosby, Good Eats has been a long time coming with the potential to be a soon time gone.
Good Eats is located at the former home of the long-shuttered Andiamo and, back when dinosaurs and leisure suits roamed the Earth, the redoubtable Rosemont Grill. Give ’em this, though: Good Eats is a great space. High-ceilinged and spacious enough it almost feels like too little is going on inside to justify the expanse. The granite bar and all-world mirror behind it are impressive—and inviting. The outdoor patio with its trelliswork is a soothing delight, despite Folsom Boulevard traffic, on a warm but not cheese-melting October afternoon.
Actually, a lot is going on at Good Eats, which could be one of the problems. It’s a place to grab a cup-a-joe, a boutique market, a restaurant, a wine bar, a hangout. Whole lotta action under the intricately wood-beamed big top. Not all of it good. The bar is well-stocked. The on-tap selection swell. There’s a cozy sofa and a couple armchairs near the front door that, while a bit incongruous, seem like nice places to wait for a table—should one wish to.
Arika—Armenian spelling, she says—is an efficient, attentive and entertaining lunch waitress. Erin also hits her marks at dinner. But for a place whose website says “It’s all about the food” and whose raison d’être is “elevating the essence of food and the human connection it creates,” there ought to be more attention paid to it. Good Eats has some strong competition right in its own backyard. Within short walking distance is 33rd Street Bistro. Further up Folsom is OneSpeed. Good Eats needs to create a compelling reason not to keep walking or biking or driving and enjoying a splendid repast at either of those well-established dining establishments.
Regrettably, like Belshazzar, Good Eats is weighed in the balance and found wanting. Arika, may the saints preserve her, warns that the calamari with shaved fennel salad, as it’s identified on the menu, secretly is not a salad. But it contains one of the holy trinity—beets, figs and fennel—so it can’t be that awful. Indeed, it is not a salad. It is a pile of fried calamari in a stainless steel frying basket whose copious grease is soaking through the brown-and black-checkered paper surrounding it. The tiny coil of fennel sticks and dill—about the size of Hitler’s mustache—is limp and would be better raw than sautéed. The dips—marinara and a tarragon aioli—come in plastic cups. Although bland, the marinara is a better match for the calamari. More garlic. More oregano. More basil.
The $12 burger, however, is nicely flavored and actually medium, not a speck of pink to be found. While containing the predictable croutons and carrot shreds, the mixed green salad—french fries or sweet potato fries are the normal accompaniment—is a generous portion, although the honey mustard dressing is a bad call, leaving a weird aftertaste. The dressing is a better pairing with the baby spinach salad, a pricey $11 on the dinner menu. While the rosemary croutons are creative, a comparable salad could be knocked out in the Lucas Family Test Kitchen. Erin is a fan of the burger sliders, which, unlike the real burger, are hideously pink. Smoked cheddar, bacon and sautéed onions provide no redemption.
Perhaps the various pizzas are more salubrious. Or the quiche. Or the oven-roasted chicken. And it might be deliciously convenient to pop in on the way to one’s East Sacramento domicile and grab a bottle of wine and some of the menu items off the boutique market shelves rather than hassling with a home-cooked meal. But for those in the mood for a memorable meal, best to keep moving.