Land Park’s sacred cow
Sacramento, CA 95818
The Riverside Clubhouse felt like a familiar place even though I’d never been. I often passed by the restaurant on Riverside Boulevard in the Land Park neighborhood and wondered why the large fake brown-and-white cow was perched on its roof. And since SN&R hasn’t reviewed the place in more than 15 years, it was about time I ventured inside.
The building, it turns out, was once a former steakhouse called The Hereford House (hence the cow). In 2001, brothers Fred and Matt Haines of Bistro 33 and Suzie Burger took over, remodeled the restaurant and added a waterfall wall and three-tiered fireplace on the side patio, which contributes to the Clubhouse’s upscale, yet casual atmosphere. Last year, the Haines brothers sold the restaurant to Bill Crawford of Crawford Restaurant Group, but the name—and cow—remain.
My husband and I walked in for dinner one Monday night and were seated in a comfy leather booth near a fireplace. Our polite server was quick to offer recommendations. We ordered the evening’s special appetizer, salmon cakes with dill aioli ($8.95), plus cocktails. The salmon cakes were breaded and fried, and the creamy aioli balanced their salty crunch. My Pink Linen ($12) was a delicious balance of St. Germain elderflower liqueur and Ketel One Botanical Cucumber & Mint vodka with fresh mint leaves and a splash of tart cranberry juice. My husband tried the Sonoma Sour ($12), a red wine cocktail that didn’t hold back on sweet, fruity flavors and was also quite heavy with Orgeat syrup.
The dinner menu offers a variety of classic American dishes such as Grandma’s Meatloaf ($17), Shrimp Scampi ($17) and Beer Battered Fish and Chips ($16). My choice: the Pan-Seared Salmon with buttery mashed red potatoes and sliced summer squash ($22). The fresh, lemon-spritzed salmon was cooked beautifully and each bite was tender.
But the “Gaucho”-Style Steak portion was disappointing for the price ($21). It could have fit inside the little bowl of black beans that occupied a third of the plate. Still, it was well-seasoned and cooked medium-rare as ordered.
Besides dinner, the restaurant is also open for brunch and lunch—and most importantly—happy hour. The Clubhouse claims it has the best happy hour in all of Land Park. I haven’t been to every happy hour in the area, but with Amaze-Balls ($5 cheesy-fried knots similar to croquettes) and RC Loaded Fries ($7 shoestring potatoes piled with carnitas, cheese, guac and lime crème), it would be a challenge to beat.
During the happiest of hours (2 p.m.-6 p.m. daily), we sat on the patio and enjoyed the calming sounds of the outdoor waterfall. Our order of Brussels sprouts ($5) arrived with sliced green apples and drizzled with a honey and apple cider glaze. Although the sprouts looked appetizing, they were undercooked and hard to eat. Between bites, I sipped on a Raspberry Lemon Drop ($10), which helped. With a delightful sugar rim, the cocktail was a refreshing reprieve that danced between tangy and bright.
At the end of happy hour, I was thankful for the crafty cow that lured me into this neighborly establishment for a comforting dinner and a few cocktails and apps. I’ll be back for another Pink Linen on the patio this summer.