Hawks Provisions and Public House
Sacramento, CA 95816
Sometimes the best meals are the most difficult ones to remember. Chalk it up to one too many glasses of wine, the delirium of a good space filled by friends or just a dreamlike state caused by a truly excellent twirl of pasta. Regardless, Hawks Provisions and Public House hits that sweet spot where the only thing you may recall is the feeling of being happy.
This is the highest praise I can heave at the darling eatery.
After what took eons, Hawks Provisions and Public House, a dual restaurant and coffeehouse-bakery, finally opened in December. The space effuses warmth and sophistication but relies on keen staff to keep things relaxed.
Small plates are varied, well-executed and affordable. Uber-crisp potato chips are served with a sweet French onion dip ($6); its earthy sweetness lingers around longer than heartbreak. This, I plead, should never come off the menu. A paté of pork shoulder and duck ($7), served with garlic bread and Armagnac-soaked prunes, is about as classic country French as you can get without leaving the United States.
Sunchokes don’t get enough love in the food world, too often puréed and forgotten under a slab of meat. Here, they’re deeply seared and roasted to the point that their natural sugars are so caramelized they taste like small nuggets of sweet potato pie. Paired with salty crisps of bacon, walnuts, Provolone and red frisée dressed in a warm vinaigrette, it’s one of the best salads I’ve had in years ($11).
In the fine dining world, steak tartare ($14) is the lava cake of the appetizer menu: seemingly always present, rarely exceptional. Yet, the creamy effect of cured egg yolk and crackly shards of baked Parmesan enlivens the often humdrum dish.
Homemade fusilli demanded our attention ($12 half order, $18 full order), with tender ribbons wound around briny Castelvetrano olives and arugula. It’s a pasta that doesn’t leave you heavy.
A Passmore Ranch red trout ($26) served with crispy skin—as it should be—was paired with charred trumpet mushrooms and leeks that brought out the lighter flavors of the fish. Sadly, it needed more acid and salt to fully come together.
The clear winner of the mains was the house-ground wagyu beef burger ($18). Too many burgers rely on gimmicks and largesse that obstruct the flavor of the beef. Not so at Hawks. This is simplicity at its best: beef cooked the blue side of medium-rare, Gruyere, caramelized onions and a sesame seed brioche bun. And the fries? Hot, crisp and salty. Think In-N-Out fries on the next level.
Some people have made a fuss about the cost vs. the portion size—and the gall of an $18 burger—but it varies from dish to dish. In some cases we couldn’t finish all of the food on the plate, while others left us wanting more. The value generally lines up with other higher-end eateries in the city, such as Ella Dining Room & Bar and Grange Restaurant & Bar.
The wine menu is certainly vivid and varied, and many wines can be ordered by the half-glass. Cocktails mostly riff on well-known classics, but a few unique specimens show up, such as the Stockton Griffon ($14) with rye, vanilla, Fernet and chocolate bitters.
Don’t miss dessert. Coffee cream profiteroles served with butterscotch sauce make for an elegant, satisfying ending ($8). And brunch is just as brilliant, where housemade cinnamon rolls ($4) and a smoked salmon bruschetta ($16) left me utterly smitten.
In the end, it’s shocking I recalled all these memories considering the emotional haze it caused; you’ll likely find yourself in a similar amnesia if you dine here.