Sacramento, CA 95818
They’re onto us at Taylor’s Kitchen. Despite the warmth of its exposed-brick interior, which is brightened by large canvases of floral still lifes and Dali-esque ceiling fans, the manager eyes us suspiciously.
“It’s the guy with the notebook,” he says tonelessly upon the occasion of our second foray. I claim to be interviewing my dining companion, Don Wilcox. No one buys it. Whilst away washing my hands in the men’s room, which seems transported here from a bordello, several employees ask Don if this is, in fact, an interview. Don assures them it is. The staff remains skeptical.
Skeptical or not, they set a delectable spread on both visits. Unlike me, Don does not worship at the FBF altar—the holy trinity of fennel, beets and figs—but he is certifiably beet crazy. Does Taylor’s have a salad for him. There’s a floor of golden beets on which is built a veritable Wailing Wall of red beets. Feta, walnut pieces and sweet onions lodge in its crevices. Sprouts adorn. Red-wine vinaigrette invigorates.
Regrettably, like Walter Donovan at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, I choose poorly. There are vast swathes of unused real estate on the narrow rectangular plate dotted far too infrequently with a handful of items the menu alleges to be antipasto. Laboring under the now painfully obvious misconception the antipasto would be as robust as the heaping platters common in Italian eateries, the paucity of olives, marinated mushrooms and salami is almost laughable—assuming Don had ordered it. Hopefully, the portions available for purchase at the market next door are less Lilliputian.
Taylor’s cooking staff, whose diversity recognizes Harry Belafonte’s adage—“Man Smart, Woman Smarter”—redeem themselves with the entrees. Again, Don gets the better part of the bargain with the Buffalo short ribs. Tender, juicy and remarkably similar in taste to non-Buffalo short ribs. For polenta partisans, Taylor’s version with sage is memorable.
While the pear chutney and different mustards allow palate-pleasing experimentation, the chicken sausage is not enshrined in the Chicken Sausage Pantheon. Good. Not godlike. The warm German potato salad, accompanying the sausage, however, is wunderbar.
Once burned, twice shy on the antipasto, next Taylor’s visit it’s tatsoi. The Japanese, chardish green with the spoon-shaped leaves is combined in a bit of choice culinary choreography with pomegranate seeds (more please), walnuts and goat cheese tossed with walnut vinaigrette. As noted, once the pomegranate seeds give out, things get a bit bitter. Having been to heaven previously, Don can’t be moved off the beet salad.
This second visit, we feel special and depart from the menu after the salads. Don goes for bluenose sea bass, which, as he says accurately and succinctly, is “delightful.” Way. The mushroom sauce is artful. The manager pitches the pork special—a 25-pound leg of porcine perfection. Pig is a personal preference, but the sale becomes even easier when he says another member of the holy trinity—fennel—is part of the marinade. Damned if there’s any hint of its licoriceness in the somewhat salty finished product, however. Not quite the Dante’s Paradiso of the beet salad, but the pork’s plane is well higher than that of the sausage.
For the trinity trifecta, the cheese plate, at least earlier in the fall, features figs and provides a pleasurable oh-so-happy hour counterpoint to sipping samples of the varied selection of wines whilst lounging in the high chairs at the counter. While, alas, the season of figs wanes, a recent cheese plate features a syrupy mix of port and shallot, a pleasurable stand-in.
Vegetarians aren’t shut out. The portobello burger forces a difficult choice between cheddar, gorgonzola and jack. How about all three? Desserts, like the eggnog thing, are divine. Service is attentive and, as is the food, authoritative.
A swell, higher-end, neighborhood bistro.