Oh, heavenly brunch

After reviewing a series of restaurants that didn’t quite measure up, I began to suspect my tastes had gotten so excessively refined that nothing would please me anymore. So, it was with relief that I concluded a recent meal at Cascades with a—gasp!—great restaurant to recommend. Though Cascades is a fairly expensive dinner proposition, it has a few reasonable entrees and would make a wonderful lunch destination. It also serves a fixed-price Sunday brunch ($22) with a wide selection of entrees.

What you won’t find at Cascades is much carryover from one menu to the other. For whatever reason, the restaurant prides itself on offering very different items on each of its three menus. So, if you fall in love with something you ate at brunch, say, you won’t find it at any other time of day.

Cascades has more than a dozen salads and sandwiches to offer at lunch, most of which are priced at less than $10. The sandwiches have an upscale feel to them, such as the sandwiches featuring a sliced leg of lamb, blackened mahi-mahi and filet mignon ($14.50). The restaurant also offers a trio of pastas, including a very interesting penne served with scallops, wild mushrooms, peas and Asiago cheese in a bell-pepper ginger coulis ($13).

The prices on the dinner menu take a substantial jump upward and include a truly decadent starter of premium local sturgeon caviar, at $88 for two ounces. Most entrees are in the $20-$25 range; it will be interesting to see if Roseville residents continue to respond positively to such a high-end restaurant after spurning Birch Creek just across the freeway.

Cascades describes its menu as “new American cuisine.” However, Pacific Rim-influenced might be more accurate. The starters include an ever-changing array of sushi, ahi sashimi with poki salad, shredded ginger pot stickers, and a sea bass crusted with miso sake and served with sticky rice. Several traditional high-end restaurant staples also make their appearance: osso buco, grilled rack of lamb and the ubiquitous apple-wood-smoked chicken half.

Because we were unaware that brunch was our only option, we went to Cascades at lunchtime on a recent Sunday. The kitchen was gracious enough to rustle up a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon for the junior member of our party; the rest of us settled into the three-course meal, which comes with the choice of soda, champagne or mimosas. All brunch diners get a basket of adorable mini-muffins and mini-croissants along with a small pot of apple-cinnamon or orange butter.

The second-course selections were imaginative and light; unfortunately, my first choice of a potato cake with smoked-salmon tartare and tabiko caviar was unavailable. I thought about having the caramelized grapefruit with candied bananas and grilled strawberries, but I ended up choosing the prosciutto-wrapped goat cheese with grilled pineapple and pears and a balsamic glaze drizzled over the top. Although the dish teetered on the verge of being too much, in the end, my palate enjoyed the contrast between the earthy cheese, the crisp and sweet fruits, and the salty ham.

The main-course selections at Cascades range from brunch items like a crab, asparagus and mushroom frittata with prawns and a prime-rib hash topped with a poached egg, to more substantial selections like apple-glazed pork chops.

My husband had a roasted-herb-encrusted prime rib served with a smooth horseradish cream. It was accompanied by perfectly grilled fat spears of asparagus and some bright-tasting smashed potatoes. The meat was everything a slab of prime rib should be: lightly pink, tender and juicy, with just the right amount of roasted crispy bits on the edges. I stole as much as I could under the guise of needing to review it accurately.

My selection, cashew-crusted salmon in a Key-lime beurre blanc, was equally delicious. It was perfectly tender and flaky throughout—no mean feat given the thickness of the cut. The cashews and lime butter were delicate enough to complement the flavor of the fish without overwhelming it. The salmon was served atop a bed of Asian-style pasta, thin Chinese noodles in a yummy nutty sauce. Individually, both elements worked very well, but, though the two did not clash, they did nothing to enhance each other. That was a minor quibble, though, and I polished it all off regardless.

Mention must be made of our waitress, who was professional, warm and efficient—rare traits indeed to find all packaged in one person. On the slightly negative side, the open kitchen means you are treated to the antics of the staff, leading my husband to comment that Beavis and Butt-head were cooking our food. All in all, though, I highly recommend venturing out to try Cascades. The quality of the food is exceptional.