Well Played (Mulvaneys Building & Loan - Sacramento, CA)

Saturday, February 24, 2007

"You have to go to Mulvaneys!" This is what everyone who has been there keeps telling me, so to put a stop to the harassment and satisfy my own curiosity I finally made a reservation for Rob and I.

I had called and made a reservation the week before for 8:00, however when I called to confirm my reservation the night of, my name had vanished and we were placed in a table for 9:15. I was a little bit irked by this but I let it slide as I made the reservation on the night of Valentine's Day. Still, it's writing my name in a book, kinda hard to botch that task up.

Upon walking in at 9:15 for our new reservation we were floored at what we saw. From outside, it's a nondescript red brick building, inside are vaulted ceilings, book shelves filled with cook books, well set tables, and charming decor. It was classy, but not over the top. Another plus is the sous station out in plain sight for the entire dining room to watch and be amazed, and the entry to the kitchen is wide and spacious allowing you to see the clean and busy kitchen. Quite awesome.

We started with an amuse bouche of endive with a bit of crab and something else which escapes me. Tasty. Exactly what I wanted. I couldn't get enough. I was looking forward at what was to come.

The asparagus soup I had was second to none. It was creamy, bold, and the asparagus was unfettered. Small bits of cheese also surprised me in each spoonful. I couldn't figure out if they were bits of parmesan or mozzarella or something else?). They would sit on your tongue and tease you with their taste, then vanish like little Houdinis before you could pin them down.

Rob ordered the goat cheese and beet salad. Tasty and utilizing local ingredients (all dishes here utilize local ingredients, and the menu allows itself to be altered daily in lieu of seasonality) the cheese was creamy yet crumbly and tasty. I never tasted any, but anyone who can convert Rob to love goat cheese is doing something right.

His main course consisted of some pork that was just, how did he put it? "This is what pork should be." He was right. It was insane shibby good. The meyer lemon mashed potatoes were interesting, Rob loved them, I was undecided; it seemed contradictory to me. His wilted spinach with garlic was insane tasty as well. Like never had better wilted greens ever tasty.

I ordered duck with some wild mushrooms, wild rice, and some wilted greens with garlic. The duck was upsetting; it tasted like a Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage. One so tough, you couldn't cut it. I gave Rob some to confirm and he agreed, it was foul fowl. The wild rice was delish, I so love the soft crunch and texture of wild rice. The wilted greens were the best I ever had, the razor thin garlic reminding me of that scene from GoodFellas. The wild mushrooms were meaty and bold with a foie gras glaze that just enhanced the entire dish.

Service is tops here. It's courteous and friendly without being overbearing. The wait staff is knowledgeable about the menu and wine list, and work seamlessly. They are also more than willing to ensure you are leave happy and planning to come back again. The said duck? The tough Jimmy Dean duck? Well, the waitress asked me if it was okay as it was relatively untouched on my plate as she cleared the table. I reluctantly told her my issues with it, to which she replied, "Oh no! I'll tell the chef immediately!" The plate was whisked away, where in the kitchen I saw the kitchen staff gather around the offending fowl.

I was mortified. The chef was gonna come out and bitch slap me or a sous chef or something. I waited for the onslaught, but nothing happened. The bill came back - presented in not a billfold, but a cookbook where others had left their adulations in the bindings, natch - and was told "The duck was taken off the bill."

I was speechless. I mean most places in my experience just say sorry or offer you a free dessert, not make an entire entree gratis. Damn. In thanks we took the entire price of the entree, and put it towards the tip. Good service like that deserves it.

Overall, a pleasant dining experience. One of the best I've had in Sac.

Mulvaneys Building & Loan
1215 19th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 441-6022


  1. Wow, it sounds like you found a great place! I love it whenever restaurants strive to do better and actually care about what people think of their food- and that is what it sounds like here!

  2. That's happened to me once before, I was astounded too! And how awesome are you put the cost towards the tip? One of the many reasons I love ya, a heart of gold!

    Ari (Baking and Books)

  3. pics? where are the pics?

  4. Sorry, but no pictures. Rob and I wanted an uncomplicated meal at a nice place uninterrupted by cameras. Just have some faith that the place and the food look good.

  5. I am very impressed at Mulvaney's desire to make you happy!

    As usual G...love your review!

  6. you show remarkable restraint. my entire review would've revolved around the easy pun of removing the bill from the duck.. or wait... nevermind.

  7. This place sounds awesome! We haven't been able to find their website (don't think they have one). We're planning on going there soon...thanks for the info! -K

  8. I'll definitely have to check it out if we get a chance to go back to Sac sometime!

  9. I enjoyed your review, and based on it I would probably try Mulvaneys. I had a similar experience ordering duck at another establishment (The Broiler) in downtown Sacramento about a year ago. The duck was just OK, maybe rubbery. I suspect it is hard to cook well because it is a rich meat and has to be roasted perfectly to remove excess fat without drying the meat. I did not complain (maybe I should have), but my dining companions all enjoyed their meals and the service was very good. Many diners there were wanting to leave in time to get to local theater, and they were cognizant of that without making us feel rushed.


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