Plan A was Plan B (Plan B Cafe - Sacramento, CA)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Plan B Cafe is easy to remember. Partly because of the name. It's quirky. Questioning. You ask yourself, "Why not Plan A?" It also sounds like birth control, which makes me giggle and lends itself to a wide array of dirty jokes between you and your dining companions.

Plan B is the name given after Chef Tyrone Hunt, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York, and Lionel Lucas a lithe, first-generation American's first plans for a restaurant fell through. In the end they developed a delightfully modest yet sleek restaurant. Nestled in a shopping center deep in Pocket, it's cradled between a tacky Mexican joint a a frozen yogurt store. Not a place you would expect to find a place like Plan B.

The white walls and crisp the dining furniture minimal and metallic. The open bad seating and the comfortable and well cared outside patio make you curious - if this was Plan B, what great concept was Plan A? the space is so efficiently utilized that it's able to accompany a sizable group of customers without fail. There is an issue in waiting for the bathroom (also sleek and chic, but an infinity mirror in the bathroom unnerves me for some reason) in that you have a choice of blocking the bar entrance for the waiter or standing behind a door which, when opened, may smack you in the face.

As I met up with my friend Amber, we sat down an perused the menu which is simple and straightforward, but appealing. various presentations of steamed mussles, tartlettes, fish, and a Plan B hamburger (that uses ham, not beef! dig that culinary pun.). They offer a few seasonal specials as well, and desserts are made in house.

After Amber and I ordered we sat down to a game of catch up, discussing work, farming (the girl grows EVERYTHING), and writing. After a while we noticed the bread service was tardy. Then late. Then we called a missing person's report. It seemed odd, as it was only 6:30, and less than a third of the tables were filled. Once the bread did come the four slices of tiny, hard as rock baguette were unappealing paired with the impossible to spread ice cold butter. We both dubbed it a fail and pushed it to the side.

The actual dishes however are resounding successes for the most part. The lamb chops were perfectly cooked. While the inside was delightfully rare, the outside had a nice bit of char to it and a delicious parade of spice that enlivened not only your meal, but energized your person as a whole. Delicately drizzled with a bit of mint syrup, the herbal cool flavor the mint kept the spice in check and created a taste that wasn't so much a melding of flavors but it seemed to translate in my mind as a wide array of beautiful colors. It's hard to describe, but delightful to eat.

It was served with a homey ratatouille that was artfully prepared. The vegetables were all perfectly diced, flavorful, and crisp, yet still hot. The trick to a ratatouille is to properly cook the tiny cuts of vegetables without them weeping into a revolting mash. This was balanced, flavorful, and allowed the vegetables to speak for themselves. The dish, in turn, spoke volumes of Chef Hunt's training and skill.

The mashed potatoes were a bit pasty for me. Way to much butter for me, it was almost like eating a spoonful of Brummel and Brown. Amber seemed to enjoy it, but I left it on my plate.

Amber, the dedicated vegetarian and tartlette fan, ordered the fennel-leek tartlette. The crème fraîche the smeared the tartlette was deliciously sweet and the perfect sour counterpoint keeping the leeks in place. The fennel was a bit weak, and the anchovies were invisible. Still, it was a crisp delightful tart that was pleased the palate in freshly green-French flavors. The actual tart was also a contemporary twist, being a light homemade, crisp flatbread rather than the traditional molded tart crust.

We finished out meal with a pear tart. A flaky tart with vanilla pastry cream, a lightly poached pear with a hedgehog cut, and a delicious glaze. Served near a bit of ruby-red raspberry coulis that perked the senses, a playful seasonal juxtaposition to the early pears that are slowly appearing in the market.

The only real problem I had with the night was when the bill came. The prices for most everything on the menu range from $8-$18. Fine, right? So when they told me the specials, I assumed that it would be about the same. Not so, it was about $25, which is about fair, but took me a bit aback. Seriously, this little financial trip-fall with zero warning kinda pissed me off.

And so Amber and I parted ways and paid our bill. We slated to make plans to dine again soon. And, I think, we both came to the final conclusion that Plan B should from this point on be our Plan A.

Plan B Cafe
7600 Greenhaven Dr # 23
Sacramento, CA 95831
(916) 392-7600


  1. I'll have to try this place! It's literally 3 minutes down the street from me. Funny that I never noticed it before, but I usually go to the Vietnamese place in the same plaza.

  2. I'm glad you liked out little neighborhood eatery.. but I hear they are planning on moving, unless they changed their minds. I hope they did, they have a great Sunday brunch also.

  3. We too had bad luck with the bread at Plan B. Ours tasted like it had sat, uncovered, in a musty fridge for a few days.

    Our entrees were great, but the service was SLOW.

    Of course, it took my selling my house in the Pocket for a nice place to open up!

    The Mexican place next to Plan B, Vientos, is fantastic & not tacky! :)


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