Steppin’ Out – California Kitchen

Eight months ago Russ Salazar and I stopped by this same location – 251 Main Street in Placerville – to try the food at Torino’s Bar & Grill. Last week we stopped in again, but this time it is a different restaurant known as California Kitchen.

It was about 1:00 p.m.when we got there, so after sitting down and looking over the menu, we decided to forego breakfast and split a couple of sandwiches.
Salazar, who has now learned how do to my job better than I, immediately asked our server what most people ordered. She answered,“The California Kitchen Benedict, Monte Cristo (available as both a breakfast and lunch) and Saul’s Favorite ( a fried chicken breast served on grilled ciabatta and topped with fresh spinach, smoked bacon, mozzarella, two eggs and a chipotle cream sauce).”

I thought about the Monte Cristo or their NY Style Reuben for a minute, but then saw the Santa Barbara Steak Sandwich, made with grilled tri-tip, bleu cheese crumbles, sauteed mushrooms, grilled onions, lettuce and chipotle mao on a ciabatta roll. That looked especially good.

Salazar immediately noticed their Nuevo California Torta, which is a Mexican style sandwich made with roast pork or tri-tip and served on a telera roll with onions, lettuce, tomatoes, refried beans, avocado, pickled jalapaños and queso fresco (fresh Mexican style cheese).

We ordered both the steak and torta sandwiches and added one side of their crispy French fries. As you can guess, neither of us needs a whole serving of fries.

A short time later our server brought us our order and everything looked delicious. The eye gives you a hint about the food and everything was beautiful.

We both started with the fries, which were hot and, as advertised, very crispy. I didn’t ask if they were coated or not, but they were some of the best I have eaten in quite a while.

I moved on to the steak sandwich and it was delicious. The ciabatta roll had great flavor and the meat was not overcooked (I asked for medium and got medium). If there was anything I would change on it, it would ask them to cut back on the bleu cheese crumbles. As delicious as they were, they somewhat overpowered the other flavors. Salazar, when he got to this sandwich, made the same comment to me, even thought I had not mentioned it to him beforehand.

Before trying the torta, I looked at it on the cut side. The sandwich was nicely put together with the roast pork, onion, tomato and lettuce centered and covering the whole roll. I hate it when you get half way through a sandwich before discovering that something was only on half of it.

From the first bite it was delicious and full of flavor, with an added slight tang from the pickled jalapeño slices. It was both Salazar’s and my favorite.

As I have said a number of times before, “The crust makes the pizza and the bread makes the sandwich.” The bread on both of these sandwiches was excellent.

Their large menu varies from a basic breakfast to French toast, flapjacks, Belgian waffles, several Benedicts, omelets and a number of house specialities. They also serve what they call “Old California Breakfasts,” and “California Farm Scrambles,” both of which looked very interesting.

The menu continues with a number of salads and a list of nearly 20 different and delicious looking sandwiches. Those are followed by half a dozen burgers, a bunch of desserts and, of course, a kids menu.

At first look I thought is was a bit pricy – the sandwiches were each $8.99 – but when they came and I saw them and then tasted all the fresh ingredients, I decided that was a very fair price.

Not only is the food good, the restaurants is beautiful and clean, with some tables near the windows so you can watch the passing crowd (I love that in a restaurant).

Again, California Kitchen is open daily from 7 until 3, serving both breakfast and lunch. For more information give them a call at (530) 622-7500.

For you old-timers, they are located where La Casa Grande used to be.

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