Steppin’ Out – Poverty Flats

Poverty FlatsWell, last week I finally got the chance to stop by Poverty Flats, the new restaurant at the corner of Pleasant Valley and Oak Hill roads (about 3 miles east of Diamond Springs), talk with the owners and try some food.

I arrived about 1 p.m. on Friday and there were still a few diners eating and enjoying lunch. Most of the lunch crowd had finished and left, but people continued to arrive as the afternoon went on.

Since my alter ego with a different palate, Russ Salazar, hadn’t arrived yet, I took the time to introduce myself to the two owners, who also happen to be cousins, Jeremy Wells and Dereck Recek.

Jeremy is the chef and I don’t use that title lightly. He has lots of experience in the kitchen (previously worked at the Sierra Nevada House as did many of their servers) and produces great, attractive and delicious dishes.

Dereck is the pitmaster and a barbecue expert with over 20 years of experience at barbecue catering. He is very involved in the preparation of their housemade sausages, barbecued ribs and most everything else. Together, they are a great team.

Just as Russ arrived, they asked if we would like to try samples of several dishes rather than just order from the menu. I immediately replied, “Yes,” without even asking Russ.

The first dish to arrive was their housemade (they make everything they can) clam chowder (New England style). It was delicious and grew on you as you ate it. Needless to say, neither of us left a drop in the cup. There was one ingredient with a different texture and taste that we couldn’t identify. It turned out to be pancetta, which is an Italian cousin of bacon. Dereck said they tried a lot of different ingredients and settled on pancetta as the best.

While we were finishing the chowder, one of the friendly servers brought us a sample of their housemade pork sausage, which they serve at breakfast. I love sausage and it was moist, delicious and nicely, but not overly, seasoned. We ate all of it.

A pair of their Pulled Pork Sliders were next: slow roasted pulled pork, piled high with slaw and fried buttermilk crispy onion slivers in a delicious bun (Russ really liked the bun). They were not only delicious, but beautiful when presented on the plate (another of Jeremy’s talents, presentation).

While we were enjoying them, Russ asked one of the servers how many came in an order. “Four,” she said. Then he looked at me and said, “Could you actually eat four of these? That’s a lot of food.”

Of course we had to try a housemade, grilled sausage with a natural casing (they called it a barbecue sausage), which was served to us cut into bites and accompanied by their great barbecue sauce. Nice snap from the skin, great texture and a wonderful flavor. That seemed to be Russ’ favorite because he hoarded it.

Next on the agenda was a delicious specialty breakfast dish called a Steak Quesadilla. It consisted of two grilled corn tortillas, stuffed with Cheddar cheese and thinly sliced steak, topped with country potatoes, eggs, salsa and sour cream. It was piled high on a large plate and there was enough food there for two or more people. I ended up taking most of it home…yum!

I loved their housemade salsa. It is spicy but not hot, and full of flavor. I tried to put some on each bite of this delicious dish. Normally I would ask for hot sauce to put on an egg dish, but I wanted to get the true flavor of the combination and was delighted I did.

Russ kept digging out the tortilla, cheese and meat. He thought them might be making their own tortillas, but that was one of the few things they don’t make.

We were pretty well filled by then, but then we were brought what they call Chicken Cavatappi Pasta. Cavatappi is the Italian word for corkscrew and that is what the pasta looks like. It holds more sauce than straight spaghetti.

In the dish with the pasta was sauteed chicken, mushrooms and tomatoes, in a wonderful white wine cream sauce. It was delicious, perfectly prepared, and the sauce, well, neither of us could stop eating it. Russ even used the slice of garlic bread that came with it to sop up the sauce it was so good.

Finally (we thought) came a sample of their signature Smoked Ribs. They were on a bed of battered French fries and came with a dipping cup of their own barbecue sauce. The fries, even after 20 minutes, were still crisp.

I love ribs and these were pull-off-the-bone delicious. There were two for each of us, but we decided to take home one because a server arrived with a sample of their Fish Tacos, filled with ale battered cod, slaw, chipotle cream and their salsa.

Russ, the purist, thought slaw was a bit different for a taco, but that didn’t stop him from enjoying one. I filled mine with their salsa and loved it.

Several times during the meal I had mentioned that we had really too much to eat, but that didn’t seem to slow down the delivery of food, which included as the last course, a piece of delicious cheesecake drizzled with chocolate and caramel and topped with a sliced strawberry.

We opted to split one serving while discussing everything we had sampled that day and how good it had been.

On there Breakfast menu are a large list of omelettes, egg dishes, several benedicts, Biscuits ‘N’ Gravy, pancakes, waffles, a Breakfast Burrito and lots of sides.

After breakfast, they serve a large variety of sandwiches: Pulled Pork, Blackened Chicken, Salmon BLT, Vegetable and others with names like “The Big Dipper,” “Grandpa Lee’s,” “B.L.A.S.T.,” “The Gobbler,” and “Kimba’s Chicken Sando.”

Burgers include the Poverty Burger and Cheeseburger, Double Poverty Burger, BBQ Bacon Burger, California Burger, Blue Cheese Burger, a Spiced Black Bean Veggie Burger and more.

For starters you can select from Potato Skins, Beans and Rings, Crab Stuffed Mushrooms, Sliders, Fried Calamari, Onion Rings, Mac ‘n Cheese Bites and more.

Family favorites include the Fish Tacos, Fish ‘n chips, their Rib Basket, Char Broiled and Hand Cut Top Sirloin, Fried Shrimp and a Soup and Salad Combo.

On the dinner menu you will find the Smoked Ribs, Char Broiled Top Sirloin and Rib Eye, Uncle Marvin’s Chicken Dinner, Shrimp and Linguini and Linguini and Clams.

Poverty Flats also features a large Kids Menu for breakfast and lunch/dinner and specials every day.

Yes, they serve beer and local wines, have a banquet room and love to cater events.

The hours at Poverty Flats are daily from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m, with dinner service starting at 5 p.m. For more information call (530) 642-2347.

Where did they get the name Poverty Flats? Dereck told us that their grandfather, who moved from South Dakota to California many years ago, came from a family of nine children and used to say, “We lived in Poverty Flats.” Thus, in his honor, the name.

Oh, for St. Patrick’s Day, Dereck will be brining and curing their own corned beef brisket. He might even smoke some and make pastrami. He, Russ and I are pastrami lovers and spent some time discussing that subject.

Great food and a friendly staff. Give them a try.

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