Last week one of the owners of “Windfall,” Robert Henderson, and I had the opportunity to have lunch with the owners of Beef ‘n’ Brew in Diamond Springs, Mike and Vicky Fagan.
It had been almost exactly three years since I interviewed Mike and Vicky right after they opened Mike’s Grill a bit east of this restaurant, at the corner of Pleasant Valley and Oak Hill roads. At that time he told me he had some 36 years of experience with cooking and the food business, and loves what he does, which is very apparent when you meet him.
He has worked in of all kinds of restaurants and owned several. Their last restaurant before Mike’s Grill was Mike’s Beef and Brew in Oakley, CA, which had high ratings from all the social rating services.
“I am attached to the Placerville area,” he told me. “I spent a year at El Dorado High School when I lived with my mother in Pollock Pines. I have a brother and a niece in the area and a son in Grizzly Flat. We were thinking about another restaurant and my son noticed this location was available.
Last January they moved to here at 4252 Fowler Lane, #101, just south of the Diamond Springs Post Office, opened Beef ‘n’ Brew and business has been booming ever since.
The four of us sat at a table while Mike filled us in on their gorgeous new place and new menu. We were obviously there to try some of the food and he asked if we wanted to order something from the new menu or have him ask the kitchen to prepare a sampling for us. Samples, the magic words to a food writer.
While we were waiting to see what delicious dishes would come out of the kitchen, I asked Mike what their number one sellers were. “At breakfast people seem to stick to the standards, like ham and eggs,” he said. “At lunch the top burger is the new buffalo burger, followed by our new Kobe beef burger.”
“And at dinner too,” added Vicky.
“Oh,” added Mike, “we have new hash browns at breakfast for you to try,” as he got up and headed back into the kitchen.
Our first treat were their new deep fried artichoke hearts, which is served as an appetizer with an avocado-chipotle-ranch dipping sauce. Light and delicious. I could have filled up on those. Vicky said that they are her favorite.
All of a sudden a plate of hash browns appeared. They really looked good and, I found out, tasted even better. “They have quinoa, kale, spinach and sharp white Cheddar cheese in them,” said Mike. “ They are delicious, customers love them and they even cook faster.”
Then magically appeared two huge, fully outfitted burgers and a side of their well known, crispy fries. The burgers both had half pound patties, one was buffalo and one was Kobe beef.
I might mention here that very little of the hugely expensive Kobe beef is exported from Japan. What we get is from the same breed of cattle, Wagyu, but raised in America. The meat is more marbled and has a great flavor. It is often referred to as American Wagyu or American Kobe.
The buffalo burger was fantastic. Cooked to a perfect medium-rare, it was delicious and surprisingly very moist, even though it is one of the leanest meats. I can see why it is the number one burger.
The Kobe burger was very, very good, but not up to the buffalo, in my opinion. I think it had something to do with the meat being ground less coarse than the buffalo. While we were trying the burgers, Mike mentioned that he is going to be trying other meats, including ostrich.
Even though by this point we should have been finished, Mike brought us a full serving of their Flat Iron steak to try. It came with a whiskey-peppercorn sauce and was accompanied by lightly sauteed vegetables, garlic-cheddar mashed potatoes and a great piece of garlic toast.
I love flat iron steak and often cook it at home. Theirs was excellent, and the sauce was a perfect fit. The vegetables were crisp and the potatoes were delicious. I took some of it home for dinner.
Their new menu is fantastic, with lots of new dishes. At breakfast you have to try their pancakes, combos, scrambles, omelets, and, don’t forget those potatoes. At lunch, salads, sandwiches and the fantastic burgers you can get prepared many ways and always the way you want them cooked. At dinner people rave about their entrees, like pasta dishes, several chicken dishes, ribs, steak, steak and lobster, shrimp and grits, boneless short-rib and ribeye steak. And, if you are really looking for a treat, they have a USDA Prime New York steak. Prime Rib is served Thursday through Saturday evenings and you can even get it with lobster.
They get their bread from Bella Bru’s speciality bakery and their meat is the top few percent of USDA Choice. What else could you ask for.
Soda, coffee, tea, milk and lots of great local beers and wines to have with your meal.
Hours are from 7 am. until 9, except on Sunday when they close at 8. For more information give them a call at (530) 344-7296.
For a view of their new menu go to www.diamond-center.net/ and click on Directory and then Beef n brew.
Oh, check out their great covered patio and their upcoming special events.
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