#217: Cibo7 Ristorante & Wine Bar

Last night I went to dinner at Cibo7 Ristorante & Wine Bar, located next to Blue Nami in the Stone Point shopping center on Eureka.  I didn’t know much about this place and assumed it would be like House of Oliver.  That was an incorrect assumption.  They have a lot of wine for sure but that’s about where the comparison ends.

I was meeting my mom and grandma at 5:30 but arrived a little early this evening.  I stepped inside to see if they were busy and check it out in general.  It was pretty quiet.  The bar itself was mostly full but the rest of the bar area and all the dining room tables were vacant.  I was greeted by the hostess who gave me a quick rundown of what they are all about when I said I was just taking a look while I waited for the rest of my party.  They serve Italian, Spanish & French cuisine, focus on local produce, make their pasta fresh in-house every day and get their seafood delivered fresh daily.  Their website is pretty sparse and does not have a menu, I take it that’s because it probably changes very frequently.

They are open Tuesday-Saturday 4-10pm with wine tastings Saturdays from 2-4 and happy hour (or Social Hour as they call it on their website) from 4-7 Tuesday-Friday.  I stepped back outside to wait and watch the steady stream of cars and people filtering into the shopping center for the evening.  They have a very nicely done patio area with some heaters.  It was empty at the moment aside from a new server who was taking time to study the menu for the night.

Soon we were all here and headed back in where we were asked if we had a reservation (we did not) but were seated immediately anyway.  We were the first ones in the dining room.  From this point on there was a very consistent flow through the front doors of people heading into the bar for happy hour.  Before long it was jam-packed and basically at standing room only.  I’d be interested to go back and see what kind of happy hour specials they do, because it’s obviously a very popular spot.  A side effect of this big crowd was that the noise level became quite high.

We started looking over the wine list while we were served waters and bread and our server removed the 4th place setting.  The wine list is large, as in a full-sized menu binder with many pages.  When my mom ordered their bottle of Pinot Grigio I asked our server, Mariah, if they had any beer.  She named off about 4 or 5 on draught and then mentioned that they have a list of bottles as well, which I opted to take a look at before making a decision.  She brought this over quickly.  The bottle selection was much better, with about 20 or so to choose from.  No stouts unfortunately but there were a couple of porters.  I chose the one I’ve never had (or seen before for that matter) which was Samuel Smith’s The Famous Taddy Porter from England [$8].  I found it interesting that they had five options for bottled water on this list as well.  If beer or wine doesn’t fancy you, they also have a fully stocked bar.

She soon returned with my beer and also to break the bad news that they did not have the wine my mom had ordered.  They only had that single Pinot Grigio so she recommended the 2013 Brooks Willamette Valley Pinot Blanc [$30].  She then proceeded to present my 12oz bottle of Samuel Smith’s as if it were a wine, so I figured I better nod my approval/acceptance, and she opened and poured it.  It was mostly pretty smooth and drinkable with just a bit of bitterness to it.  Not too bad.

Now focused on the menu, I discovered that this was definitely one of the pricier places in town.  I might even say top 5.  Entrees varied from the $30s to mid-$40s with appetizers starting in the teens.  We decided on an appetizer to start, the Waygu Beef and Dixon Lamb Meatballs (Fennel-Yogurt Cream, Redwood Hills Feta and Parsley Oil)[$15].  Our server asked how we would like these cooked, and after we all looked at each other, shrugging, my mom said medium.  None of us had even considered this question in advance for meatballs.  We ordered our entrees along with it.

It took a long time for the appetizer to come out, nearly 30 minutes.  During this time we munched on the bread.  This was a smallish plate with thin slices of some kind of delicious bread with a crunchy crust and soft middle.  Served with it was a garlic aioli type spread.  The garlic was strong, I smelled it as soon as it had been set down in the middle of the table, and it was delicious.  As soon as we had finished the last piece of bread (not joking, it was probably still being chewed) the plate was taken and replaced with a new one with more bread and new garlic spread.  That was nice.  During our wait our server came by and refilled the wine glasses and waters before anyone even realized they were getting low.  She was pretty on top of things throughout the night.

Finally, the appetizer was delivered.  5 good sized meatballs sat in a circle in the center of a large round dish, topped with crumbles of Feta and surrounded by the fennel-yogurt cream and parsley oil.  These were amazing.  They were incredibly complex in flavor with both meats and the rich sauce, oil and cheese all hitting you at once.  I highly recommend these if they’re still on the menu if/when you go.

After we had finished it was another wait for the entrees, a bit over 30 minutes this time.  Around now the dining room had nearly filled up and the bar was still packed.  The crowd looked to be mostly in their 40s and up and all pretty well dressed.  I guessed mostly due to the prices and that many were getting off work from the nearby law and financial offices.  Not long after we polished off the last meatball the plate was removed along with our appetizer plates.  Like a ninja, our server quickly and silently replaced used silverware and also set a steak knife in front of me (which I was not expecting based on my entree selection).

At last, our main dishes arrived.  First my mom’s Stromboli (Pomodoro Sauce, House Fennel Sausage, Hand Pulled Mozzarella, Prosciutto Di Parma, Crimini Mushroom and Grana Padano)[$21].  The sauce came in a separate small dish on the side (and there looked to be a lot of it).  Next up was my grandma’s Roasted Baby Beet Salad (Wild Arugala, Pomegranate Seeds, Redwood Hills Chèvre, Baby Herbs, Truffle Vinaigrette, Balsamic Reduction)[$14].  This was a very nice looking salad with all the beets and pomegranate piled up in the center in a bright red cone, topped with bits of goat cheese.  The truffle vinaigrette was sending it’s deliciously rich aroma to me from the moment the plate was set down and throughout the meal.  Both said they enjoyed their dinners for the most part, though the beet salad was labeled “OK”, mostly because it was just a beet salad, which I guess is hard to argue with.

My entree arrived last, but not far behind the others.  It was riding on the largest plate they could conceivably find.  It was borderline silly.  I had ordered the Pan Rendered Muscovy Duck Breast (Grass Valley White Polenta, Chorizo Braised, Tin Roof Farms Collard Greens and a Blood Orange-Chipotle Glace)[$31].

When I ordered this I was a bit taken aback because the server asked how I wanted it cooked.  I’d never encountered that question in regards to poultry and didn’t know what to go with so I told her however the chef prefers.  What I received was basically duck meets steak.  This is why I was given a steak knife.  It was much more like a steak in consistency than any duck I’ve ever had before.  The top was pan-fried crisp and the bottom was closer to what I had in mind – slick, greasy, dark duck meat.  In-between it was almost exactly like a beef steak in terms of texture.  The flavor was undoubtably duck however.  It took me a couple bites to get into this, mostly because I was so taken off guard I guess, but I really enjoyed it from then on out.  The blood orange-chipotle glace was sweet and had a deep, rich orange flavor that wasn’t tart in the slightest.  It was fantastic.  I enjoyed the greens as well as the polenta, which was effectively prepared and presented like mashed potatoes.  The chorizo didn’t seem to have much flavor to it.

After dinner we were presented with an adorable mini-version of the menu that had their desserts, including Deconstructed Tiramisu and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding, along with a selection of dessert wines including ports and sherries.  We were all pretty full however so we called it a night.

Overall I was mostly impressed by Cibo7.  Of course, I went in expecting something much more casual and low-key like Oliver.  The prices are certainly up there.  My mom agreed with some reviews that she had read saying that it is overpriced.  I feel like the service and food was up to par, but the speed of the kitchen definitely needed some improvement.  This isn’t the place where I expect to be in and out in less than an hour, but 30 minutes in-between apps and entrees was excessive.  Throughout our visit the manager (perhaps owner?) checked on us a couple times and then said good night from the patio as we headed out. As I said earlier I’d like to see what the happy hour specials look like because while I might not make this a regular stop, perhaps a quick drink and appetizer in the evening would be nice here.  I feel like it fits in pretty well in Stone Creek, and with the crowd it had on this Thursday night it should be around for the foreseeable future.  This is probably the most solid collection of restaurants in a single spot in Roseville.

AM2: Fancy Funnel Cakes

Just a quickie for tonight.  I have dinner plans tomorrow for a new place in Roseville and I’ll post about that by Friday evening.

I had a hankering for a Funnel Cake today after I saw a Groupon for Fancy Funnel Cakes in Rocklin this morning (seems to be still available, not sure for how long though).  I didn’t get it, but I decided I would definitely go tonight for dessert.

I popped in at about 5:45PM.  The building looked to be under renovations so they didn’t have their normal signage up.  I wasn’t entirely sure they were even open until the person came out from the back to serve me when I walked in.  There were some random items including a couch and an empty fish tank on the floor up against the front windows by the door that made me wonder what was going on here.

The woman greeted me but didn’t say much more as I looked at the menu.  After looking at the menu online earlier in the day I knew I wanted to get the BMF (bacon & maple), though it took me a minute to find it.  It was weirdly silent.  No music, no kitchen sounds, nothing.  Once I ordered and payed I sat down in the clean, bright and empty dining room.  The silence gave way a bit to the fryer exhaust vent that she turned on as she prepared my cake.

In just about 4 minutes she called out “here you go” from up at the counter and I retrieved the box.  I had asked for it to go when ordering but grabbed a fork to eat some there while it was nice and crisp.

This thing was loaded with bacon.  Aside from the edges it was pretty much covered.  The maple syrup was not as easy to see but it was obviously there with the way the powdered sugar looked to be absorbing it and losing it’s fluffy appearance.

Scooping into it with my plastic fork was fairly easy.  The crispy batter broke apart with little effort.  Taking a bite I was pleased at the texture, crisp on the outside and a little soft and chewy on the inside.  The amount of bacon on this made it surprisingly less sweet than I expected.  As I ate more I realized that that was not entirely true, however.  It was incredibly sweet, but also quite savory and salty with the bacon.  The maple syrup was consistent throughout.  It was ridiculously rich.

I’m going to go ahead and say it.  Might have been a bit too much bacon.  Maybe.  Other than that, pretty amazing.  Neat to not have to go to a fair to get a funnel cake too, though eating it in a dining room felt a little weird.

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#216: Ancho Mexican Grill

After a short break for the holidays, being sick and traveling (the trifecta), it’s time to get back to work!  This evening I checked out Ancho Mexican Grill for dinner.  I know little about this place other than it opened following a bit of controversy with the closing of Baja Fresh in the same location.  I don’t think I had ever even been to the Baja Fresh while it was there.

I popped in over the weekend while I was passing by to take a look around and grab a menu.  I was pretty surprised by how big the place was.  I was expecting something closer to the I Love Teriyaki next door which is considerably smaller.  The food appeared to be very Chipotle-like, offering burritos, bowls, tacos and salads with an assembly-line situation going on.  Strangely, burgers are an option as well.  They also serve breakfast in the form of omelettes, breakfast bowls/burritos and egg combos.  One other location can be found out in Downtown Sacramento.

Returning tonight at about 5:30pm there was just one other customer in at the time, and he was on his way out as soon as I got my food.  The large dining room was mostly clean, just a couple tables showed signs of previous customers.  I approached the counter and started to take a look at the menu.  Just then a woman emerged from the office to the right and greeted me.  I told her I’d need a moment, so she tidied some things up while I decided.  I figured I’d go with something similar to what I get at Chipotle, but that plan immediately fell apart because they oddly didn’t have pork.  (This makes me think it’s the same owner as the late Baja Fresh since removing pork from their menu was what caused all the hubbub).

I went ahead with my plan anyway, going with chicken instead.  This was a burrito bowl.  I chose cilantro rice (option of Spanish rice), pinto beans (option of black beans), grilled onions & green peppers, spicy chicken (option of non-spicy chicken), cheese, guacamole (+ $1.59) and sour cream.  There are a handful of other toppings/fillings you could add.  This looked good and was close to my typical Chipotle order.  Sliding up to the register she asked if I wanted chips and/or a drink.  I mentally shrugged and went for both.  My total came to just over $10 with tax.  After examining my receipt I discovered that I was not charged for the guac.  The chicken bowl was $6.99, soda $1.99 and the chips $0.99.

I picked a seat in the now empty dining room, filled up my soda and stopped at the salsa bar.  They have three to choose from here, pico de gallo, salsa verde and “6 chiles” salsa.  I went with the 6 chiles which looked dark and possibly smokey.

Back to my seat and a quick photo-session later I was digging in.  Based on appearance alone I had high hopes for both the guacamole and the spicy chicken.  The guac looked fresh and actually made out of avocados, having chunks clearly visible (as opposed to the mystery green paste that some places have which doesn’t really even taste like avocados).  Indeed, it was as excellent tasting as it looked.  The chicken flat out looked spicy.  It had a deep reddish-brown color and I could see little bits of peppers on each piece.  It definitely packed a lot of flavor and a little bit of heat.  It was surprisingly a bit on the fatty side which made it extremely tender, and probably even that much more flavorful, as a result.

All the other ingredients were on par with Chipotle, or even Freebirds World Burrito, fresh and tasty all around.  The chips and salsa, however, were the least exciting part of my visit by a long shot.  The 6 chiles salsa was just plain hot with not a lot of flavor.  The heat was on the verge of overwhelming my tastebuds and ruining my enjoyment of the bowl.  I only got a few chips in before I decided I wasn’t planning on eating any more.  The chips were about the same as most boring chips at a taqueria.  Nothing like Chipotle’s fantastic and salty chips.  I suppose with guacamole they would be acceptable.  Otherwise I just don’t see a point in ordering them again here.

Disappointing chips aside, Ancho Mexican Grill surprised the heck out of me.  I don’t know why but I apparently went in with medium expectations and didn’t anticipate the flavorful chicken and quality ingredients at all.  I’ll definitely return.