#227: Porter’s House of Draft

Before I get started here, a little shameless self promotion.  This week I began a side mission to go everywhere in Rancho Cordova for lunch, but with a twist: salads only!  If you ever find yourself out that direction and in neat of a light meal, check out Rancho Salads.  I’m doing one every weekday, so I should be finished by the Fall.  Anyway, on with Eating Through Roseville!

I finally made it to Porter’s!  Well, I did go once before to have some of the very limited Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout when they first opened, but this time was for food and thus the blog.  Porter’s House of Draft is a new taproom/restaurant located at Foothills & Pleasant Grove.  They opened in early-mid May but were not serving much in the way of food at the time of my first visit due to some electrical/fire code issues that were being worked on.

I was joined by my friend Justin for lunch today.  We arrived just before opening and headed in as soon as the open light turned on.  If you’re coming in from the bright sunlight, as I did both times I’ve come here, you will be greeted by a much darker environment that gives your eyes a nice rest from squinting.  One side of the room has the walls covered in distressed wood panels, the other wall is painted an even darker brown, and the bar, tables and floor are also dark.  The lighting isn’t as on display during the day since a lot of light still makes it’s way through the tinted windows, but I think it would be really cool later at night.  Vintage style long-filliment bulbs put off a very warm glow and look really neat against the dark browns.

They have nearly 30 taps, and a cooler with bottles on top of that.  One thing I was really happy with on my first visit, aside from my delicious glass of Bourbon County, was that there was a lot for me on their list, which is to say lots of non-IPAs and Pale Ales.  Hops are huge right now, but I don’t care for them at all so it is always nice to see a good selection of dark, smooth and malty beers available.  So far it looks like that’s still the case.  Today however, we decided to pick a bottle from the cooler and went with Firestone Walker’s Stickee Monkee (2015) [$20].  This 22oz bottle was plenty to share, especially at 12.5%.  It is officially a barrel-aged central coast quad, though Justin claims this is a made up style and simply calls it a barleywine.  Whatever the style, it was Ah-Mazing.  Very rich and complex.  I was sipping my half of this happily for the hour+ that we were there.

Of course, we were here for lunch primarily, so we were given menus by the bar manager, Barclay.  He was up on a ladder updating the blackboard with the days selection while we pursued this, but came down frequently to check on us, and soon another table.  He knows his beer and will effortlessly tell you about who makes it, where they make it, what which ingredients or brewing processes help to give it it’s distinct flavors, and surely much more.  Their menu is available on the website, but it seems to change frequently enough that the one we saw was a bit different, so here is what it looked like for us.

We both picked out a burger, I went with the California (Ground chuck, brisket and tender rib meat combined in one patty, topped with sliced avocados, lettuce, tomato and a delightful sriracha aioli) [$11] and Justin with the All American (Cheddar, tomatoes, lettuce, onions and thousand island spread on a toasted Truckee sourdough roll) [$10].  I was also curious about the Mini Corn Dogs (A generous portion of mini corn dogs.  Fried to golden brown perfection.) [$7].  The corn dogs came with fries, so I upgraded my fries to onion rings (malty ale battered onion rings, fried hot and crunchy).

The food all came out at the same time.  It had taken a bit of time, maybe 20-25 minutes, but we were not in a hurry and had told them as much, so I didn’t really have an issue with that.  Also we were the first order to the kitchen so they were probably still ramping up.  The 2nd customer’s food seemed a little quicker.

Everything looked great.  The mini corn dogs were cocktail wiener-sized and there were 11 or 12 of them, so a good amount (we were genuinely curious what quantity would warrant “a generous portion” in the description).  They were as advertised, perfectly crisp and golden brown.  They were similar in flavor to traditional fairground corndogs, though perhaps a little less greasy.  The fries were basic but also crisp and tasty with a bit of ketchup.

Justin had ordered his burger without much (or any?) of the produce.  It looked pretty simple by that point.  But he enjoyed it, I was only a bite into mine when I looked up and his was already completely gone.  My onion rings were really good.  Extremely crunchy and it looked like they had even been thrown on the grill after being fried.  The thousand island-like sauce that came with them was pretty tasty as well.  My burger was piled high with produce.  I kind of tilted it and let out a lot of the lettuce that added probably over an inch to the height.  The tomatoes were still cold, insulated from the patty by the lettuce.  I ended up eating most of these individually because they were so ripe and delicious looking.  Eventually I was down to the burger with avocado, a bit of lettuce, one tomato and aioli.  It was damn good.  Cooked perfectly with a pink center, the beef was just right and flavorful.  Even Justin, who is far, far pickier than I, gave it high marks.

Barclay hooked us up with a complimentary slice of cheesecake (which I’ve seen them mentioning on their Facebook page over the last few days) for dessert.  It was drizzled with caramel syrup and sprinkled with black Hawaiian sea salt.  I’ve never had cheesecake with salt, but it totally makes sense with the caramel.  In addition, I’ve never even heard of black Hawaiian sea salt.  It was a really visually interesting contrast with the coarse, black grains against the creamy white cheesecake.  This was fantastic and a perfect way to end lunch.  I finished of the last little swig of Stickee Monkee, which went well with the cheesecake, and we were on our way.

I knew that beer-wise I was very happy with Porter’s, but I was not expecting the level of food that we encountered.  To top it off I think the prices are really fair.  It’s great to have a place like Porter’s on this side of Roseville and I hope they stick around for a long time.

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AM5: Prime Wok Express

Hi everyone!  Apologies for the infrequent posting lately.  In addition to just being busier than usual I was just on a 3000 mile road trip.  Nothing particularly post-worthy to report food-wise, other than a taco bus in West Yellowstone, MT and more Mexican, a restaurant called the Red Iguana in Salt Lake City, UT.  Both were awesome, check ’em out if you happen to pass through either place.

Back home, tonight I wanted something quick and tasty, preferably delivery or take out so I could get back home, relax and catch up on some TV.  Prime Wok Express was the answer.  This is a fast Chinese restaurant on Lonetree Blvd at the far north end of the giant shopping center in Rocklin where you’ll find RC Willey, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Blue Oaks Century.  If you somehow can resist the aroma of unbelievably good BBQ that you have to drive through as you pass by Lucille’s Smokehouse, you will find yourself in a pretty ordinary business type area of the shopping center.  Hidden in the back corner is Prime Wok Express.  Years ago, before I started this blog, I happened upon the sign they often stick out near the entrance to the closest driveway and decided to check it out, and I’m glad I did.

I usually describe it as Panda Express, if Panda Express was really, really good, and if it was cooked when you ordered it.  When you walk into Prime Wok Express, it clearly could have even been a Panda Express in an alternate universe.  They have the heat tables and everything, they just don’t use them.  Instead they have loads of supplies such as to-go boxes, utensils, fortune cookies, etc. and they use the counter for final prep before handing you your to-go bag.  There are a lot of tables, and I’ve even eaten here a couple times, but dining in is really nothing special, this place is all about take-out in my opinion.

They have a pretty good sized menu, however if you go with a 2-item plate, as I always do, you have a much more limited selection of items to choose from.  That’s really my only gripe with this place.  Instead of the full 54 items, they have picked out 14 that you can have in the combo.  That said, they’re still good.  Tonight I went with the orange chicken and the kung pao chicken with chow mein as the side.  The guy that took my order then met me around the corner of the counters at the register to pay.  The total for this combo plate was $12.89 after tax.  That probably seems a little steep, and the first couple times I came here I thought the same thing.  When you get your food though, it makes more sense.  I received my order in just over 5 minutes on this early Friday evening.  They had 4 people working the kitchen, more than I’ve ever seen (though I often visit during off-hours), so it was a bit faster than normal, but they’re usually less than 10 so it’s pretty quick no matter what.

The standard-sized foam container is always heavy here.  I decided to weigh it this time and found that it was a fraction of an ounce shy of three pounds.  When I cracked it open the food was piled to the top and flattened out from when they squeezed it close.  You really get a ton of food here, and that’s why $13 is no problem.  This is easily 2-3 meals, which is great since Chinese food reheats so nicely.

As for the food itself, it’s easily the best fast Chinese food around.  Some of the better sit down restaurants like Rose Garden, Leo’s Kitchen and Bambu are better quality but carry a higher price (and slower service if you’re in a hurry).  With the orange chicken (and some other chicken items) you get a choice of light or dark meat.  I went with light but one day I will give dark a shot, it kind of sounds like it would be amazing.  This was super flavorful and the chicken very tender inside the still somewhat crisp shell of deep fried batter (it had about 15 minutes from being boxed up to me digging in, so it was a bit steamed on the way home, still good though).  The kung pao chicken uses dark meat and is covered in a thick, dark and rich sauce.  Big chunks of chopped zucchini, onions and a few peanuts make up this item.  Chicken and zucchini are both very plentiful and tasty.  It was not as spicy as the “spicy” warning on the menu might have you believe, but carries a nice little heat.  I’m sure you could ask for more if desired since they cook it to order.  The chow mein is one of the more delicious ones of any I’ve had, the noodles are dark and saturated with whatever dark sauce they are cooked in.  It reminds me of how my Mongolian BBQ noodles turn out with the tons of sauce I use.  Where chow mein is hit or miss at a lot of places, here since it’s freshly cooked up it’s better than most and very consistent.

Overall it’s probably one of my favorite take-out joints.  If it were closer to home I’m sure I’d go a lot more.