#183: Rustic Grains Bakery/Cafe


Today I was joined by my sister-in-law to go get reubens from Roundhouse Deli on Church street for lunch.  Surprise!  They were closed.  I am having really bad luck with this sort of situation lately.  They had a sign in the window that read “This deli is closed until further notice.”  Great.  With so few places on my list these days it’s hard to change plans on the fly.  Luckily, however, there was something that was just across the train tracks on Vernon, Rustic Grains Bakery & Cafe (or is it Boundi?  More on that later).  We headed over.

At about 11:10 we were walking down the sidewalk of Vernon and turning to go through the front door.  They had a couple of tables and chairs set up just outside.  I mention the tables because once inside I wasn’t entirely sure if they were open.  I mean, they were, the sign was on and they had some stuff on display, but it also looked like the place was in the middle of being re-built.  There was a younger guy behind the counter helping a customer, and a man, who we soon discovered was the owner/operator, was sitting at one of the several tables that were pushed together towards the back.  All three were talking and just a few steps into the bakery we were greeted by both.  The owner beckoned us to come in further and try some samples that he had out on the counter.  At this point he got up and started talking to us about how he only makes things with good, basic ingredients.

He spoke with a heavy European accent (I’m terrible at identifying accents, but I would take a wild stab at Greek….maybe) and was quite the character.  He was both serious and jolly at the same time.  Soon we were handed slices of bread to try as he described how it took 36 hours to ferment and that it was only made with simple, quality ingredients and squished a piece of it with his hand on the counter to show us how it bounced back into shape, more of his proof that it was real bread.  Honestly, it was pretty damn good bread.  The woman that was being helped as we walked in was heading out the door and stopped to come get a sample of the bread and tell us that she loves the place and despite it opening and closing repeatedly, she keeps coming back.  Later we learned that he had closed the bakery recently for a couple months for personal reasons and they were starting fresh again with a new menu, which they were still working on.  With that we asked if they had sandwiches for lunch, and we all headed down closer to the front of the store to talk about that.  The offerings were very limited today, basically just a vegetarian or beef meatball type sandwich.

The vegetarian consisted of a falafel with hummus, eggplant and Sriracha sauce.  The younger employee asked the owner if they had chicken today, who then said just beef, and proceeded to slice up one of the meatballs for us to try out.  As he handed me the little plate he said that you know meat is good when its good cold.  And it was good.  We decided to get one of each type of sandwich and split them.  He continued on talking about how all his meatballs were hand made with quality ingredients and then went on to say something along the lines of “I make things my way, and if you like it that’s good, because it’s healthier for you.”  That’s an interesting stance to take and I suspect some people would be rubbed the wrong way by it, but I had to laugh at the time and thought, sure, that sounds good enough to me.  They got to work on those and we picked out Coke from the very limited selection of drinks (a couple sodas, mango Jarritos, coffee and tea), then sat outside in the nice weather while we waited.

Maybe 5-7 minutes later the two baskets with each sandwich were brought out.  They were served on buns of what looked like the same type of sourdough we had tried out earlier.  Each one seemed to have the same set of toppings consisting of hummus and eggplant (or some sort of eggplant salad perhaps?  There was definitely more than just eggplant there).  Actually I didn’t realize that eggplant was not purple-colored throughout until I looked it up just now.  While we were eating it we weren’t sure that it actually had it in there, but sure enough, that’s what it was.  Both sandwiches were great.  The bread was fantastic and fresh and the hummus was delicious.  Even the falafel, which when you think about what it is made from sounds kinda boring, was pretty tasty.  I’ll be recommending this sandwich to my vegetarian brother.  The Sriracha was not overpowering as there wan’t a ton of it.  It worked alongside everything else nicely and was a nice addition adding just a touch of zippy spice and chili flavor with the mild hummus.

As we got close to finishing up, my sister-in-law asked me if I wanted to split one of the pastries that she had noticed earlier.  While she was inside getting these I wondered in to listen in a bit and take a photo inside.  Basically these are cronuts (croissant/donuts), or, since that’s a trademarked name by the guy that makes them in NYC, these are Boundis, named by one of the owners grandchildren.  He handed me a business card (below) that featured them.  This is where I wonder if this place is still called Rustic Grains, because the card had a web address to boundi.com, which if you visit seems to be a full site for the bakery with no mention of Rustic Grains.  The original/old Rustic Grains website still exists though, so I have no idea what the deal is.  I’m kind of suspecting that we visited right in the middle of a transitional and rebranding period, but I didn’t ask at the time so who knows.

Both of the Boundis were incredible, especially the chocolate covered one.  It literally is a cross between a croissant and a donut, tasting like good, fresh versions of each in every bite.  I had been skeptical of the cronut craze that went on a while back in NY, but if this is anything like those, then I think I get it now.  I recommend checking them out.

This was a strange, strange visit.  Mostly due to the state the bakery was in.  Disorganized, under construction, limited in choice.  It did seem clean though, and the most important part to me was that the food was solid and the owner was very passionate about his food, quite vocally so.  He was super nice and thankful for our visit and gave me a cup of coffee to go with the Boundi on the house.  I haven’t mentioned any prices in this post because I honestly have no idea how much each thing was.  I can say that it was about $20 total for all of it, which seems very reasonable.  Due to the state of the cafe in it’s apparent re-opening I would give it 3.5 of 5, but given a little time and more fleshed out menu I could see this being a very nice little option right in the heart of downtown Roseville.  At the very least it definitely seems to be a good place to get a loaf of bread or pastry for the moment.

Website(s): (not sure which one is right, maybe both!)

#173: Erik’s DeliCafe

Time to get back to work!  Today I had a pretty light and early lunch and found myself very hungry when I got home from work.  I was anticipating this and had picked out Erik’s DeliCafe in advance.  This is a Bay Area chain that popped up here in Roseville sometime over the summer.  We seem to have the only non-bay area location at the moment.  This one is located at the corner of Lead Hill and Rocky Ridge, in the shopping center which is strangely quiet due to Walmart’s odd closure.

I cruised in just before 4PM.  The little strip where it’s located always seems to be busy with cars, but I bet half of them are purely employees for the handful of small businesses in the building.  I stepped inside to a dining room that was pretty quiet, save for the jazzy music that was playing.  It kinda took me back to Sim City 3000’s upbeat soundtrack.  This was originally Pasta Village.  The basic layout remained similar, but overall the whole place has undergone a complete makeover.  The colors and counters were all different, as were the tables and chairs (which more often than not seem to get reused by the next place, although if I recall, Pasta Village relocated to Lincoln rather than closing entirely).

I was greeted by the friendly cashier and told her that I had no idea what I was getting.  This wasn’t really true, but I wanted to go over the menu a bit more before ordering.  I had seen Erik’s Classic Holiday Sandwich on the website and was pretty certain it was the one.  Studying the menu again, this time in person, I noticed they had clam chowder available.  I’m always a sucker for clam chowder so I mentally added that to my order immediately.  None of the other sandwiches really jumped out at me like the holiday one had.  Erik’s Classic Holiday Sandwich is: Roasted Turkey Breast piled high and served with traditional Stuffing, whole Cranberry Sauce and Erik’s “Secret Goo” on sliced Rosemary Sourdough Bread [$7.29].  The first time I read “Erik’s Secret Goo” I kind of cringed and thought “That doesn’t sound too appetizing” in my best internal George H. Bush Simpsons voice.  I’m sure that it’s just some sort of mayo-based sauce.

Stepping up to the register, the cashier turned her attention back to me and I placed my order of the holiday sandwich, a cup of clam chowder [$1.85] and a fountain drink [$1.09].  I paid and was handed a small jar for my soda and a number to place on my table.  I filled up my soda and picked up a spoon on my way into the dining room and had just picked out a table when the cashier brought out my cup of chowder.  This was actually a cup, in terms of size, compared to the small bowls you get other places.  It was appropriately priced however and seemed like a decent value.  The appearance was just slightly on the translucent side, but other than that about what you expect.  From it’s aroma I anticipated a more authentic clam chowder flavor.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some chowders that I love, such as Claim Jumper’s, that don’t really feature clams as much as you would expect.  This one however was more on the end of the spectrum where you would find chowders served along the coast where they’re actually bringing in fresh clams daily.  I’m not going to go as far as to say it was that good, but it was a pretty solid clam chowder considering where I was having it.  I looked at a menu that was at the table and saw that they offered a sourdough bread bowl of it and decided I would probably be back to check that out.

Just four minutes into my soup, my sandwich arrived.  As with most “production” foods, this one did not look quite like the photo on their website (first image below).  It didn’t look bad though, perhaps just a bit thin.  The cranberry sauce was bright and clearly present atop a decent amount of thinly sliced turkey.  Hiding underneath that looked to be a skimpy layer of stuffing.  Picking it up I realized it was a warm sandwich.  I was totally expecting cold.  The bottom seemed warmer than the rest, perhaps the stuffing was the warmest part.  It made the bottom slice of bread a bit mushy and a slight challenge to get ahold of at first.  Once in hand I held it upside down where it felt more secure.  Biting into it, I was met with the rich and intensely flavorful cranberry sauce.  The turkey seemed to be warm, though not as warm as you’d think it should be.  It seemed a little bland in comparison to the cranberry.  In fact I found the entire rest of this sandwich to be very bland.  The stuffing really didn’t add much except heat and a little bit more bready texture.  I could see the “secret goo,” though that too was lacking any noticeable flavor.  The cranberry sauce stole the show here, and being a little on the tart side it wasn’t very enjoyable.

I had really come here hoping to love this sandwich.  I’ve not typically a fan of cranberry in most forms, to be honest, but there is one sandwich with it that I can never miss when I’m in town, and that’s The Bobbie from Capriotti’s of Las Vegas.  It’s similar in it’s ingredients and is one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had.  Perhaps the standard I had set was too unrealistic.  Maybe Erik’s regular offerings are a better representation of this DeliCafe.  The soup was solid and a reason to return on it’s own.  I might give a salad a try if I come back for more chowder at some point.  The Classic Holiday Sandwich however, I cannot recommend.

#161: LJ Cafe

Today I thought I’d do a bit of a mini post considering where I went.  LJ Cafe is the little semi-permanent shop set up in front of the Home Depot on N. Sunrise.  I’ve had this place rattling around in my brain for a few weeks deciding whether or not to include it.  Today I figured “why not?” since I happened to be pretty hungry right after work and I didn’t have the time to set aside for a full on post somewhere else.

I don’t know much about LJ Cafe.  I know this has been a little stand for quite a long time.  The sign says “est. 2012” so LJ’s itself is fairly recent (they’re younger than this blog, which says something, although I’m not sure what).  Aside from the fact that it’s basically a parked trailer it’s set up pretty nicely.  The menu is bright, clean and easy to read (click the photo of it below for a bigger version).  The structure itself looks well maintained and the presentation by the order/pickup window had little pumpkins for the season (and a sign saying they had pumpkin pie).  Seating consists of a few metal tables with umbrellas.  I suspect most people coming here are taking their orders to go though.

I arrived at 4PM sharp and looked over the menu.  It reads a lot like a coffee shop combined with a little league snack shack.  The main items are mostly variants of hot dogs, and they also have a hamburger & cheeseburger.  Some other items are nachos and pretzels.  They also serve breakfast including churizo burritos, breakfast sandwiches, bagels and muffins.  I went with their basic hot dog, “The Rusty Dog” (Couldn’t stop thinking about the Simpsons episode where George H. Bush didn’t think a Krusty Burger sounded too appetizing).  I got it in a combo which included a soda and a bag of chips [$5.75].  They had Cheetos, Doritos or Lays to choose from.

I paid up and a little less than 10 minutes later my name was called out from the little window.  I grabbed my dog, drink, chips and napkins and had a seat at one of the tables.  The Rusty Dog regularly comes with ketchup, mustard, onions and relish.  I skipped the relish.  There was quite a bit of ketchup and mustard on it, but at least it was applied in a visually interesting way.  It was much more than I would put on a hot dog myself.  The onions were crisp and there was just the right amount.  The hot dog itself was tasty enough for a basic dog.  The one thing I wasn’t crazy about was the bun, which I found to be a little overly chewy.  The chips and soda were exactly what you would expect.

Overall, not too shabby for what it is.  The service was extremely friendly.  The people watching was slightly more interesting than the food to be honest.  I can’t say I’ve ever sat in front of a Home Depot for more than a couple minutes, but I bet they could figure out a way to make a reality series out of it.  Coming here for the food and not stepping foot in the Depot was an odd experience.

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