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5641 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819. (916) 457-5600
http://www.clarkscornerbar.com

Remember the Shakey's Pizza on J Street? It doesn't seem too long ago that I was there munching on a slice of pizza pie and gabbing with friends. The pizzeria may have closed but the nostalgia remains for a lot of Sacramentans. Since the closure of the original Shakey's that corner of 57th and J has changed identities several times. These days, it's called Clark's Corner, a family-friendly eatery and neighborhood bar. Mr.S. and I had stopped in there during the winter while we were out holiday shopping; we popped in during dinnertime and were immediately sat in a pretty empty looking dining room at a table not too far from the fireplace. The tables in the area where we sat were half-booths around the perimeter all located under lighting units that cast down a extremely strong, bright beam of light down on the person who was on the booth side. It felt like we were seated at one of those interrogation tables you see in old cop shows. It was extremely uncomfortable; however, there was nowhere to move to as there appeared to be only two small stations open that night (the rest of the dining room looked shut down). We looked over our menus and placed our orders, at which time we were told by our waitress that they were out of both dishes we wanted along with a few others. So, I ended up ordering the Kobe burger and Mr.S. went with their fish dish. When the waitress brought out my dinner, the burger looked tasty but it turned out to be extremely overcooked and the sweet potato fries were cold. Also I had asked for no cheese, but there was a nice big helping of melted cheese on my burger. On the other hand, Mr.S. liked his pan roasted fish dish. The fish and the accompanying greens were cooked well and came with a nice sized helping of mashed potatoes. During our meal, our waitress kept disappearing for long periods of time so we found ourselves having to flag down the other waiter on duty a few times (poor guy) - for silverware, more coffee and soda, ketchup and even the bill. I left unimpressed with the whole experience and never bothered to write a review. In fact, my notes and the photo I snapped of my burger just sat on my laptop for months- untouched collecting cyberdust.

Flash forward to last week. I was meeting my friend Stacey for a few adult beverages and a bite. It was her turn to pick a place to eat and she suggested Clark's Corner since it was close to her neighborhood. At first I was hesitant but then I thought, "Why not? Let's give it a second shot." When I showed up she was seated in the bar area instead of the dining room. Unlike the dim dining room illuminated by harsh spotlights in no man's land, the bar area had windows and was quite lively so I asked if we could stay in there. The bartender (I think his name was Balele?) was super friendly and engaging and seemed to know several of the regulars. He did a terrific job of recommending drinks and getting me to try a few new craft cocktails (both of which were delicious). For dinner, I decided to go with their Corner Bird (grilled chicken breast, fried onion, pepper jack cheese, crispy bacon and ranch on sourdough). Unfortunately, they were out of sweet potato fries so I settled for the potato fries. The sandwich was good and the fries hot this time.

My second visit at Clark's Corner was vastly better than the first. Seriously, like night and day. Better atmosphere, food and service. To be honest, I'm not sure if they worked out the kinks since my last visit, did a revamp or if we just hit it on a really off night back during the winter. I do plan to take Mr.S. back there sometime but I think we'll opt to sit in the front room where the bar is, it's just a better vibe than the dining room. I'm glad I went back though, I guess second time's a charm in this case!

Additionally:
* dog friendly patio
* serves brunch on weekends
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