Ally
1300 H Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. At the base of the Sterling Hotel. (916) 594-7669
http://www.thir13en.com

I currently have a huge crush on Adam Pechal's Restaurant Thir13en. Despite the silly spelling of it's name, the place hits the mark on almost every level- ambiance, food, drinks and service. In fact I've been there three times in the past two weeks and it has yet to disappoint.

My first visit was with my friend, Debbie. I was seated on the courtyard patio at a nice table in the shade, right next to two hummingbird feeders. As I waited for my dining companion to arrive, I got to watch several hummingbirds buzz by (Jeebus, those suckers are fast!). My server, Paul, suggested that I try a cucumber cooler, a house specialty. The drink did not disappoint! It was a refreshing blend of Grey Goose vodka, cucumber and fresh lemon and lime juices...perfect for a sunny day. For lunch, I had to go with their meatloaf sandwich. I love homemade meatloaf and their version of this dinnertime classic was outstanding. The meatloaf itself consisted of two juicy patties with a nice peppery kick, which paired well with the spicy mayo and pickled onions. I was also given a choice of a mixed salad or shoestring fries as a side. I went with the fries...nice and crisp. Thumbs up all around.


On my second visit, I swore I was going to try a new dish but unfortunately the siren's call of their meatloaf sandwich was too strong to ignore. I went with the same dish again and it was again perfect. I did at least try a new drink- their mai tai. It was on par with the lovely mai tais I've had in Hawaii. Their version wasn't overly sweet which is usually the downfall of most places. This mai tai was perfectly balanced and delicious. My friend Gretchen and I were also amazed at the size of the beverage...a nice hefty pour. A great choice for a patio drink. And once again, service (this time from waiter, Casey) was terrific.


For my most recent visit (Saturday night), Mr.S. and I went there before going to check out Moonrise Kingdom. We decided to sit inside since it was quite hot and humid. The hostess wasn't at the stand when we walked in but we were greeted and seated immediately by a bartender. The transaction was so smooth that there was none of that awkward period of standing at the door and looking around for assistance. The inside of the restaurant is quite nice (albeit a bit loud). Low ceilings and soft lighting made it seem more intimate and I loved the cute little succulent plants outfitting each table. Our waitress (I didn't catch her name) was friendly and attentive without being intrusive. Courses were spaced out well- no huge lag time and no rushing. We started out with an appetizer of seared foie gras served atop a brioche french toast and a strawberry compote. This came paired with a smooth, rich mound of foie gras panna cotta outfitted with a small slice of crisp bacon and an orange gastrique. Both items were absolutely heavenly. For dinner, Mr.S. ordered the seared scallops nestled on a bed of sweet corn risotto. It was a hit. This is probably the first risotto I've ever had that didn't taste heavy. It was light and vibrant and the dish showcased the fresh corn well. The scallops were cooked flawlessly with a nice crispy exterior and soft, tender interior. You know the type of scallop that's so good that it makes your eyes roll back in your head when it hits your tongue? That's what we had. For my main course, I opted for the salmon dish. The salmon was well-prepared, topped with a tantalizing tomato jam and served over a tasty crustless crab cake. And if that's not enough, it was also surrounded by a colorful ratatouille puree with a dash of green chili oil that turned out to be incredible. My god, I could eat this dish every day during the summer. The flavors melded together so wonderfully that even when I surpassed the point of feeling full I couldn't put my fork down. The only somewhat "meh" moment of the evening was the dessert course. They were out of the dessert item that Mr.S. wanted so he settled for the profiteroles drizzled with chocolate and a cup of coffee. The first cup of coffee was cold so he had to send it back. As we were waiting for a new pot to be brewed, we were served our dessert. The profiteroles consisted of three creme puffs (slightly smaller than a ping pong ball) and a scant squeeze of chocolate syrup. It wasn't bad, just not memorable. Next time, we'll probably just skip dessert.

Off the beaten path of Midtown restaurants, Thir13en is the perfect place for an upscale outdoor lunch or place to indulge in a fancy cocktail during the spring/summertime as well as a terrific choice for a romantic dinner out. It offers amazing dishes prepared with fresh, quality ingredients and since the menu changes regularly there's always something new to try. Additionally, it pulls off classy without all that pretentious BS that some higher-end restaurants exude. I was impressed and will most certainly return there (and next time I'm giving their tuna carpaccio a whirl- it looked divine).

* Serves brunch on Sundays
* Patio dining available
* Not a good choice for large parties due to it's small size
5 Responses
  1. sporkgasm Says:

    I am a huge fan of the place. I love the lobster roll and their burger. I, too, got to hang out with the hummingbirds last time I was there. I tried to get a picture but they are way more stealth than I could keep up with.


  2. Ally Says:

    Aren't they fearless?! Two of them were literally just a few inches from my face. I also loved the squirrels romping around in the bushes. Funny, squirrels are cute at a restaurant but at home you want to smack them with a frying pan for pulling up your garden.


  3. Trish Says:

    Good to know! I drive by there and always wonder if it's good (I've had some BAD lamb at Sterling Hotel so was a little apprehensive...)


  4. Ally Says:

    Trish, are you talking about when it used the be Chantrelle's (that was the restaurant that was at the base of the Sterling Hotel before Thir13en took over)? Chantrelle's was awful, in my opinion. It always reminded me of retirement home cafeteria food whenever I was dragged there.


  5. Trish Says:

    That's the place - Chantrelle's! They served lamb at the Grape Escape years ago and it was SO bad - after that, I could understand why some people just hate lamb (even when it can be so delish when done right).


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