1226 20th Street, Sacramento, CA 95811. (916) 447-3300
Lately, Midtown seems to resemble a revolving door of eating establishments shutting down and opening up. There's been a lot of turnover and not everything that has hung up an "Open" sign has been worth checking out. However, if there's one place you should scribble onto your list of worthwhile places to explore -it's Plan B Café. Plan B Café is the casual, hip little sister to the slightly more sophisticated Plan B Restaurant located in the Arden suburbs. The cozy café took the place of the now defunct Capitol Dawg on 20th and Capitol, just around the corner from Jack's. If my lunch on Friday was any indication, Plan B Café is poised to become the next Midtown superstar.
I've always felt a great dining experience can mainly be gauged by three things- a relaxing atmosphere, friendly and efficient service and delicious food. When my friend Misa and I stopped in on Friday, Plan B Café delivered strong on all three counts. The owners of the new bistro have really spruced the place up. Don't let the partial tent-like exterior fool you. The inside is decorated in a tasteful, contemporary manner with several booths and the netted "tent" portion of the building allows you to recharge with some fresh air during your lunch break. Kind of like al fresco dining minus the bothersome flies and mosquitoes. Each table is outfitted with a small tabletop tablet computer for ordering. The tablet called "Presto," lists all of the dishes on the menu complete with photographs (even the soup du jour). You sign in and place your order for foods and drinks. It's quite easy to use but if you have any difficulty there's plenty of staff available to assist you. You can put your entire food order in at one time if you want all of your order at once or you can stagger your meal by entering each course separately in whatever manner you desire. There's also games for the kidlets (and grown-ups) to play on Presto while waiting for meals to arrive and bill paying is a snap. You can even split your bill in half or by individual items with the touch of the screen. Presto also accepts your plastic, just swipe your card along the top and it processed the payment for you. Receipts can be printed and brought to you or emailed to an address of your choice. If you're paying cash, there's a button to inform your server. My first inclination was to think Presto was going to be tacky or gimmicky but it turned out to be a fun, easy-to-use experience. I loved the convenience of having everything at my fingertips and not having to worry about flagging down a server each time we needed something or when were ready to go. Closing out was effortless.
The café choosing to utilize Presto did not take away from a personable dining experience. There was still plenty of interaction with the staff. The Plan B Café staff was friendly and stopped by our table often to chat, inquire if we needed anything, clear empty plates and ask how we liked our dishes. Each person we encountered during our visit was gracious and seemed to care about providing terrific customer service. Our waiter, Jason was wonderful. Within seconds of being seated, he greeted us like old friends and made sure we were comfortable and wanted for naught during our service. I don't think there was a single time that we spoke to Jason that he didn't have a smile on his face.
Now for the food...Misa had visited the original Plan B restaurant several times and had warned me that the food was delectable. Well, the café version didn't disappoint. Everything we tasted was amazing. We took quite awhile to peruse the menu since everything on it sounded delish. The asparagus and the French onion soups sounded divine, as did the duck confit, the bourguignon sandwich (made with short ribs, horseradish and crème fraîche) and the fresh savory tartlettes. I was salivating just looking over the menu. Finally, Misa and I both settled on the house favorite- the steamed mussels. She assured me she had had them before and they were sublime. There were six different broth options available for the mussels, Misa went with the nantaise (butter, shallots and crème fraîche). She joked that it was so good that she wanted to drink the broth. Our waiter, always on task, offered to bring her a straw. I went with the coconut mussels (the broth consisted of coconut milk, chile, garlic, cilantro and jalapeno slices). It was exquisite. The broth was fragrant and tasted like liquid gold. It consisted of a subtle sweetness with a spicy finish, I just couldn't get enough of it. Once I ate all my mussels, I dunked some of the Acme baguette we ordered into the flavorful broth, sopping up its magical goodness. We had also ordered two sides to share- a roasted cauliflower gratin and some ratatouille. Both were noteworthy. The roasted cauliflower gratin was rich and creamy and intensely satisfying. I felt it needed a touch of salt though to make it perfect, it was a smidge underseasoned. The ratatouille was prepared well, the colorful tiny squares of vegetables tasted bright, slightly tangy, and were a nice complement to the heavy gratin. Next time, I may have to have a plate of their pomme frites which Misa swears are a must order. Although we didn't indulge in any cocktails during our lunchtime visit, it's my understanding that Plan B has a full liquor license.
Plan B Café may be a newcomer to the Grid but I think it's destined to quickly become a neighborhood gem. Although it's a French restaurant, there's nothing pretentious about the place. The food is on point and the staff is knowledgeable and customer-oriented. I definitely plan on visiting again soon. In fact, I think this might be the a great place to go for my next date night with Mr.S. He's sure to love it!