Park to Plate Lunch Ideal for Tourists, Team Building

Read part 1 of the story.

After Chef Oliver Ridgeway's personal tour of the farmers market at Cesar Chavez park, our 'Follow the Chef' entourage was seated adjacent to the open-plan kitchen, allowing half of our party to watch back-of-the-house activities while we mingled. The rest enjoyed comfortable banquette seats allowing them to observe a working lunch at the community table or meeting in the upstairs boardroom. All soaked up the sunlight streaming through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
 
If you haven't been inside Grange, you may wonder what decor with 'urban sophistication' means. Unlike the lavish judicial chambers feeling of grandeur The Citizen Hotel evokes next door, Grange has an approachable, under-stated air of maturity. Concrete beams and wrought-iron embellishments are softened by the organic grain in the dark wooden floor and medium-finished tables. Soft lighting from modern fixtures and bright colored furnishings impart a humble character to the cavernous space.
 
All this to say the decor truly lets the food and drink speak for itself.
 
I was pleased our server offered chardonnay and pinot noir from area winery, Bogle Vineyards. (When matriarch Patty Bogle was diagnosed with leukemia, I remember joining the marrow donor registry. That's what good neighbors do.) For the expecting mother, a bubbly strawberry spritzer (seltzer-based) was brought to the table. 
 
Chef Oliver returned to the front-of-the-house (FOH) to present the first course: a light salad of English peas, pea leaves and sliced heirloom carrots. Integrated well not heavy-handed which causes wilting, the dressing found a rich flavorful complement in the micro grated mezzo secco, a partially dry monterey jack cheese.
 
The second course was a flash-fried Mt. Lassen trout on a bed of green fava beans (fresh from market) and white coco beans -- not cocoa chocolate but the inspiration more common to French cuisine. The texture was phenomenally crisp without drying out the delicate flaky fish, a nice contrast to the tender legumes. 
 
This romesco will have you talking for days.
 
Chef's FOH appearance delighted us since the sauce was causing such a scandal! His version included garlic, olive oil, scallions, tomatoes, peppers... a lemon pimenton vinaigrette and paprika. Nuts were excluded due to allergies in the group. 
 
Showcasing the best in seasonal ingredients, a buttery, flakey tart with fresh strawberries. Tangelos, sourced directly from the farmers market, were used in the citrus sauce and infused into the freshly whipped sweat cream. 
 
Remember those relationships with growers at farmers markets on Wednesdays and Sundays? 
 
Well, somebody loves Grange a whole lot. There was delicious Meyer lemon curd, under the berries, waiting for us to enjoy like guests indulge in luxurious Egyptian cotton. 
 
You can't tell by the looks of it; experience it for yourself. 

A few meals later, I'm not certain I've adequately described my own Follow the Chef experience. What I do know is I'm more confident that I'm buying fresh vegetables and fruits, and preparing them in bolder ways at home. Most of all, I'm happy to put a name, face, and an essense of Sacramento to the ingredients.
 
Thank you to the five-star service at Grange -- from Chef Oliver to Amy, Natalie and Ashley -- who made my heaviest lifting, literally, my fork and phone. Call +001 916 492 4450 to make reservations. The 2-hour lunch is limited to a maximum of 15 guests; it's worth every cent of the $39 per person price, which includes the wine pairing.
 
{Don't forget to thank Andrew, your bartender with the handlebar moustache, who recently bested Los Angeles and San Diego mixologists in the Hangar One vodka challenge with his West Bengal cocktail. Even the citrus zests he uses are local!}
 
Whether you're planning a convention or group tour, an incentive trip or leisurely weekend, the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau is your concierge to the best in Sacramento dining and 'farm to fork' restaurants in the capital. Contact us at tourism@discovergold.org for free assistance.