Honey Spot

Posted on May 4, 2010 – 5:04 PM | by OldManFoster
  • Share

By Sarah Singleton Photos by Scott Duncan

Jonathon Modrow and Kimio Bazett didn’t know what they were getting into back in 2003 when they decided to open up a neighborhood bar in Sacramento. They had taken over a nineteenth-century building that once housed local hotspots Drago’s, Café Montreal and Café Paris, amongst other incarnations. Little did they know that they had purchased The Money Pit. Initially, the pair took a year to construct the beginnings of The Golden Bear. But just a few short years later, they got the news that more improvements needed to happen. In the midst of the planning for the big remodel, a 40-foot tree fell over on the beleaguered building, flooding the kitchen. Fast-forward another year and undoubtedly a few headaches and it’s ready. A new kitchen. New bathrooms. New patio. New bartender. New chef. New concept.

“Think gastro pub” is how Modrow described it to me one evening when I asked what the new menu was like. I found out for myself one lovely spring day when I stopped by on a whim and tried out a few dishes for lunch with a friend. That first day we sampled Asparagus with Bacon Sauce—crisp asparagus with minced egg white and crispy bacon; the Bledsoe Pork Meatball Sandwich and the Morels and Toast. Yes, I said Morels with Toast. Tasty fresh morels with braised leeks, spring onions and an asparagus vinaigrette on crostini. Delicious. But fleeting. Morels have since tripled in price and are no longer on the menu. But that’s another example of how the new kitchen will be run at the Golden Bear. Seasonal (however fleeting). Local. Affordable.

On my next visit, I tried the Juicy Lucy—a take on the Minneapolis classic dive bar burger with cheese inside the patty—with their smashed fries and an avocado and mushroom flatbread with the red leaf Caesar. The Niman Ranch burger was indeed juicy with cheese, bacon confit, glazed onions, avocado and lettuce. The burger came with their “smashed fries”—little fingerling potatoes, smashed and fried until crisp—served with chili salt and deliciously tangy and peppery Tannat ketchup. The flatbread was not as successful, more of a salad on a flatbread, though still tasty with obviously fresh ingredients and not skimpy on the avocado. The red leaf Caesar was a nice take on the classic with pepitas, capers, Cotija cheese and croutons.

By the third trip, I’d finished the menu. The cheese Panini with bacon was a perfect, crispy grown-up version, but cried out for a cup of tomato soup (Chef—tomato season is nearly upon us!), the chicken Parmesan flatbread and Golden Bear’s famous chicken tacos. The chicken Parm was good but again, I was underwhelmed by that flatbread. I think it could be greatly improved by sitting that succulent chicken on a crisp garlicky roll. But the tacos! They are better than ever. They start with organic, free-range and sustainably raised Petaluma chicken and slowly simmer it until tender. The chicken is then served up on two corn tortillas with lettuce, Cotija cheese and Pasilla crema. And only $5 for two—a real steal.

Golden Bear’s new chef is Billy Zoellin, formerly of fine dining restaurants The Grange and Mulvaney’s B&L. His passion for good local and fresh food at an affordable price point is obvious. Modrow and Bazett are in agreement and are sourcing from local farmer’s markets and meat purveyors. Dishes on their menu range from $5 to $10, a real bargain for such high quality product.

Even the bar is getting in on the act. Bartender Russell Eastman is busy concocting new cocktail specials, and is adamant about keeping prices reasonable while still using top quality ingredients. In fact, The Golden Bear is participating in this year’s “Cocktail Week” event coming up in August, with food and cocktail pairings.

I didn’t get to sit in the newly refurbished back patio but did get to take a peek. It’s pretty suave with turquoise banquets and low white tables. There is also a small bar outside. The bathroom remodel will knock your socks off though, if you recall what the restrooms looked like before. I only checked the ladies of course, but there were actually a couple of stalls and a fancy new bowl sink with a waterfall-like feature. Very slick.

The Bear is now open for brunch on the weekends from 10-3, with endless mimosas for $12 (oh dear) and GB’s specialty bloody Mary’s for $5. The regular menu is available on Monday –Friday from 11:30-10:30 and on Saturday-Sunday from 3-10:30. GB also has its entertainment license pending so in the near future look for live music and DJ nights.

A lot of things have been uncovered in the latest remodel. Some old 1800s square nails, beer cans, even an old pair of women’s underwear in the wall, but the most important discovery is the new Golden Bear itself. Still chill, still a late-night hangout, still the place for a cheap Hi-Life; but now, it’s also a place to find a artfully crafted cocktail and a diverse menu with the top-quality products and flavors of fine dining-but is still affordable in the true GB style.

Golden Bear
2326 K Street
(916) 441-2242

Tags: , , , , , , ,

  1. 1 Trackback(s)

  2. May 7, 2010: Here’s the Thing. | Undercover Caterer

Post a Comment