Story and photos by Sarah Singleton
While Midtown and the greater Sacramento area has no shortage of pubs and watering holes in general, it’s always a plus to be able to sit down and enjoy a bite to eat while getting your drink on. Here are a few that I tried recently….
Samuel Horne’s Tavern is probably best known for its 16 different craft beers on tap and expertly made cocktails, but they also run a full service kitchen. Samuel Horne’s menu runs less ‘British Pub’ and more ‘American Pub’- much like their beer list. “The Dobbie” had shaved beef, Swiss cheese, bacon, two perfectly cooked over-easy eggs and some non-detectable Serrano aioli on grilled bread. It was a good sandwich but we felt it was a bit skimpy on the fillings for $11. “The Brewmeister”, while a decent bratwurst, was surrounded by an unremarkable roll and too sweet caramelized onions that clashed with the sauerkraut. I should’ve had one of their burgers—my dining companion reported “The Cootie” (pepper jack, spinach, pepperoncinis and an over-easy egg) is the way to go. The Donnybrook Victory and my classic Old Fashioned? Decidedly delicious. Helpful hint for beer aficionados: light rail goes to Historic Folsom.
719 Sutter Street, Folsom
Streets of London
Walking into Streets of London is like walking into my old apartment. My husband used to call the Midtown Streets his “timeshare,” back in the days when they only served beer and we cozied up to the bar on the weekends to watch football (soccer). These days, Streets is a success story with three locations under its belt and booze at all its bars. But how have the kitchens fared with all this success? Just fine—meaning, exactly the same. This is no gourmet dining, but it is perfectly serviceable pub grub. We happily munched on some crisply fried firm and flaky fish; paired with Streets’ usual less-than-crispy chips (Try those same chips with toppings though—I like the cheese and onion – great with beer). Our only gripe was the overcooked and dry Scotch egg—not even Tabasco could save that thing. The Guinness and Makers Old Fashioned, waslovely, as usual.
1804 J St; 649 E. Bidwell St, Folsom; 2200 Lake Washington Blvd, West Sacramento
Fox and Goose
Fox and Goose, while a Sacramento institution for live music, atmosphere and a great place for a pint, is no longer someplace I’m likely to frequent if I’m hungry. My recent forays for both breakfast and dinner proved disappointing. At my breakfast visit, I ordered corned beef hash, which arrived with burned onions and peppers yet somehow cold- with overcooked eggs. It didn’t improve on the second go-round. My recommendation is to stick with a scone. We popped in for an evening visit too—the shepherd’s pie (made with ground beef, not the customary lamb) was unseasoned except for an unpleasant tangy flavor that was reminiscent of sour cream. The mashed potato layer on top couldn’t even save this dish. The sad little salad it came with was overdressed and limp. The Guinness was good, but I think they forgot the sugar in my Old Fashioned.
1001 R Street
While Kupros Bistro may be the upscale cousin to some of these neighborhood pubs, it is no less welcoming and cozy, as we found out one weekend not long ago. The first floor of Kupros is suitable for just having a few drinks, but this place is situated more like a regular restaurant—with a more extensive (and expensive) menu to match. We decided to sample some of the bar food, savories and a salad to get a feel for the menu. Kupros is known for its poutine—that Canadian favorite consisting of fries covered in gravy and fried cheese curds—so of course we had to sample that. I’m not going to lie. It’s darn good. Kupros’ version is covered with flavorful short rib gravy, and we sopped it all up with every single skinny cheese-covered fry. We also tried a Lyonnaise-style salad, with a poached egg and bacon. It had a pleasantly vinegary dressing, as well as chorizo-steamed clams, which were nice and plump but could have used a little more kick in the spice department. My Old Fashioned was perfect and I also tried a cocktail from their bar menu (sadly I’ve forgotten the name) but it tasted like spicy lemonade and had a slice of Serrano chili floating in it. I’ll return for poutine soon, and for that spicy lemonade drink this summer.
1217 21st Street
DeVere’s Irish Pub
The sleeper hit of the season was a place I’ve been meaning to visit for ages, but for whatever reason, just hadn’t. DeVere’s Irish Pub has it all. Atmosphere? Check. Friendly and super-accommodating service? Yep. The only thing that leaves a bit to be desired is parking, and truthfully, that’s not even that bad—and if you can’t handle it, there’s valet. But let me tell you about the food. Oh, the food! First off we had to try the pub chips, topped with gravy and cheese. You can add either standard American bacon to this or house-brined Irish bacon for a buck. We had the plain ones and they were big enough for dinner. The mushroom gravy was remarkably deep in flavor. The lamb stew was tasty, more refined than what we’re used to having at home but with tender chunks of lamb and tender hunks of veg that retained their shape. The fish and chips plate held two large pieces of crunchy and firm-fleshed fish that had a mild flavor that suggested that it hadn’t lived in the freezer for too long. The hit of the evening was the bangers and mash platter—DeVere’s makes their bangers in-house and serves them with some of the best mash I’ve had in a long time—because they make champ—an Irish mashed potato dish made better with butter and green onions. Served alongside were some lovingly prepared vegetables—which I wish had been on the fish and chips plate too. The Guinness was poured with an expert’s hand and my Powers Sour (Irish Whiskey, honey syrup, lemon, bitters) was scrumptious. I think I’ve found my new timeshare.
1531 L Street