The Waterboy (Sacramento)--best fine dining bargain around?
My wife and I had our first (definitely not our last) dinner at the Waterboy last night. Didn't pay much attention to the prices on the menu or the wine list; just noticed that nothing seemed outrageously expensive.
We shared two appetizers and a first course (white anchovies, marcona almonds, roasted beet salad), and each had an entree (blue-nosed bass for my wife, a big bowl of steamed clams, mussels, and shrimps for me). We also had a bottle of pinot grigio recommended by our server. The food was fantastic, and the wine, while nothing earth-shattering, matched it nicely. For me the highlight was the (unadvertised) house-made sausage in the shellfish broth; those little bits of spicy wonderfulness (along with fregolina and pieces of perfect tomato) complemented the main attraction very nicely.
The surprise came at the end of the meal. The check arrived, and it was under a hundred bucks, including wine. I mean, seriously, is there a better fine dining bargain out there?
Next Thursday the chef is offering a four-course prix fixe meal for $48.50. Warm squid and scallop salad, chicken ravioli, leg of lamb, and a white peach ice cream sandwich. Specially paired wines available by the glass. The reservations have already been made...
I ate there Thursday night my first time also and thought the same thing! We got the peach & proscuitto appetizer, the beet salad, the heirloom tomato salad, the seabass, the duck, and a berry cobbler type desert. The appetizer was my favorite part...it was so good. We brought a bottle of wine and were not charged the corkage fee due to some delays that held our entrees up. Great value...I'll be back.
It's probably just a matter of expectations. I anticipated a check in the $150+ range, since lately $50 per person with wine seems to be the going cost of dinner and wine at a mid-range restaurant. And the last time we splurged and went to a very good restaurant, the check ended up being around $300. Much credit goes to our server, who recommended a wine that complemented the food perfectly but didn't cost an arm and a leg.
As far as the sweetbreads, I should never have told my wife what they are. The look on her face was memorable, to say the least. Since we were sharing first courses, the roasted beet salad seemed a better path to domestic harmony.