Ikeda opening in Sacramento!!
- Christine DiBona
So, because we live out in the country, it is not insane for us to drive ~40 miles each way when we get a hankering for a GOOD deli sandwich. Wednesday morning the urge hit, and a dearth of icy cold Cooper's in the fridge settled the question. Road trip to Corti Brothers!
The last remaining outpost of Corti Bros. is the one on Folsom Blvd, not too far off 50. Considering their reputation, it's an odd locale - I remember the first time last year I went there, sure that the car's nav system was horribly wrong, as I drove by tired asphalt lots, abandoned shops, worn-out strip malls. Corti Bros doesn't look a whole lot better than the rest of it's neighbors so what's inside may come as a wonderful shock. I'll sing the store's praises another time, except to say that the sandwiches made to order in the deli are GREAT and amazingly cheap for what you get. This post is about our discovery a few blocks away.
Driving down Folsom, from 50 (if you've taken the 65th st exit) you pass a couple of intriguing places. I'd promised myself this trip I'd check out Molino's Orange Freeze, as I'd seen them doing some work inside, and giving the outside bright new coat of paint. Who knows what could be up? It's a big shed of a building, with glass all along the front. As we walked over from the parking lot, I noticed the big wooden packing crates on the concete patio. Stencilled "Ikedas" ! Curiouser and curiouser....Inside was fresh and open, in that industrial/packing shed style: simple wire chairs and tables off on the left, a long counter on the right, menu on a board over the kitchen pass-thru. Hmmmm, no orange freezes on the menu....but there's an orange julius shake. The Sunkist juice machine directly in my line of sight gave me pause, though. Did this place specialize in rehydrated OJ? When asked, the bouncy counterperson waved a container of real orange juice to reassure me that they used the real thing, and then said "You should talk to him about our fruit and stuff" and waved over this guy in an Ikedas t-shirt.
I recognized him from 'California Heartland' (subject for another post), one of the sons I think. Super nice guy, and he gave me the lowdown on what they sere planning: The day we visited was a training day for the staff - we ordered milkshakes (good! and comped because they were learning, what a nice gesture), but could have had smoothies, burgers or rice plates. What will get most Ikedas fans excited though is...PIES! Made in auburn, they'll be delivered to the Sacto and Davis stores daily. About half the space seems dedicated to retail and seating, I'd assume there'll be an espresso bar somewhere. Really exciting to me is their plan have the best fish counter in Sacramento. Not only will there be fish to take home, they plan on grilling whatever's best, and offering it on the daily menu with a yummy sounding wasabi sauce. Sacramento REALLY needs a good fishmonger. The first day for fish is Saturday, so I know where I'm headed after the farmer's market in P-ville. Of course they'll be selling the seasonal fruit from their orchard, and I'd guess their other products.
All in all, it's a nice addition to the Sacramento scene. And it's on the way to Corti Brothers! Not far off the freeway for those of you just passing through on your way to Tahoe or other points west. There wasn't a number on the building when we were there, but the address of the bagel shop next door is 6260 Folsom Blvd. The Molinos Orange Freeze sign is still up, and easy to see as you drive down Folsom. Parking lot's awful small for the kind of business I'm guessing they'll be geting...
That stretch of road still has some possibilities...anyone been to the 'Hoppy Brewing Company', about a block closer to the freeway?
Went to the new Sacramento Ikeda's yesterday and again today. Yesterday to scout - only bought peaches.....today for the rest - nectarines, corn on the cob, heritage tomatoes, a Tasty Burger and Twisted Fries. Yum! You can buy both baked pies, or unbaked and refrigerated so you can bake them at home. I'm not a big pie mavin, so passed them up. But was tempted by the tamales. Another day. No fish yet, but they're allegedly coming.
The peaches are to die for! Talked with a woman eating peach pie (you can buy 'by the piece') and she just rolled her eyes and said "heavenly!".
Attached to the building on the back is a large warehouse. Long range plans are to make contacts with local farmers and open a year-round produce stand there.
Welcome to Sacramento Ikeda clan!
Corti's and why it's there. This happens to be the neighborhood in which I live - East Sacramento. Have lived here for 27 years. This used to be Sacramento's Little Italy. I've been told that English wasn't even spoken in this part of town. East Portal Park - just 8 blocks from Corti's has the only bocci ball court in the city and also has a club house which was specifically built so the Italian men would have a place to go play cards in the afternoon. Biba Caggiano, who has written 4 or 5 cookbooks and has the restaurant "Biba" here in town, lives just down the street from Corti's. We shared a car pool when our kids were in the same school - we each have our claim to fame!
Sacramento is such an interesting place. I'm reallly fortunate to live here. Still finding new eating possibilities to explore. Live to eat and eat to live!
Ikeda's now has their fish and meat section open. They have also added a sandwich station with in the meat department--I have tried a couple and they are prett good. If you order a sandwich try to get it with the foccacia bread (or something fresh), sourdough and some others are straight from cellopane wrap--like in the grocery stores--not worht the money.
Only thing that freaked me out was that the case that housed the meat and fish mixed the beef, fish, and poultry all in the same case without dividers. And things like hummus and chicked salad were also in the same case without wrapping. Raw meat, poultry, and fish did not look very safe pressed up against cold salad type things you wouldn't usually heat up to kill bacteria. Maybe they have fixed this problem by now.
The Hoppy Brewing Company is a pretty generic upscale microbrewery chain-like restaurant. They have about six consistent beers and then usually a couple of seasonal brews like a hefferweisen or Christmas beer. I really like their reuben sandwich and Cobb salad with the house garlic dressing (_very_ garlicky!). When I've tried the more ambitious items on the menu like seafood pasta I've been disappointed. Stick with the bar food.
It's a comfortable place to go for a beer and a weeknight dinner or Saturday lunch, but nothing to go out of the way for.
It's been a little more than a month since Ikeda's opened in Sacramento. Was there yesterday and thought someone might be interested in an update.
It looks as though this family-owned business is going to continue to orient toward the family - they'll be closed Labor Day......oh, that's a family day, I was told.
Food - the menu stays the same and is pretty much the same as the other Ikeda places. Talked with one of the owners and he said that this is the fourth outlet the Ikedas have opened. They buy from the same providers and then the company has a truck which takes supplies to the four outlets. So, no matter what you want, it's the same in each place. Too bad they can't do the same with the cooks. The hamburgers are inconsistent - dry and overcooked one day - falling apart the next.....usual chowhound junk, can't just rate on having it one time!!
Baked goods: they have specialty breads ( banana, pumpkin, etc,), muffins, cookies and pies. Pies you can buy whole or by the slice. In the big refrigerators they have tamales, calzones and heaven-only-knows-what-else. Buy 5, the 6th one is free.
Salsas - ice chest full of at least 8 kinds - all "homemade" - recommend the peach,
fish - not sure who buys these. They're individual servings or pieces big enough for two, vacuum wrapped and stacked on top of each other in this ice chest filled with ice. There's a list on top of whats supposed to be in there, but your fingers will fall off from the cold before you find the one you want.
Flowers - nothing special, but nicer than the mixed bouquets at the supermarkets.
Produce - what ever's in season, although they're reaching a little. Mangos? Right now Ikeda's own peaches, plums and pears are tops as are tomatos and corn.
Whatever - then there are the bags and bags of little snacky things that look so good sitting there and that you can't imagine why you bought when you're a hundred miles down the road and thirsty. Anyway, I'm a sucker for the burnt sugar covered almonds and the chocolate covered sunflower seeds (multicolored coating, like M & Ms).......fancy pasta which tastes like all pastas when cooked, but the shape was too much to resist.
And everywhere - little tubs of this and that "for tasting" - crumbled coffee cake, crumbled muffins, melon pieces, tomato pieces, tortilla chips to slather with this sauce or that......
Fruit freezes - I had read in the paper that they were going to be serving Merlino's fruit freezes, but I don't think that's what they've got. What they're serving seems to me to be sweeter and less frozen than Merlino's. Maybe it's just "Absence makes the heart,...." but I don't think so.
Anyway, all in all - I find myself there a couple of times a week. Went last night to buy corn, ending up spending nearly $10. But, I mean, where else in this town can you buy Watsonville strawberries so dead ripe they just beg to be eaten?