Circuit Court Sacramento
do you squirm when you hear the phrase "wine bar"? I don't know
about you, but I've found many wine-related venues in the greater Bay
Area (Napa and Sonoma, are you listening?) to be a tick higher on the
pretension meter than I can handle, even though everyone pretends it's
all casual and country-style. Perhaps I am more sensitive to this kind
of thing than some, but I always find myself thinking, surely I am the
only Target shopper in this place! I become acutely aware of the fiber
content of my clothes and my ignorance when it comes to sneaky silent
Listen, it doesn't
have to be that way.
Zachary Jacques to remember what it's really all about: the füd and
the wine. This place, located off Highway 50 in Placerville about 45 minutes
from the Tomato, features "Country French Cuisine" and great
wines, many of them local. It's quite popular; a reservation in the dining
room can be hard to get. But here's the beauty part: the adjacent wine
bar seats at least 20, and you can pop in unannounced, score a table,
and order from a scaled-down but still very impressive version of the
ZJ is my brother's
find. He knows a whole lot about how to make wine (I believe there is
a silver medal hanging about somewhere in his house), but he doesn't spend
much time dreaming up flowery adjectives to describe the end product.
Basically, it's good or it's not. You like it or you don't. This approach
is respected at Zachary Jacques. They judge not. They leave that to the
circuit court magistrates. They just want you to enjoy your füd and
drink, although if you wanted to talk about "noses" and hints
of vanilla I'm sure they could accommodate you.
A fun thing to do
is get a flight of wine, which is like a sampler. They bring you several
small glasses of different wines grouped together for some reason (region,
variety of grape). We both opted for this, the only disadvantage being
that eight wine glasses take up quite a bit of room on the table. We had
to put our water glasses on a nearby counter. We have our priorities,
The appetizer was
a first for me: snails. Well, you can call them escargots, if you are
trying to impress. The menu uses both names, further proof that they just
don't put on airs at this place. Good to eat, seafoody texture, mild taste,
and c'mon, they're swimming in an herb butter sauce! They bake them in
a cute little ceramic dish crafted exclusively for this purpose.
Apparently the whole
thing goes into the oven, and then to your table. Result: hot snails that
stay hot, and the butter stays melted too, which makes it that much easier
to sop up with the crusty fresh baked bread.
It makes for a surprisingly
substantial starter, although the snails themselves number six.
Then we had two wonderful
salads, mine accompanied by little goat-cheese toasts.
the entrées -- oh, very nice! My brother had big shrimps (some
might call them prawns) in a rich and spicy broth-sauce flavored with
ginger and lime that I found curiously Asian-tasting, but really, who
cares? My working definition of French füd is that it comes with
a rich sauce, so this definitely qualified. And oh yeah, it tasted amazing.
Like you'd have dreams later about this dish, good ones. I had pork tenderloins
in mustard sauce, and it lived up to all my expectations, which were high,
given what had come before. I was ever so slightly worried that it might
be, well, not mustard-y enough, perhaps merely splashed with mustard rather
than really made of mustard, but no! This was a bold sauce (it makes me
laugh to use that phrase, but it's the only appropriate one under the
circumstances) and it was all mustard, all the time. Velvety, tangy, sharp,
creamy, somehow simultaneously. And plenty of it too, again mopped up
with the bread (we asked for a second basket at this point). I know some
would disagree, but truly, I do think that mustard is food of the gods.
I must make a pilgrimage to Dijon, and soon.
I think the chef could
have been slightly more selective about the bits of tenderloin included
in my dish. There was a stray bit of gristle here and there, but I can't
fault the flavor one bit, and let's face it, you could serve a WonderBra
in that sauce and it wouldn't be half bad.
Is there anything
more happy-making than a dessert cart? This is a form of transport on
a par with Santa's sleigh. We summoned it. The selections were all appealing.
We settled on a lemon tart, with a lovely shortbread crust. My brother
also had a glass of tawny port, in honor of his birthday (which I, being
only about a 6.5 on the sister scale, had forgotten about).
Well, it ain't cheap,
but everything's relative, right? I thought the food was great for the
price, which worked out to around $75. Without the wine and port, it would
have been more like $50. But I'd really recommend budgeting for the juice.
It added a lot of pleasure to the meal. And when it comes to pleasure,
those French seem to know what they're doing.
Magistrate Louise at firstname.lastname@example.org