(Last Updated 2/10/2020) The Magpie Cafe is a Sacramento favorite. In my experience you can always be assured of a great meal and service in a pleasant atmosphere.
A friend and I were exchanging e-mails discussing possible dining options prior to attending Beautiful, The Carole King Musical at the Sacramento Convention Center. When she noted that she had never been to the Magpie Cafe the decision as to where to dine was easily made.
On the way to the restaurant I told my friend the story about the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, and the Magpie Cafe carrot cake cookie sandwich. At a luncheon hosted by Governor Brown in 2016 it was reported in the media that the Dalai Lama enjoyed the Magpie Cafe carrot cake cookie so much that after lunch he later made his way to the sideboard and helped himself to a second cookie.
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Parking in the vicinity of 16th and P Streets can be dicey at times, but we were lucky and found a metered space nearby.
We each ordered a glass of wine and looked over the menu. Everything on the menu sounded tempting. We decided to order as the (shared) starter the Pan Seared Polenta (Sage and Cheddar, spiced tomato sauce and herb salad) ($8) and the Green Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette (local greens, fennel, radicchio, persimmon, toasted pecans) ($8).
The polenta was delicious, as was the salad. The salad dressing was flavorful but light, allowing the flavors of the other ingredients to shine through. I especially enjoyed the flavor of the persimmon. Persimmon is now on my list of ingredients to experiment with at home. How did I not know that persimmon was so good?
As we enjoyed our “starters”, the two couples sitting at a nearby table were served their main course. Each couple had ordered the Chicken Dinner for Two (Natural Chicken Two Ways, Greens, Roasted Potatoes, Chervil-Ginger Sauce) ($36). I have heard rave reviews about this dish, but have yet to try it. It certainly looked very appealing.
For our entrees we each chose a “Smaller Plate”. I am always partial to mussels so I selected the Mussels & Fries (fennel, vermouth, cream) ($16) and my Mac-and-Cheese-loving friend gravitated to the Macaroni & Cheese with Dragon Gourmet Mushrooms (Oyster Mushrooms & organic cheddar) ($14).
The mussels were huge – but very tasty – as was the sauce. I generally prefer a medium size mussel – but I had no complaint.
I had a taste of the Macaroni & Cheese – and the dish is definitely on my list to order when I am next at Magpie Cafe. My friend, who I consider the “expert” when it comes to mac & cheese, opined that the cheese sauce was “creamy deliciousness” and she liked the bread crumb covering. The mushrooms, however, were described as “too chewy”.
After dinner we made our way to the Sacramento Convention Center. Beautiful, The Carole King Musical, was delightful.
Before we started home after the performance my friend pulled out her 1971 Carole King Tapestry CD which we listened to until she dropped me off at home. A fitting end of a most enjoyable evening.
Magpie Cafe is one of two or three restaurants in Sacramento that provides patrons with the opportunity to tip both the server and the kitchen staff. Accompanying the bill is an explanation that reads:
“Tipping is always voluntary…and greatly appreciated. If you’re perfectly happy with tipping as usual, there’s no need for you to do anything differently. If you’d like to send a little thanks to the crew hustling in the back, we’d be honored to provide you the means to do so. Example: Service =15-18%. Kitchen=3-5%. In California, we are not allowed to require a split of tips to the kitchen staff. All such tips will go to line cooks and other kitchen staff’ no one in management will participate”.
What is your reaction to the opportunity to tip both the server and kitchen staff?
Comments on Magpie Cafe?
What has been your experience at Magpie Cafe?
Magpie Cafe Snapshot: (Updated 2/10/2020)
- 1601 16th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814
- (916) 452-7594
- Hours: Closed Monday; Tuesday (5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.); Wednesday – Thursday (11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.); Friday (11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.); Saturday (9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.); Sunday (9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.)
- Parking: Public garage on R Street (between 15th & 16th Streets) and metered street parking
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