Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Lunch at the Oak Cafe

I first learned about the Oak Cafe almost ten years ago, when Steve and I were first dating. It is a fine-dining restaurant affiliated with the culinary arts program at American River College in Sacramento.  The restaurant is completely student-run: service is done by students in the Dining Room Management course, and all the staff in the kitchen are culinary students.

Steve and I have been wanting to go to the Oak Cafe ever since we learned about it.  However, it is only open for lunch on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays during certain weeks during the school year.  The dining room is very small- only 50-some seats, plus another 16 outdoors.  Reservations can be very difficult to get.  For a variety of reasons, we've never found a date that worked and successfully made a reservation.  Until now!

Everything came together for us on Friday, March 30.  Neither Steve nor I have pesky jobs to get in the way of a weekday lunch over an hour away, plus it was Trevor's first day of Spring Break.  I managed to get one of the very few available reservations.  Yea!  Finally at the Oak Cafe!



The menu at the Oak Cafe changes every week.  This happened to be finals week for three students (Stephanie Jurkowski, Bethany Kohler, and James Mauroni), and their menu was inspired by West Coast Chefs.  There were two choices for each of the three courses (appetizer, entree and dessert).  Trevor carefully read through the menu and made his selections.

We enjoyed delicious focaccia while we waited for our food.


For our appetizers, Trevor and I both chose Chilled Pea Soup with Mint...

 
... and Steve got the Chop House Taglierini.



 For our entree, Trevor and I both chose the Croque-Madam avec Pommes Frites...
 
... and Steve had the Roast Chicken with Saffron Risotto and Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus.

 
At the beginning of the meal, we were given detailed comment cards.  We were asked to evaluate each dish on its appearance, taste and originality, as well as judging the service and other details.  Trevor took his job VERY seriously.

For our final course, Steve and I chose the Mascarpone-Zabaglione Mousse with Strawberry Sauce and Hazelnut Cookie....  
 
... and Trevor chose the Baked Meringue with Creme Anglaise, Chocolate and Caramel.



I should mention that the whole meal (appetizer, entree, dessert, and unlimited drinks) is $15 per person.  You can't beat that!  While the food wasn't perfect, it was very good.  Same with the service.  We had so much fun discussing the food and filling out our comment cards.  I hope to return to the Oak Cafe many times in the future.  

Goal #13 achieved!

5 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fun place!! And loving that it's run by the students!! Everything looks YUMMY (well... except for that egg!... lol!! *wink*)

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  2. That is just wonderful! :) What a great outting for the whole family!

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  3. What a great meal. Our university has a very similar restaurant and hard-to-get reservations. The food is always great. What a fun treat. :)

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  4. Oh how fun! It's not just a meal... it's an educational activity for you guys too. I'd love to be a food critic. I don't think we have anything like that in our town.

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  5. Wow! Talk about a good deal for a 3-course meal! The food looks really good! I love that Trevor took his critic job very seriously...lol

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