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Restaurant Thir13en Sacramento Dine Downtown Pre-Fixe Dinner Preview

Hey, where’s the burgers? This is the latest post in a new section of burgerjunkies.com where I get to talk about things other than burgers in between official reviews. Let’s call it notaburger :)

Dine Downtown Restaurant Week is like a second Christmas for local food fanatics and restaurant goers. Some of Sacramento’s best, award winning chefs and restaurants come up with a creative 3 course pre-fixe menu for just $30. I don’t know how they pull off this fantastic feat of menu magic, but my palate (and pocketbook) is always grateful when this time of year rolls around.

When I was invited this year to do a complimentary menu preview of Restaurant Thir13en’s Dine Downtown menu offering, I (mentally) did 3 cartwheels and a somersault backflip, knowing that I’d get another chance to sample some more of Chef Adam Pechal’s creative cuisine.

For the uninitiated, Restaurant Thir13en sits at the ground floor of the history Sterling Hotel located on the corner of 13th and H Streets in downtown Sacramento. Their diverse menu takes full advantage of the fresh, seasonal produce available to chefs when their restaurant is located smack dab in the middle of America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital. The inside seating has a cozy, comfortable atmosphere and when the weather is right, their outdoor patio seating is hard to beat.

Here’s a sneak peek at Thir13en’s Dine Downtown menu offerings:

Thir13en Dine Downtown Menu
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For the first course, my wife and I were able to sample both of the menu options. The Blood Orange Salad was a wonderfully balanced salad that was a terrific tag team of both sweet and savory elements.

Blood Orange Salad
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Citrusy sweet oranges and pickled onions were countered by the more rustic bites of frisée lettuce and olives. The salad was lightly dressed in a chili vinaigrette that packed a little bit of heat, but was carefully cooled by some of the freshest feta cheese that I’ve ever tasted.

Salad
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The Winter Squash Soup is a perfect option if you want something a little heartier to warm you up during this chilly January weather we’ve been having.

Squash Soup
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This comforting winter soup was silky smooth with slightly fruity notes and finished with a nice coconut sage crema. I thought I’d end up tasting a few bites of this soup but ended up scraping my spoon around the bowl trying to capture every last delicious bite.

For the second course you get a choice of Diver Scallops on a bed of cauliflower puree and duck fat potatoes or a Braised Beef Short Rib over risotto.

Diver Scallops
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My wife had the seared Diver Scallops which featured incredibly tender (and super cute) tiny Tokyo turnips from Feeding Crane Farms. These little gems paired well with the creamy Meyer lemon aioli. Chef Pechal chose to leave the turnip stems on which added both color and a nice earthy texture to the dish.

Tokyo Turnips
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I set my sights squarely on the Braised Beef Short Rib and they did not disappoint. ‘

Risotto
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The deep, rich flavors of the Cabernet risotto were soaked up in the mushrooms. I found myself foraging for the mushrooms which captured the microcosm of savory flavors from the dish in each bite. The risotto with mushrooms alone was a worthy main course. The super tender short rib was a welcome added bonus to the plate.

Braised Beef Short Rib
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The third and final course features a choice between a Blood Orange Tiramisu and a Chocolate Bread Pudding.

Blood Orange Tiramasu
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The tiramisu offering is sweet and fruity take on the classic Italian dessert that substitutes blood oranges for the heavier coffee and cocoa flavors. The candied orange on the top was a nice touch.

Candied Blood Orange
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The dessert course star, for me, was the CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING.

CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING
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You read those all caps correctly, it was that good. I have to say, whenever I see “bread pudding” on a menu, I tend to go the opposite direction, but I decided to give this one the old college try.

mmmmmmm
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Now I don’t know if I’ve just been eating the wrong stuff, but this bread pudding was a little crisp on the outside while retaining just the right amount of moisture on the inside without being overly goopey. Almost like a cross between a cake and a brownie. It was finely tuned to just the right chocolate level so that each morsel played a sweet, but not cloyingly sweet melody. The whiskey sauce added flavor and moisture for each bite and the salty caramel ice cream (sourced locally from Vic’s) was the perfect way to finish off the dish. It was honestly one of the best desserts I’ve ever put in my mouth.

Overall, I’d say the pre-fixe special at Restaurant Thir13en is a must try during Dine Downtown Restaurant Week. Head on over to Open Table and make your reservations soon before the restaurants get booked up. Be sure to check out Chef Adam Pechal’s national TV appearance on the premiere of ABC’s new show “The Taste”.

At just $30 for 3 fantastic courses, I’m definitely going to be making another trip to Thir13en. For the vegetarians, Chef Pechal said that they would probably do one of their house made pasta options for the main course (usually a hand cut Pappardelle).

You can see the full list restaurants participating (with links to all of their menus) in the Dine Downtown week on the Downtown Sacramento Partnership’s website here.

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