Brunch at the Jungle Bird in Sacramento
Seemed fitting to check out brunch at the Jungle Bird on Sunday, especially since the Selland’s Market Cafe on Broadway is not open for brunch until the end of the month. Besides, I, loving all things Polynesian and being a natural island hopper, who really can’t get enough of tiki kitsch, have been meaning to stop by Jungle Bird. As much as they try, for me it just wasn’t tiki enough. Where are the bubbling waterfalls? Cries of seabirds? Sand? But it’s tiki enough for Sacramento.
Reminds me of the day a long while back when my brother-in-law escorted my husband and me to Trader Vic’s at the Palmer House in Chicago. I had been complaining that when we visited Chicago, we always did family things and never any touristy things, and there was a lot about Chicago I had not seen. So yeah, Miracle Mile, Billy Goat Tavern, Wrigley Field for a Cub’s game and Trader Vic’s at The Palmer House were the activity destinations.
Trader Vic’s was famous for its tiki stuff and island drinks, an institution from 1957, now closed. But it is embedded in my memory as what a tiki restaurant should look like. And the drinks were phenomenal, served in coconut shells with umbrellas and whatnot.
You know where there’s a great tiki restaurant? On the Big Island at the Royal Kona Resort, Don the Beachcomber bar. I can’t help myself, I’m drawn to the place. That’s the guy who is credited with inventing the Mai Tai. Lots of carved wood, comfy seating, and the pounding ocean.
So I had high hopes that the Jungle Bird would satisfy those cravings, but I can’t say it did. It’s not the fault of the restaurant. It’s the fact it didn’t transport me or maybe I wasn’t in the mood for transporting, just for brunch at the Jungle Bird. And the brunch isn’t really what I call brunch, but it is decent food, and it’s Polynesian in a way since some of it involves rice and gravy and fried spam.
It’s probably better at night when the place is crowded and the menu is different. Although I will say they make a mean Bloody Mary, a bit spicy, with thick bacon and a tang we couldn’t quite place. I suppose I could have chosen for brunch at the Jungle Bird a fruit dish with yogurt and granola, but the souffle with bits of jalapeño and cheese was a lot more satisfying.
Photos: Elizabeth Weintraub, iPhone7