best restaurants for lunch in sacramento

An Autumn Lunch at Firehouse Restaurant for Many Reasons

Firehouse Restaurant

Asters are the perfect fall flower for the table tops at Firehouse Restaurant in Old Sacramento

An autumn lunch at Firehouse Restaurant accomplishes many things for this Sacramento Realtor. It’s a lovely and befitting way to say goodbye to summer as we make our transition into winter through the all-too-brief season of fall in Sacramento. The rains in Sacramento have already begun. An autumn lunch at Firehouse Restaurant in the courtyard also features a delightful, magical atmosphere — dining outside on a cobblestone patio, surrounded by looming old trees, scurrying squirrels, a bubbling water fountain adorned by a floral arrangement, safe and secure tucked inside the walls of what seems like an old fortress, an enchanted secret garden, quiet and snug in Old Sacramento.

A far cry from shoveling food into my mouth from a microwaved tray as I usually sit huddled in front of my computer, reading the newspaper.  Or trying to chew quickly so when I answer my ringing cellphone, I don’t sound like I speak German. I could just not answer my cell while I’m in the middle of lunch and send a text message, but I’m sitting right there in front of my phone and I can’t stand the suspense. It could be a call from one of my favorite reporters like Ken Harney at the Washington Post. It could be a call from a seller in East Sacramento who needs a Realtor to list her home. It could be a call from an agent in San Diego who is referring a buyer for homes in Granite Bay. That’s the thing about Sacramento real estate, you never know what kinds of opportunities pass you by when you don’t answer your phone — which is not my dilemma, thank goodness.

I answer my phone because the odds that it’s a crazy person stoned out of his mind, screaming about buying foreclosures with food stamps, is only about 1 in 10. I’ll take those odds.

Firehouse Restaurant

Myrl Jeffcoat and Elizabeth Weintraub lunch at Firehouse Restaurant on a crisp fall Wednesday.

An autumn lunch at Firehouse Restaurant offers me the chance to meet friends, like Myrl Jeffcoat, whom I rarely see enough. We met online through an agent website many years back. Although Myrl is a Realtor in Sacramento and a life-long resident, she is partially retired and doesn’t really sell real estate anymore. But just because she is not 100% active in the business full-time, well, it doesn’t mean that real estate has left her body. The spirit of real estate steadfastly clings to many of us who have found a calling in Sacramento real estate. Cannot shake it. It’s embedded forever. When you’re a busy agent, the business aspect can completely consume. Yet, Myrl and I do not converse much about real estate at lunch.

I called Myrl about a month ago to suggest lunch at Firehouse Restaurant. She couldn’t do this week, I couldn’t do next week, so it became an issue of we need to put it on the calendar or life will sweep us up and we’ll never do it.

lunch at Firehouse Restaurant

Elizabeth Weintraub holds an aster at Firehouse Restaurant

If you would like to get away, perhaps pretend that you’re in Europe, then I suggest lunch at Firehouse Restaurant. The three-course Courtyard Prix Fixe is offered 11:30 to 2:30 Monday through Friday at $25 per person, among regular menu choices. We had a goat-cheese green salad featuring thinly sliced ribbons of butternut squash, and the waiter actually asked us if we wanted coarse or fine ground pepper. How many waiters ask that question? We both prefer coarse pepper. In fact, my husband constantly complains that I unscrew the top to the pepper grinder to the point it goes flying off when he tries to grind pepper. I like my black pepper big, crunchy, flavorful and spicy. Finely ground has its place in hot-and-sour soup but I prefer to enhance my dishes with larger cracks.

The next course, seared pork tenderloin medallions, over bacon bits and braised greens, topped with chestnut butter that melts in your mouth was a bit more than I could finish. The sweet sauce begged to cover the last medallion, and I could not leave a lone piece of pork on my plate, abandoned all by itself, looking forlorn and unwanted. Just when we were way too full for dessert, along came dessert. A caramelized wonderful toffee confection over a type of brandy pudding cake nestled by a generous dollop of Chantilly cream. Because, you know, we all need to eat lunch. What better place than an historic converted firehouse in Old Sacramento?


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