Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rock The Block

Is part of the most recent effort to revitalize K Street. Across from the Crest Theatre, it's between Dive Bar, a mermaid themed bar, and District 30, a cosmetics ad themed bar. Pizza Rock is a... I'm not entirely sure what the theme is. Pizza. And also... rock and roll, I assume, but more like cliches and a semi truck. For real, there's a flame-emblazoned semi cab over the bar, designed like it's crashing through a chain link fence, for no apparent reason. What semis have to do with Pizza or Rock, I have no idea. There's also a large mural on the ceiling of The Creation of Adam, perhaps the most overused art swipe EVER, except God is handing Adam a guitar. Aside from these strangenesses, and the design behind their logo looking like it was doodled by a high schooler, the set up is pretty cool. The building is cavernous, featuring one oven up front, with a bar around it, and the window into the kitchen at back looking like a giant pizza oven itself. There is a small stage flanked by two enormous built-in "couches" which I assume also serve an acoustic purpose.

They recently bagen serving a brunch, and their food has been getting pretty good reviews, so I decided to check it out. My first visit down there allowed me to wander through Fremont Park during the height of Chalk It Up!, our annual chalk art festival. I caught a performance by the lovely and endearing Autumn Sky, and then moseyed on down to K. I sat on their small outside patio, and enjoyed some hot tea. Their tea selection is actually very good, although I get the feeling I might be one of the few that ever gets it. I had a green tea the first time that was just a touch sweet, very nice. Their brunch menu runs quite the gamut; there's some traditional stuff, a nice selection of sweet or savory breakfast pizzas, and a couple nice surprises. I decided to get the breakfast potato skins my first time, as it promised to deliver nearly everything I love about breakfast in bite size snack form; potatoes, cheese, eggs, bacon, and scallions!
This is almost definitely the classiest presentation of "potato skins" I've ever seen. Add to that; they're delicious! The little slices of fresh fruit was a nice touch. They're about two bites each (NOTE: bite size may vary; I've got a big mouth). I just used my hands because, potato skins. Am I right? They have a tendency to topple, but if you have taste buds, you probably won't care.
My second visit, I decided I was morally obligated to get pizza. After an agonizing couple minutes, I decided to go with the savory Eggs and Double Sausage over one of the sweeter choices (Nutella and Kiwi? Who wants to split on with me?). Luckily, I didn't get a side, as I wasn't quite able to eat the whole thing. Do believe I put in a valiant effort, though! I sat inside this time, trying not to pay attention to the multiple, huge-screen TVs playing football. I did get to check out a guy demonstrating some impressive pizza-dough-throwing for a birthday party, which was thoroughly entertaining. As I mentioned before, the design inside is... eclectic, at best, and I feel it's generally leaning toward the Broquator. They play (as one might expect) a wide selection of rock and rock-related music. It seems a guarantee that there's something everyone will love, music-wise, but with such a broad category that's also a guarantee that there's something everyone will hate. Also, every song from the 90s reminds me of Goo Goo Dolls' "Slide," and I have no idea what that says about me. They do have live acoustic music during their brunches, which is pretty cool; that seems to start around noonish.
The bathroom has that same almost-cool-if-it-weren't-trying-so-hard vibe that the rest of the restaurant has, with fake brick walls and fake graffiti. No one bothered to tell them that graffiti is generally "hip hop" and not "rock," it seems. Also, it was one of the smelliest bathrooms I've been in (at least since Pancake Circus), which might have owed to what looked like a fresh puddle in the corner, and not the general upkeep. There is a reason the city's trying to revitalize K Street, after all.
In closing, I saw this, and it's hilarious;

Atmosphere: 8/13
Clean: 2/3
Structural: 2/3
Decor: 2/3
Signage 1/2
Service: 1/2

Menu: 7/8
Variety: 2/2
Size: 2/2
Beverages: 2/2
Prices: 1/2

Food: 7/9 pts
Presentation: 2/3
Portion: 3/3
Taste: 2/3

Bathroom: 3/5 pts.
Clean: 0/2
Structural: 1/1
Decor: 2/2

Overall: 25/36

Friday, September 9, 2011

It's A Circus Out There

As soon as I stepped foot into Pancake Circus last month, it felt strange that I'd never been there before. One reason is that I've lived in this town my entire life, (obviously) love the hell out of breakfast, and here's a restaurant that includes two of my favorite things, pancakes and circuses, in one breath. The other is that it's a strange sort of diner feel that refuses to acknowledge the passage of time. I felt like I was in a Twilight Zone episode, suddenly roadtripping across the country in the 1950s.
Pancake Circus is endearing exactly because of its strangeness. It's decorated with several circus animal heads, including Winnie the Pooh. No joke, Winnie the Pooh's clearly-a-stuffed-animal face is all over the place. Also Magilla the Gorilla, and a poorly traced Tigger. And scary clowns! The entire register area is a shrine to some terrible Clown deity. I feel like lighting a candle to Nyarlathotep in grease paint when I pay my bill. All of this is executed without the least bit of irony, which makes it simultaneously more horrifying and more awesome. The entirety of the serving staff seems like a bunch of truck-driving grandmas that would be the toughest gang in a Warriors sequel. I never knew tough love was a style of customer service. They may not be the most attentive, but you know they'd have your back in a fight.
"But Morning Constitution," you ask yourself, "what about the food?" They have a pretty big menu, owing partially to the fact that they serve steaks, seafood, and salad, as the sign can attest. My first venture out I ordered the apple waffle, with whip cream. I got some eggs and bacon to round it all off.
I couldn't include a human skull for scale, but this waffle was larger than my face. The whip cream obviously came out of a spray can, and the apples themselves also had an out-of-the-can flavor. Upon a later visit, I ordered the eponymous pancakes, which were pretty darn good, and likewise huge. As an added touch, the back of the check has a bizarre series of clowns with balloons that allow you to rate your service. Here's where I just say it all outright; Pancake Circus is not a place where you go to get the most delicious breakfast in town, but who goes to the circus for the food? It is a place to get a decent, late breakfast, and enjoy a totally demented atmosphere.
Oh, an a cautionary post script; not only is the staff transplanted from a truck stop, so are the bathrooms. Avoid them if you can!

Atmosphere: 6/13
Clean: 1/3
Structural: 0/3
Decor: 3/3
Signage 1/2
Service: 1/2

Menu: 7/8
Variety: 2/2
Size: 2/2
Beverages: 1/2
Prices: 2/2

Food: 5/9 pts
Presentation: 1/3
Portion: 3/3
Taste: 1/3

Bathroom: 0/5 pts.
Clean: 0/2
Structural: 0/1
Decor: 0/2

Overall: 18/35 pts.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Beginning and An End

Today marked the opening of Doughbot! A doughnut shop in the style of Portland's Voodoo Doughnuts, they sling maple bars and apple fritters with bacon, vegan doughtnuts, and more! I rose before the sun to march down there and meet a friend and her daughter so that we could get in on the deliciousness before they sold out! We ran into local musician and fantastic human being Addison Quarles picking up a dozen for himself. I got a Cacao! donut (which reminds me of this Calvin and Hobbes strip);
as well as a "The Dude," a vodka-infused donut that tasted a lot like tiramisu. They're obviously still getting things set up, as evidenced by the fact they seem to have run out of product fairly early. There's definitely a lot of potential there, with a nice big space and the beginnings of robot-related decor. The donuts are cheap, too; hopefully not too cheap for them to survive as a business!
I then attempted to get in on Chalk It Up! Sacramento's annual chalk art festival, but for the first time in years was unable to get a spot! While this is good news for the festival, it's bad news for me. However' I think I'll spend some money on some of the smaller squares and put together a few things; I've been reading a lot of Hellboy recently, and there seems to be some interest in me doing a Hellboy square, as well as a request for Trash Film Orgy's King Kogar. We'll see what tomorrow brings! That definitely freed up my weekend plans, however, and I'm spending some of it soaking up the atmosphere at the downtown Temple location before it moves. Temple is arguably the best coffee shop in town, and this location has definitely played a big part in my life; sneaking downtown when college courses seemed too much, writing albums for bands, taking dates, and just relaxing and enjoying some delicious coffee and tea. It's a very cool old building that used to be a bookstore many years ago, with a distinctive front and booth areas, an odd little bookshelf built into the brick wall, and a fun quaint/funky vibe. The new location opens in a couple days and is merely a block away, so I look forward to visiting that soon and often as well, but today is time for a bittersweet goodbye to a location that's played a huge role in my life, and will always be connected to my life in this city.
I realize I've been a little lax on reviews of late, but I promise there's more coming! Soon; my Pancake Circus adventure and the tales of the Sacramento Film and Music Festival, as well as upcoming visits to Pizza Rock and Golden Bear!