Gönül?s J Street Cafe


Guests: Cheri Regan, community sales manager for JTS Communities; Victoria Sweigart, homemaker; Jim King, commercial real estate broker with CB Richard Ellis; Sarah King, student/nanny; and Mary C. Barber, senior vice president at Western Sierra Bank

Where: Gönül’s J Street Cafe, 3839 J St., Sacramento; (916) 457-1155; jstreetcafe.com
Benefiting organizations: WEAVE (Women Escaping a Violent Environment) and WIND Youth Services

The best: Artichoke ravioli with Gorgonzola cream sauce (worth every creamy Gorgonzola calorie); Moroccan lamb stew with Israeli couscous, vibrantly seasoned and very tender; pork sandwich made with slices of pear (a tasty surprise); roasted portobello mushroom pizza with three cheeses and caramelized onions; cremini mushroom pasta (count calories on another day). Turkish bread pudding made with baguettes topped the dessert choices. All are housemade, obvious from the homey touches, especially the almond-crusted Persian lime pie and the apricot and almond cake.

Ambiance: Very casual, especially at lunchtime. Full-blown roses, obviously cut from a personal garden, graced the tables. Gönül and Dr. Mitch Blum are the proprietors; she was cooking on Diva Day, while Mitch patrolled and poured wine.      

Nice touch: Damask napkins in a rosy color, not white.

Chatter: Diva Gayla Mace maneuvered very carefully, adjusting to a walking cast. Why? She’d taken a tumble, which she blamed on her trendy platform shoes. The shoes are a boon to doctors, Mace’s M.D. told her. Jim King confided, facetiously: I don’t wear mine anymore. Sticking with the foot theme, Cheri Regan described her gauge for judging a gentleman: Look at his shoes first. That will tell you a lot about the guy. Victoria Sweigart appeared calm and cool, even though she has two teenage boys and is remodeling one home, building another and working on a third. Diva Bernice Hagen ordered an organic wine (she called it free range, too): Sunstone 2003 Chardonnay from Santa Barbara. Her analysis: It had no body, not much Chardonnay&emdash;a very small wine. On the other hand, the Da Vinci Chianti opened up well and went with everything.

Quote of the day: King, who came with daughter Sarah, said: I could have brought a date, but I worried I would not be going with her when the story comes out. 

1-second review: Great variety . . . something for everyone . . . well-prepared Mediterranean and California specialties . . . outstanding desserts.

*The Dining Divas&emdash;Gloria Glyer, Paulette Bruce-Miller, Bernice Hagen, Joan Leineke, Gayla Mace and Peg Tomlinson-Poswall&emdash;have been wining and dining together since 1993. Each month, they lunch at an area restaurant, taking as their guests people who placed winning bids at charity events. To date, the Divas have raised more than $246,000 for local charities and nonprofits.