The Dining Divas: High-Hand Conservatory & Cafe


Guests: Nina and Jim Davis of Colfax—she is president of New Star Lasers; he cooks, gardens, eats, drinks and is merry; Dennet Cowan and Kim Breitbarth, representing ABC Ready Mix, a supporter of the Sacramento Children’s Home Guild crab feed; Gwen Schoen of EG Schoen Communications, food writer, needlepointer, craft and T-shirt designer; and Carolyn Fischer, whose important job as “domestic engineer” puts her in charge of travel and social events

Where: High-Hand Conservatory & Cafe, 3750 Taylor Road, Loomis; (916) 652-2064;

Benefiting organizations: Wellspring Women’s Center and Sacramento Children’s Home Guild

1-second review: “High-five!” said Carolyn Fischer, succinctly and appropriately.

Ambiance: The cafe is located inside an expansive greenhouse; there’s also an outdoor bar with a fireplace. Take time to stroll through the nursery, pat the heads of the sculptures and talk with the koi.

Dishing on the dishes: Some of the best included roasted winter squash soup with sage and bacon; warm goat cheese toasts with multicolored beets; handmade potato chips; spinach salad with pancetta, Asian pear and hazelnuts; grilled hot dog with Mom’s pickles; roasted-vegetable sandwich with piquillo peppers and roasted-garlic dressing; pulled pork sandwich; and a round of desserts, including carrot cake with orange cream-cheese frosting, flourless chocolate cake and Meyer lemon ricotta cheesecake.

Extras: Chef Randy Kliewer, a professional’s professional, treated us to brie pine nut pizza (very good). Jan Binneweg, his wife, manages the cafe. Our server, Christine Elliott, performed admirably.

Wine time: Diva Gayla Mace chose the wines: Navarro Mendocino Chardonnay, Lavender Ridge Cotes de Calaveras and Rancho Roble Estate Barbera grown in Lincoln. Diva Peg Tomlinson-Poswall said the reds were perfect for lunch.

Mom’s pickles: What are they? Not bread-and-butter, not kosher dill or sweet, but thinly sliced, crisp and delicious. Who created the pickle? The mother of Scott Paris, the owner and developer of High-Hand. Thanks, Mom.

Observations: Although the lunch crowd appeared to be made up of women of a certain age, High-Hand has gent-pleasing hearty sandwiches, such as tri tip with blue cheese and roasted turkey with cranberry cream cheese.

Quote of the day: After I blew out the birthday candle on the carrot cake, Nina Davis asked, “Was your wish simple or complicated?” I’ll never tell.

Chatter: Gwen Schoen said she would return to High-Hand in her pickup truck to shop for garden items. Jim Davis noticed the espaliered apple trees edging the parking lot and wondered about trying that himself. And Dennet Cowan and Kim Breitbarth will return for the food, setting and comfortable noise level.