The Dining Divas: House Kitchen & Bar

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Guests: Jena McDonald, a social science teacher at Bella Vista High School; Christie Wheeler, a fellow teacher and soccer coach at Bella Vista; Christine Weske, a board member of Sacramento Children’s Home; Renee Baber, manager of ReNew Boutique in Roseville; Lori Hale of Bakersfield, a nutrition consultant; Joe Chiodo, co-publisher of Sacramento magazine

Where: House Kitchen & Bar, 555 Capitol Mall, Sacramento; (916) 498-9924; houseoncapitol.com

Benefiting organizations: The Salvation Army and Sacramento Children’s Home

1-second review
: “A fun menu,” said Jena McDonald.

Ambiance
: Open, airy and buzzing, with eye-catching décor and a near-capacity lunchtime crowd.

Menu
: Pick an appetizer, any appetizer, and you’ll be happy. We started with the five-cheese macaroni and cheese and moved on to Cajun shrimp with grilled garlic bread, crispy chicken pieces with a sweet/spicy glaze, shrimp po’ boy sliders with coleslaw, and sweet corn tamale cakes. On the menu were a half dozen salads plus a nice selection of sandwiches and entrées, including a black bean burger, pulled pork on a Hawaiian roll, pressed pesto chicken sandwich with goat cheese, breakfast fried rice with bacon and eggs, and fish and chips. The star dessert: chocolate raspberry cheesecake.

Commentary
: Owner Chris Nestor stopped by our table to report that the batter for the roasted corn fritters wasn’t right, so he couldn’t serve us the dish. “It was more like hush puppy batter,” he said.

Wine time
: Diva Joan Leineke chose the wines: Twisted Rivers 2009 Chardonnay and Twisted Rivers 2007 Raven, a red blend.

Quote of the day: Christine Weske and Renee Baber both heard Diva Peg Tomlinson-Poswall say of the monthly Divas lunch, “We train for this event.”

Chatter
: Jena McDonald and Christie Wheeler enjoy teaching high school students. Wheeler says she knows every kid’s name after a couple of weeks. But, said McDonald, “If I know the names after the first week, that is not a good thing.” Wheeler, who was about to begin chemo for breast cancer, urged everyone to have an annual mammogram. She planned to keep on teaching and coaching soccer. Diva Gayla Mace ended the lunch with this thought: “When you get older, every day is new . . . because you can’t remember everything.”

The Dining Divas—Gloria Glyer, Paulette Bruce, Bernice Hagen, Joan Leineke, Gayla Mace and Peg Tomlinson-Poswall—have been wining and dining together since 1993. Every month, they lunch at an area restaurant, taking as their guests people who placed winning bids at charity events. To date, they have raised more than $327,000 for local charities and nonprofits.

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