The Kitchen Will Soon Be Back

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the kitchen executive chef kelly mccown
Executive Chef Kelly McCown

The Kitchen, Sacramento’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, will reopen Wednesday, Oct. 14, after being closed since the beginning of the pandemic shutdown.

The Kitchen is well-known for its rollicking, high-end demonstration dinners that last for three-plus hours and allow diners to wander around the restaurant, mingling with both staff and other customers. Because of COVID-19, there will be some changes in format.

Diners will remain at their tables throughout the meal. There will no longer be an “intermission,” during which customers could visit stations around the restaurant to sample bite-size of portions of raw oysters, sushi, soup shooters and other savory treats. Instead, The Kitchen’s five-course menu will be expanded to eight courses to make up for the loss of the intermission.

To ensure safety and social distancing, there will be movable partitions between tables and Plexiglas shields at the dining counter to separate diners from the cooks and staff.

But some things will remain the same. The cost of the dinner is still $155 per person, excluding wine and tip. And executive chef Kelly McCown will still hold court behind the counter, discussing the food and kibitzing with diners.

Chef Randall and Chef Kelly
Chef Randall Selland and Chef Kelly McCown

While The Kitchen has aoutdoor patio, all seating will be indoors, according to company CEO Josh Nelson. He explained that, because there are two exhaust hoods in the dining room’s demonstration kitchen that constantly exchange the air, the restaurant didn’t need to install a new air-handling system for safety. “The air is changing constantly,” he said.

Aside from a one-week period in May when the governor briefly allowed indoor dining, The Kitchen has been closed since mid-March. Unlike many restaurants, it didn’t offer takeout or curbside pickup during the shutdown. Under the state’s new rules, restaurants may now open for indoor dining at 25 percent capacity. For The Kitchen, which used to seat 62 to 64 people per night, that means a significantly smaller nightly seating.

For the next few weeks, dining spots are being offered first to customers who already had existing reservations. (Because The Kitchen is a special-occasion restaurant, many people book months in advance for birthdays, anniversaries and other events.) Once those diners are accounted for, the restaurant plans to open its reservation books to the public.

The Kitchen is owned by Selland Family Restaurants, which includes Selland’s Market-Cafe, OBO Italian Table and Ella Dining Room and Bar. Since early in the pandemic, Selland’s and OBO have managed to stay open for takeout and outdoor dining. Meanwhile, Ella, which is located downtown near Golden 1 Center and the convention center, is still closed. “I think Ella is still a ways from opening,” said Nelson, noting that the arena and convention center will remain closed through at least the end of the year. “We would hope to be in sync with what’s happening downtown,” he said. “Right now, nobody’s there.”

To see The Kitchen’s menu for next week, go to https://thekitchenrestaurant.com/this-weeks-menu/. For reservations, call (916) 568-7171.

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