I stopped by Magpie Caterers Market & Cafe yesterday to check the place out and grab a sandwich. The small, sun-flooded space is utterly charming, with rough brick walls, spacious display cases showcasing the chefs’ deli items and take-out dishes, and a big crowd of kitchen and counter staff to help patrons figure out the menu (which was written on the display cases and a series of paper bags taped to a column near the cash register). Magpie only opened on Wednesday, so I’ll save my review for another day, but I will say this: Sacramentans should be pretty darned excited about this friendly, family-owned café – the food I tried was first-rate, including the ravishing oven-roasted Brussels sprouts and one of the tastiest chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten. Parking can be challenging, so plan accordingly. At 14th and R streets, Sacramento; (916) 452-7594. Call for hours of operation.
Last night I hobnobbed with some of Sacramento’s finest writers at a “Writers Who Wine” social, hosted at Scandal Bar and Lounge in the Citizen Hotel. Hidden upstairs, far away from the hustle and bustle of the restaurant below, one has to be guided by a staff member to find it for the first time. The bar feels thrillingly clandestine, with its blood-red walls, remote location and dim, dim lighting. Quiet and private, it’s an excellent spot to bring your sweetie for a romantic pre-dinner cocktail, or to sit with old friends and chat the evening away. The bartenders did admit they’d personally witnessed a few scandals in the bar since it opened in December, but wouldn’t share details. I was intrigued enough that I’ll be back again, soon. Call the Citizen Hotel for the bar’s hours, as they can change weekly (depending on hotel occupancy), (916) 447-2700;
926 J Street, Sacramento.