Who: Bob Wheeler, plant manager at General Mills in Lodi; his wife, Dianne Wheeler, golfer; their daughter, Carrie Wheeler Engh, chiropractor and mother of 14-month-old Eric; Deborah Rose, social worker at UC Davis; and Julie Nelson, communications director for Sacramento Country Day School.
Where: Restaurant 55 Degrees, 555 Capitol Mall, Sacramento; (916) 553-4100
Benefiting organizations: Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern California and Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
* 1-second review
If Gourmet magazine took a picture of the restaurant from outside at night and put it on the cover, readers would think â€˜New York City.’
&emdash;Diva Peg Tomlinson-Poswall
Menu: Imaginative cuisine; server Kimberli Drown provided explanations for dishes we were unfamiliar with: gribiche (a cold, mayonnaise-based sauce made with hard-boiled eggs, olive oil and shallots); rillettes (salmon, in this case, pounded into a smooth paste, potted and served as an hors d’oeuvre); and gianduja (a blend of chocolate and hazelnuts).
Best dishes: Braised pig trotter with crispy potatoes, mÃ¢che and black-truffle sauce; duck foie gras; oxtail roulade; braised veal cheek with tomato/white-wine braisage; organic poached egg with chanterelle mushrooms, mashed potatoes and braised leeks; lemon buttermilk panna cotta; and citrus tart. Atlantic salmon was a treat from Chef Luc Dendievel; the accompanying sauted spinach with honey and lime sauce received accolades all around for its delicately assertive flavors.
Ambiance: Minimalist, open, airy, pleasant and quiet, with the focus on the food.
Chatter: This was the second Dining Diva experience for Bob Wheeler and his daughter. Engh had never tasted foie gras, and Tomlinson-Poswall said, Be a big girl&emdash;try it. Engh was pleasantly surprised by the smooth way it melted in her mouth. The Wheelers passed around snapshots of grandson Eric, festooned with Cheerios&emdash;was that because Grandpa is with General Mills? Rose, whose regular workday calls for only a half-hour for lunch, says she’s a vegetarian who will eat fish. But she went off the wagon and did not regret trying the veal cheeks. Bernice Hagen complimented Dianne Wheeler on her turquoise jacket and matching jewelry. Bob Wheeler said, Everything I buy for my wife she always takes back, except this one is the one.
Quote of the day: Somebody has to be from Bakersfield when Paulette Bruce-Miller revealed her birthplace. &emdash;By Gloria Glyer
Left to right: Bob Wheeler, Dianne Wheeler, Carrie Wheeler Engh, Peg Tomlinson-Poswall, Deborah Rose, Julie Nelson, Bernice Hagen, Paulette Bruce-Miller, Gloria Glyer
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 $220,000 for local charities and nonprofits.