If you're a regular reader of the adventures and expeditions of The Sacramento Breakfast Club, you've probably noticed a few items in common that the restaurants we visit have in common. We appreciate:
* Good food
Photo: Cricket Country Kitchen is located on Auburn Blvd. in Sacramento, CA, in this rather plain, wooden building.
And many more must-have and optional criteria... We also enjoy a "funky" decor, but the decor is not totally necessary, just as long as the restaurant doesn't feature decor that's a cookie-cutter clone of hundreds of other restaurants. With all of the aforementioned criteria in mind, on Thursday, June 12, 2008, we just had to pay a reprise visit to Cricket Country Kitchen, as we were in the mood for some "funky," neo-art-deco decor that's as weird as it gets, friendly service, and a wonderful breakfast. Cricket provides all of the above, and a whole lot more.
Cricket Country Kitchen is located in a rather unremarkable white building, along busy Auburn Blvd., in a second-rate commercial zone, among strip malls and business parks, and the plain exterior appearance of the restaurant masks the interesting decor, great food, and friendly service found inside. Don't let the plain exterior of the building fool you, as all you have to do is step inside and note that the restaurant is crowded with locals who appreciate all the Cricket has to offer. You won't find folks from New York City enjoying the fine cuisine and atmosphere of Cricket's, but you will find customers that make the drive from Yuba City, or South Lake Tahoe for the express purpose of enjoying a fantastic breakfast at Cricket Country Kitchen... the fine food, great service and family-friendly atmosphere is worth the drive.
Photo: You're presented with this sight, when you enter the restaurant. Note the interesting decor, the dated wood paneling, the breakfast bar to the rear, and the kitchen just beyone the mannequin.
As I mentioned, local, "down-home" style decor is important with members of The Sacramento Breakfast Club, and the decor featured at Cricket's is as "funky" as it comes. We're talking about a nuevo-art-deco style decor, which is breakfast-speak for anything goes, and that would be a good phrase to describe Cricket's decor, as it's wild, quirky, crazy, funky, yet somehow it all blends together and makes patrons feel at home, and really adds to the fine dining experience. If you can ignore all of the "decorations," the dining room at Cricket Country Kitchen actually borders on the conventional side, as it features a pleasant mixture of booths, tables, carpeted floor, tasteful wood paneling, a friendly cashier's station to seat and greet you as you walk in, with the kitchen, complete with a breakfast bar, to the right of the room. Ignore the conventional and typical restaurant accoutrements, and you'll observe the "art-deco," funky aspect of Cricket's, including such oddities as:
Photo: Krista delivers the goods to our table. Note the size of the Mr. Big chicken fried steak!
* Frankenstein mannequin, dressed in Adams Family garb, who greets you as you walk into the restaurant
The decor at Cricket Country Kitchen is almost overwhelming to your senses, yet it makes you feel at home, provides endless visual entertainment, and really makes the restaurant stand out from the crowded field of Sacramento restaurants.
Photo: A peek into Cricket's spotless kitchen, which is easily seen from the dining room.
During today's visit, we were fortunate to be greeted and seated by friendly waitress Krista, who holds the de facto position of Cricket's première waitress. Don't get me wrong, all of the wait staff at Cricket's rate second-to-none, yet Krista is our favorite, as she greets us warmly, makes us feel at home, and provides outstanding service, and we can't overlook the fact that she has been the unofficial mascot of Cricket's wait staff for many years. We were especially happy to find that she was back to work, after a bout in the hospital last year. Krista, we're glad you're back at Cricket's! We were seated in short order, and the menus and coffee followed immediately.
Next, we were presented with a challenge: what to order? Ordering from Cricket's extensive menu can be somewhat challenging, as the menu features a wide selection. In keeping with the restaurant's format, the menu caters to the tastes of locals, and includes an outstanding array of good ol' American classics, and local favorites. Remembering previous visits, we had fond memories of Cricket's wonderful chicken fried steak, which comes in two varieties: regular, and Mr. Big. The regular chicken fried steak weighs in at 6-oz, while Mr. Big tops the scales at a whopping 11-oz! You must have a man-sized appetite to eat a Mr. Big, especially since it comes with all of the trimmings. Dan, Mark and Brad chose a Mr. Big, while the rest of us had a regular steak, or something else from Cricket's extensive breakfast menu.
Photo: My regular chicken fried steak, covered in gravy, with coffee and biscuits and gravy on the side.
Even though Cricket Country Kitchen was very busy on this beautiful June morning, our meals were served to us in a very timely manner, and during the time before our meals arrived, our coffee cups never got below half-empty, due to the attentive, but not intrusive service of our skilled waitress, Krista, with help from a few friends. When you're at Cricket's, waiting for your meal is a lot of fun, as the wait gives you a chance to chit-chat with your friends, watch other patrons, observe the busy staff, and admire the interesting decor.
Before we knew it, our meals arrived. As we've come to expect from many previous visits to Cricket, our meals arrived hot from the kitchen, not warmed-up from a heat lamp, perfectly cooked to order, and attractively presented. I'm not quite as hungry, or adventurous as some of the other members of our club, so I was served a regular sized chicken fried steak, covered with Cricket's delicious breakfast gravy, with two fried eggs, homestyle potatoes, and biscuits and gravy on the side. For me, that's enough food to keep me going for the rest of the day, but my appetite isn't what it used to be. Whatever your choice from Cricket's menu is, you won't leave the restaurant hungry, as the portions are huge.
Photo: Today's Breakfast Club members, from left to right: Dan MacLeod, mostly obscured, Mark McIntire, Sergio Gaona, Brad Holther, Eric Rench, the author and Webmaster, and Bruce Coulter. Thanks to Krista, who graciously took this photo.
We've been to Cricket's many times before, and we've never been disappointed in the service, the atmosphere, the quality and the quantity of the food, and today's visit was no exception, as everything was wonderful. Cricket's is the sort of place where you can go to relax, hang out with friends, and enjoy a superior meal. There is everything to love about Cricket Country Kitchen, and nothing to dislike. In one word, Cricket's could be described as... wonderful.
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