We’d heard about Lake Forest Café, located in historic Folsom, CA, and we’d been talking about holding a breakfast club meeting at the café for quite some time, but it wasn’t until Friday, July 30, 2010, when it was Matt’s turn to choose the meeting location, that we actually got around to visiting the place. Although Lake Forest Café is very different from the format of most of the restaurants chronicaled on this web site, we truly enjoyed a wonderful meeting at Lake Forest Café.
Photo: If it wasn't for the sign and the parking lot, you'd never know that a restaurant is located behind the white picket fence, as you'd think it was a Victorian-era house. The large green tree is the grapefruit tree.
If it wasn’t for the sign planted near the sidewalk, and the small parking lot, you’d never know that Lake Forest Café was a restaurant, as it just doesn’t look like your typical restaurant. There’s a good reason for that, as the building it’s located in is a 100-something year-old house that has been converted into a restaurant. Much of the front “yard” has been converted into a parking lot, as the building is set back a bit from busy Folsom Blvd. The “house” is surrounded by a well-tended garden, with bushes, green grass, flowers and trees, and the centerpiece is a large fruit-bearing grapefruit tree in the front yard, which should delight lovers of fresh grapefruit. (Yes, they actually use fruit picked from their tree.)
Dan and Bev were already seated at a large table by the time I arrived, and as I walked in the door, the waitress, Anna, greeted me with a cherry, “Good morning, Eric!” Without hesitation, I returned her greeting, sat down at the table, and with the mask of my best poker face plastered upon my face, said hello to Dan and Bev, preceded by the usual “What’s up?” Bev asked me if I had any idea of how the waitress knew my name, and, nonplussed as I can be, I told her I assumed that they’d already briefed her about the mission of the Sacramento Breakfast Club; I was correct, as Bev ‘fessed-up to the fact that they’d already briefed Anna on our club, and the fact that I’m the photographer, and web publisher guy.
Photo: Anna takes an order from another couple in the dining room. Is this Victorian, or what?
Photo: Anna takes Dan's order, as Bev enjoys coffee, and David, Matt and Sarah ponder the many breakfast choices on the menu. Note the windows and the daffodils planted in a planter box outside, in front of the windows.
The décor of Lake Forest Café is quite unique, bohemian and interesting. One can assume that the interior of the house must have been gutted and rearranged to conform to the needs of a restaurant. When you walk in, you’ll pass a small, cashier’s station and then -enter the main dining room - in former days, it must have been a large living room – with a smaller, semi-private dining room off to the right. There is a small alcove where hot coffee is brewing – YES!!! – and coffee cups, cream, silverware dishes and other items are kept for convenient use. The kitchen is incredibly compact, clean, and very functional, and at the time of our visit, staffed by friendly Reynaldo, who readily consented to me snapping his photo.
The dining room is decorated in a very retro décor; almost Victorian. Typical of the houses constructed during the early part of the 2 Century, the dining room features high ceilings, wallpaper, and decorations - lots of them! There are shelves mounted on the walls, a couple of feet below the high ceiling, that have all sorts of antique plates, buckets, flower pots, flower arrangements, and more. Nothing is high tech or fancy about the dining room, as it’s decorated to reflect upon the décor favored by our great-grandparents. Framed paintings, created by local artists adorn the walls, and according to Anna, the staff rotates the paintings every few days to lend a fresh look to the walls. If you’re interested, most of the paintings are for sale; just ask the staff.
The dining room is quite compact, and it is furnished with hardwood tables of various sizes, with chairs; if you’re in the market for booths or a breakfast counter, you’re out of luck, as those fixtures won’t be seen at Lake Forest Café. But if you like matching table cloths, you’ll find that every table is covered with a baby blue cotton tablecloth, which in itself is quite retro. To sum it up, the décor is comfortable, very retro, and quite late-Victorian-era in character. If it wasn’t for the computerized cash register and the modern appliances, you’d almost think that you were dining back in 1912, the year that the R.M.S. Titanic sank.
Photo: Reynaldo poses in front of the stove. Lake Forest Café was kind enough to allow access into their kitchen, which is uncommon for U.S. restaurants, due to insurance issues.
Photo: Anna brings a portion of our breakfast to the table. Note the decorations in the dining room, the wood paneling, and the blue tablecloths. The paintings on the walls are for sale.
Lake Forest Café doesn’t need to advertise in the media, as they rely on satisfied diners who spread the good news, using the time-honored word-of-mouth method. Since we have no connection with the restaurant, except as satisfied customers, and fans of good breakfasts, we only “advertise” them on our web site as a hobby, not as a paid reporter. Lake Forest maintains a very informative web site, which importantly posts their menu, and unlike some of their competitors, posts the current prices. When I learned from Matt that we’d be holding a meeting at Lake Forest Café, I “googled” them and was immediately rewarded with their web site, so it gave me a week or so to ponder their menu online and ruminate over my choices before our visit.
Their web site states that Lake Forest Café has been in business for over 25 years, and has been owned and operated by the same folks for same period of time. It’s an understatement to mention that the restaurant is a one-of-a-kind, locally owned and operated business. Since the restaurant doesn’t sever dinner fare, it seems to have carved out a niche in the breakfast business; we’ve never experienced anything like Lake Forest in the greater Sacramento area.
The menu departs significantly in protocol from the usual places where we hold club meetings. Don’t look for entrees such as chicken fried steak, biscuits and gravy, corn beef hash, and other diner-style dishes; they aren’t on the menu. The owners are Jewish, so the menu features a decent selection of kosher choices, such as potato latkes, matzo flatbread or kosher beef salami and pastrami. There are many fruit, yogurt, oatmeal and granola choices on the menu, along with 40 different omelets! Omelets include basic cheese, meat, vegetarian, South of the Border varieties, seafood, and an offering that none of us had ever seen before – fruit omelets. Fruit ??? The menu choices also include such oddities as a lox platter, lox, eggs and onions, and a sautéed chicken liver and scrambled eggs plate. David brought up the fact that if former breakfast club members Mark or Brad were attending this meeting, they’d be lost, as their breakfast choice would always have to be covered in gravy. We used to joke with Brad and Mark that you could take an old shoe and cover it with gravy and they’d love it, and I really don’t think that we’re exaggerating. Anyway you look at it, the menu at Lake Forest Café doesn’t feature diner, or truck stop cuisine.
Photo: Anna places Robert's order of ham and eggs on the table in front of him.
Photo: My South of the Border 3-egg omelet, stuffed with chorizo, guacamole, salsa, with Jack and Cheddar cheese, with country potatoes, garnished with a sprig of parsley.
No, the menu choices aren’t all bohemian or kosher, as you can order egg dishes with homestyle potatoes, toast, and your choice of bacon or sausage. Just don’t ask, as it wasn’t available, period. Bev and Sarah yelled “YEAH !!!" … Bev is always getting on Dan’s case for ordering gravy… but breakfast gravy seems to be a “guy thing,” and is always a de facto standard for the male members of the Sacramento Breakfast Club.
As we waited for our orders to arrive, Anna kept our coffee mugs full. I neglected to ask her what variety of coffee they dispense, but whatever the brand, it’s delicious. Noteworthy is the fact that cream is served in small, ceramic pitchers that don’t dribble cream as you pour it into your mug, which is a nice touch.
We were surprised how quickly our orders arrived, as the restaurant seemed to be staffed by only three team members, and by the time Anna brought our orders to our table, the dining room was quite full of other diners. In my case, I ordered a #35 omelet from the South of the Border section, which was a 3-egg omelet, stuffed with chorizo, guacamole, salsa, with Jack and Cheddar cheese. I elected for country potatoes and sourdough toast. I really thought that David would choose the chicken livers and eggs plate, but he hell to the allure of a potato dish called “Mike’s Potatoes” which is made up of homestyle potatoes, grilled with onions, tomatoes, avocado, and topped with melted cheese and sour cream. Matt and Sarah both ordered omelets, Matt’s choice of meat was ham, and Sarah’s was smoked salmon, and Bev ordered a quiche dish. Outside of my chorizo omelet, Dan stole the show, as he ordered a plate of lox, eggs, onions, potatoes and sourdough toast on the side. Ever the traditionalist, Robert ordered sausage, eggs, potatoes and toast.
Photo: Today's breakfast members, from left to right: Robert Kipperman, David DeMario, Dan MacLeod, Bev MacLeod, Eric Rench, your webmaster and author, Matt Donnelly and Sarah Donnelly. Our thanks to Anna, who graciously snapped the photo.
All of us agreed that our breakfasts were delicious, composed of fresh, quality ingredients, and cooked to perfection. We’ve seen larger portions, however we didn’t feel cheated, as the breakfasts should satisfy the appetite of anybody, except a lumberjack or a linebacker. The service was fast, friendly and efficient, and the décor and ambiance are delightful. We can’t recommend this restaurant for a cowboy, lumberjack or a truck driver, but if you’re interested in a quality meal, with a very different slant on breakfast, then Lake Forest Café is your kind of restaurant. Bev and Sarah especially loved it, so if you’re looking for a special place to take your wife, girlfriend, or to impress a special lady on a first date, then you should pay Lake Forest a visit.
Lake Forest Café is open from 07:00 in the morning, until 13:45 in the afternoon, Wednesday through Sunday.
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