How many times in your life do you get to attend a grand opening of an elegant restaurant on the opening day of business? Let's push the envelope one step further... how about being the first paying customers of a brand-new restaurant on opening day? On February 1, 2008, The Sacramento Breakfast Club had the honor of being the very first paying customers to be seated at the wonderful The Terrace restaurant, located in the Town and Country Place, an upscale shopping center, at the corner of Marconi Ave. and Fulton Ave., in Sacramento, California.
Photo: The Terrace fits in quite well with the neighborhood, in keeping with the upscale shopping mall where the restaurant is located. The patio dining is to extreme left of the photo, but its not very appealing on this cold, wet, February morning.
The Terrace had been in the works for months, and had originally scheduled to open the doors in November, 2007, but due to various issues, rearrangements, and all of the other significant, and small details pertaining to opening a restaurant, they didn't open their doors until 0800 on February 1, 2008. My friend and fellow breakfast enthusiast, Dan MacLeod had been keeping a watchful eye on the progress of Terrace's, as his charming middle daughter, Amber Spence, who owns and operates Sisters' Boutique, just a couple of doors away from The Terrace. During Dan's many visits to visit Amber's upscale boutique, he was able to observe Terrace's progress and to give fellow breakfast club member David, and I a day-by-day rundown on the progress of the restaurant, and what was happening. Naturally, being the breakfast addicts that we are, Terrace had piqued our interest, especially since we learned that they would be only open for breakfast and lunch. In our book, that's a green flag...
By the end of January, Dan, David and I made plans to dine at the restaurant on opening day, and if we could, we wanted to arrange to be the first paying customers to walk through the doors. Wow! What a goal in life... Sure, most of us have benchmarks to reach and goals to achieve, but how many of us achieve the goal of being the first paying customers in an upscale restaurant that is so dedicated to breakfast that they only serve breakfast and lunch? Naturally, the members of The Sacramento Breakfast Club have looked forward toward this goal, and finally have achieved the ultimate benchmark in life, as we, as a group, we able "to open" The Terrace restaurant to paying customers.
We're friends, and we work together on the night shift, we play together, and we eat breakfast together... we're The Sacramento Breakfast Club, and during the course of our work on Friday, the first day of February in 2008, the main topic of conversation was opening up The Terrace, which only The Sacramento Breakfast Club can do. Core members Dan, David and Eric, your web site author got off work at 0800, and by 0815, we entered The Terrace, to be greeted with a cheery "Hello, welcome to The Terrace," by none other then charming Jennifer, who at the time of our visit, was "personing" the order desk, and making future customers feel welcome. We were seated at a table in the middle of the spacious, yet empty dining room, and we were amazed, as Jennifer welcomed us, and she revealed to us that we were the first customers on the opening day of the restaurant! In a heartbeat, we achieved our lifelong goal, by being first in line!
Photo: The elegant dining room of The Terrace restaurant, as seen from the cashier's station. Note the attractive floor, the potted plant, and the light, airy, Mediterranean atmosphere, in keeping with the California cuisine that the restaurant offers.
David, Dan and I take breakfast seriously, as Dan and David are Air Force veterans, and I'm a veteran of the Navy, and if you've ever had the pleasure to serve in any branch of the armed forces of the United States, you know that the military takes breakfast very seriously. As members of the Sacramento Breakfast Club, and veterans, breakfast is our ultimate mission in life, our hobby, and our passion...
Could it be? Really? Is it a dream? Has the Sacramento Breakfast Club achieved it's ultimate goal, in being the first customers on the opening day of a new breakfast restaurant? Taylor, our friendly waiter confirmed our suspicions, as we were the first paying customers to enjoy the fabulous cuisine that The Terrace has to offer. We felt humbled, honored and at the same time proud to be the first patrons to "break in" such a fine restaurant as The Terrace. Now, The Sacramento Breakfast Club has fulfilled it's ultimate mission...
Because we were the first customers in the restaurant, the dining room was quite devoid of patrons, but for us, that was sort of a good thing, as we were able to "take in the decor" and move about as we pleased, without distracting the other, nonexistent patrons. Being the photo-fanatic that I am, I had an unhindered and unfettered opportunity to photograph a wonderful dining establishment, without offending other patrons! So I seized upon the moment and took photos... more photos, and a few more photos...
Photo: The rubber meets the road in the kitchen, and the kitchen at The Terrace is high-tech, efficient, and spotlessly clean.
The dining room is quite spacious, and is very attractive, and radiates a airy, outdoor feeling, in keeping with the California Cuisine that the restaurant features. The dining room in furnished with attractive wood tables and matching chairs, and each table features a white linen tablecloth, and silver utensils wrapped in white linen... which is miles away from the truck-stop breakfast dives that we seem to favor. Tables occupy the majority of the dining room, but there is an area, near the center of the dining room that features plush booths and premier seating, which seems to be ideal for a Sunday brunch. The walls are painted a bright sort-of-yellow, and the floor is bright and shiny, not to mention that there are a few potted plants to add a natural touch. The decor just shouts CALIFORNIA! ... which is quite appropriate, which is in keeping with the mission of the restaurant, and the staff is dressed in the manor that you'd expect for a restaurant that features the cuisine of California. We noted that the dining room features a mix of traditional and fluorescent lighting and that it smells fresh, clean and brand new. Wow!
Our friendly waiter Taylor, produced menus, introduced himself to us, and welcomed us to the restaurant. He confirmed that we'd achieved our goal, as we were the first paying customers to the restaurant, and he welcomed us accordingly. Quite an honor... Then, he offered us water, in crystal glasses... dear readers, we're not in a truck stop restaurant! We ordered coffee, but we were met with a grimace, and he said the coffee might be a little late, due to "teething pains." The Sacramento Breakfast Club understands that things can go wrong, at inopportune moments, so we said "OK, not a problem." After pondering the attractive and wonderful breakfast menu, we ordered the following items: Dan, "The Works," David, "Biscuits and Gravy," and I ordered "The Latest Wrap." In all probability, if this was just a routine visit to a long-established breakfast restaurant, it would have been likely that all of us would have ordered nearly the same item from the menu, e.g., chicken-fried steak, fried eggs, and homestyle potatoes, as we have nearly identical tastes in breakfast entrées, but since this was opening day of The Terrace, we wanted to diversify, and each of us order something different, and compare notes, in order to give an objective view of the restaurant, and their cuisine. We've been reviewing Sacramento area restaurants for a couple of years or so; if one of my partners gives me a "yes" or a "no," I value his opinion, as we've eaten many breakfasts together... Taylor took our orders, and promised our coffee, as soon as they could get the coffee machine to work.
Photo: I'm a sucker for kitchen shots, and when Margo allowed my into her wonderful kitchen, the first thing that came to my mind, was, "why are these guys chopping lettuce and cilantro?" Read on, as you're about to find out why...
When you open a new business, glitches occur, just like smallpox, and on opening day at The Terrace, Murphy's Law was in effect, as their $3000 coffee machine seemed to be taking a vacation, and not doing what it was supposed to do. Co-owner Margo Powers emerged from the kitchen to greet us, and to welcome us to her wonderful new restaurant. Naturally, we peppered her with questions about the restaurant, and she explained that she and her husband Michael, who, incidentally, performs the majority of the cooking chores, had finally opened the restaurant to paying customers, after several months of red tape, construction issues, and general teething pains. In particular, I commented that I was totally impressed by the fact that the restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch, as my comrades and I are total breakfast geeks; Margo replied that their regular restaurant hours are 8 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon, but they perform catering, party, and other custom services after hours, on an as-needed basis. Margo is a very vibrant, intelligent, and personable woman, and we enjoyed chatting with her, and we considered it an honor that she emerged from her denizens of the kitchen to chat with us, her first paying customers. I just had to ask Margo the question, "How fresh are your ingredients?" and she honestly told me that almost everything is made in-house, with locally produced, fresh ingredients. In her candor, she did reveal that some things actually do come from cans, as there is little alternative, in the real world, which is a fact of life. Upon my request, she welcomed me a visit to the squeaky-clean, stainless steel confines of the restaurant kitchen to take a couple of photos, which is a rarity seldom granted in the land of feared lawsuits.
During the course of our conversation with Margo, she let us know that Terrace stays away from the deep fryer, so our breakfasts would not be deep fried, as is the de facto standard with most breakfasts served by restaurants in the state of California. How do you serve a breakfast that isn't deep fried? We were to find that out...
Photo: Margo Powers welcomes David and Dan to her fantastic restaurant. We enjoyed her company, and felt privileged to be the first paying customers of the wonderful restaurant, and to be greeted with such enthusiasm. She seems to have captured the attention of Dan and David.
Oh yes, the $3000 coffee machine malfunctioned, in keeping with the things-that-can-go-wrong-factor on opening day, so the restaurant staff made an emergency trip to a nearby Starbucks, so we were treated to premium coffee at regular prices, at no additional charge to us. After many apologies, concerning the failure of the coffee machine, we were treated to delicious coffee, served in large mugs, and thankfully, due to the attention of our attentive, but not intrusive wait-staff of Jennifer and Taylor, our coffee cups were never empty. By the way, the coffee is served in something between a cup and a mug, which is just the right size, as it's never too hot, or too cold. The Terrace seems to have covered all of the bases... The malfunctioning coffee machine only added to the adventure and intrigue of being the first paying customers to enter the doors...
Shortly after Taylor had taken our orders, another couple entered the restaurant, and were promptly seated by Jennifer, at a table near us. We cordially exchanged "good mornings" but told them that we'd beat them to the punch, as we were the first patrons at the brand new restaurant; they didn't seem to care, as they seemed to be just "regular folks," not breakfast fanatics like we are. After all, we are the Sacramento Breakfast Club...
Co-owner Margo emerged from the kitchen, quite apologetic, and explained to us that she was attempting to rectify many last-minute problems, such as the problemic coffee maker. The Terrace features outdoor dining, but since the day of our visit was cold, drippy and foggy, with a temperature in the upper 30's, outdoor dining didn't seem to be an option. Margo explained to us that they are in the process of installing heaters to warm the patio during cold weather, and a waterless misting system, which is supposed to cool the patio by 20 degrees. We told her that we plan to put the system to the test in the coming summers, as knocking off 20 degrees in an outdoor setting, during one of Sacramento's scorching summer afternoons seems to be quite a challenge.
Photo: Taylor brings our breakfasts, served on square plates. Look through the windows, and you can see the outdoor seating on the patio, or should I say the terrace?
As a side dish to our breakfast, we'd ordered toast, and Taylor brought our toast to us, several minutes before our breakfasts arrived, as an appetizer to our breakfast, with each plate of toast accompanied by a small dish of strawberry jam He told us that the jelly was in-house made fresh by their executive chef, Bradley Koudela. Now I'm quite skeptical of any kind of jam, as I don't usually like sweet stuff, but after seeing the looks of enjoyment from my buddies, I had to spoon some of the jam on a slab of sourdough toast, and savor the moment. Well, I've had strawberry jam, and then I've had strawberry jam, but this jam was like no other strawberry jam that I've had the pleasure to enjoy; you have to taste it to believe it, as it's just that good!
Jennifer appeared to refill our coffee cups; was the coffee machine working, or did they make an emergency run to the nearby Starbucks? Some things are better unsaid... I love to photograph beautiful women, so I couldn't resist the opportunity to take a photo of her, but she also answered many of our questions about the restaurant, which ultimately helped to produce this article... When you combine the talented, efficient, friendly, yet non-intrusive wait-staff of Jennifer and Taylor, you have a combination that can't be beat.
Photo: Our friendly waiter, Taylor, refills our coffee mugs, as David and Dan prepare to enjoy their delicious breakfasts. My breakfast is in the lower-center of the photo, but since I was taking the photo, I'm not present. Note the white linen tablecloth and the elegant surroundings that the restaurant has to offer.
Editor's Note: As a total aside, this article has been one of the most enjoyable restaurant articles that I've ever had the pleasure to write and publish to this web site. Why? Well, how many times to you get to "open up" a new restaurant? How many times do you get to interact with real... not plastic... friendly people, that are happy with what they do, and make you feel like a member of the family? Cherish the moment and bon appetite!
OK, the main mission is the food, and we weren't disappointed, as Taylor brought our plates of food to our gorgeous table. However we were in for a HUGE surprise, as our orders arrived on square plates. Square plates? What in the what? We quizzed Taylor about the unusual plates, and he somewhat sheepishly admitted that the plates were new, as they were a brainchild of the owners. Unusual plates aside, what about the presentation of the food? In a word, spectacular!
Presentation aside, the rubber meets the road when you actually bite into the food. Dan, David and I have enjoyed many breakfasts together, and whatever remarks Dan or David have about breakfast, well, it's just as it comes from my mouth, as I trust their judgment entirely. David was unusually quiet during breakfast, as he'd take a bite from his biscuits and gravy breakfast, roll his eyes, and just sort of fade into breakfast nirvana. Perhaps it was because Terraces's biscuits and gravy is made from Italian sausage, and it contains large chunks of sausage in the gravy, or maybe David was intoxicated by the fact that the breakfast contains three biscuits... I don't know, but whatever the case, he was living in breakfast heaven, as he was practically speechless, which is unusual for David. As for Dan, he marveled at his golden-brown potatoes, as they were crispy golden on the outside, yet chewy tender inside, just like good breakfast potatoes are supposed to be, and he absolutely loved all of the "stuff" contained in his breakfast.
Photo: Friendly waitress Jennifer comes by to chat, and obviously she has David's attention, as she flashes a $50,000 smile for my digital camera.
Dan and David aside, I have to comment on my breakfast. Normally, I'm a "chicken-fried-steak-kind-of-guy," but for my opening breakfast at The Terrace, but I decided to break out of the mold and order something extremely different for me; a breakfast wrap from The Terrace, called "The Latest Wrap."
OK, so what is "The Latest Wrap?" Well, it features scrambled eggs, and Italian sausage, combined with Serrano chili, red onion, sweet peppers, cheddar cheese and fresh cilantro, together wrapped in a red pepper tortilla, served with a small bowl of green salsa on the side. When I say "on the side," don't think that the salsa is simply a side dish, as the salsa rates as some of the best salsa that I've ever had the pleasure to enjoy, north of the border of Mexico. As a side dish, "The Latest Wrap" includes a salad... what? How many breakfast restaurants serve a salad as a side dish to breakfast? We're used to these truck stops that offer an extra helping of gravy or a greasy slab of hash browns as a side dish, but a salad? Yes, The Terrace offers a side dish as a salad, and the salad is composed of premium cuts of green and purple lettuce, sprigs of fresh cilantro, and includes caramelized, roasted, nuts as components of the salad. Get this: The salad is dressed in real, balsamic vinegar. Wait a minute! A premium salad, dressed in balsalamic vinegar, for breakfast? Yes! Thumbs up! It's delicious. It's healthy, and it works at The Terrace. In all my many years of enjoying fine breakfasts, and being a lifelong resident of the great state of California, I've never had a breakfast served with a salad... well you learn something new every day. Keep in mind that "The Latest Wrap," like most entrees featured at The Terrace, isn't fried, so it's healthy, and relatively low in calories and free of most of the nasty baggage that's normally included with mainstream breakfasts, served at California, U.S.A. restaurants. Enough said.
Photo: My breakfast, "The Latest Wrap," with sourdough toast, delicious in-house made strawberry jam, water, in a crystal glass, perfectly-made coffee, and "The Latest Wrap" breakfast, to the right of the photo. Note the healthy, green salad, garmished with balsamic vinegar which is a true breakfast rarity. What about the square plate?
I attempted to get a comment out of David, about his fantastic breakfast of biscuits and gravy, but he really couldn't offer any coherent comments, as he seemed to have been transported into a sort of never-never land of breakfast nirvana, so I didn't question him further, as I didn't want disturb the angelic smile that he had on his face, after he sampled every bite of his breakfast. Dan was a bit more forthcoming, as like the man that he is, he dug in, and enjoyed every bite, and when I asked him for his opinion about his delicious breakfast, with a huge smile on his face, he replied "Mmmmm, mmmmm good!" My comments? Read the previous paragraph.
The Terrace offers fresh, delicious, innovative and healthy food, prepared by skilful staff, and presented by attentive and friendly staff, in elegant surroundings. Terrace isn't you're run-of-the-mill chain-store, corporate-owned and operated restaurant, so if you're expecting the "Big-D" service, attitude and prices, look elsewhere, as it won't happen at The Terrace. If you're looking for a quality breakfast, composed of wonderfully fresh ingredients, prepared by some of the friendliest and attentive folks that you'll ever get the chance to meet, then you owe it to yourself to pay a visit to The Terrace. You'll enjoy a wonderful meal, and you won't go away hungry, as the portions are ample, when you dine at the restaurant, you'll meet some new friends, and you'll leave with a smile on your face.
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