In the northern, unincorporated area of the greater Sacramento, Ca. metroplex, Madison Ave. is a major artery that carries thousands of vehicles daily in an east-west direction, from Watt Ave. to the American River, and the foothills that border Folsom Lake. As you negotiate the sometimes traffic-clogged thoroughfare, you'll pass by a mixture of tract homes, strip malls, auto dealers, shopping centers, and suburbia! For the last several weeks, the Sacramento Breakfast Club has had scouts reporting on the progress of a new restaurant in town, Lumberjacks, and they were able to watch on a daily basis the new restaurant rise, like a phoenix, from the ashes of a defunct, national chain restaurant. When our scouts reported that Lumberjack's Restaurant was finally open for business, the board members of our club called an emergency meeting, to be held at Lumberjack's, on Friday morning, February 27, 2009.
Photo: Lumberjack's Restaurant is located in a well-maintained, suburban strip mall, along busy Madison Ave. We love the motto on the sign that reads, "Where the big boys eat." Quite true!
Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to "open" the restaurant, like we did last year with The Terrace last year, as the restaurant opened on Tuesday, four days before our visit, but all was not in vain, as the restaurant was still very new, very pristine... it almost appeared that the paint on the walls had barely dried. Lumberjack's Restaurant is a small chain of three restaurants, with other stores in nearby Yuba City and Redding, and has plans to expand into the Bay Area, and the restaurant offers hearty, rustic cuisine, huge portions, at popular prices. It was explained to me that Lumberjack's is taking up where another chain of restaurants left off, and rejuvenating and reinventing the defunct stores, and molding them into the essence of Lumberjack's. That's a Paul Bunyan sized mission in today's economy, and members of the Sacramento Breakfast Club wanted to be a part of that historic endeavour.
Photo: Andrea, who we met previously at during a club meeting at The Pancake House, has captured Mark's attention. Sharon is in the background of the photo, headed our way with a full pot of delicious coffee.
With a name like Lumberjack's Restaurant, you expect the restaurant to be rustic, and it is, both inside and outside. The outside resembles a mountain chalet, complete with logs and river rocks, and a big ol' mascot of a lumberjack, complete with upraised axe, in front of the restaurant. As I walked inside the restaurant, the first thing that I noticed traditional country music played in the background, yes, we're talking the likes of Leona Williams, Earnest Tubb, Willie Nelson and George Strait, and the friendly, familiar smile of the hostess, Andrea, as she greeted me. Andrea knew who I was, as one of our scouts, and charter club member Dan, and his lovely wife Bev and visited the restaurant the previous day, and told her that the club was due to arrive today. Plus, Andrea remembered me from the days when she worked at Original Pancake House... I suppose my charming ways, flirtations and my digital camera made an impression on her.
Photo: Sharon and Marie pick up orders, waiting at the kitchen. We met Marie during a previous club meeting, back in 2007, while she was working at Country Gables in nearby Roseville. She, along with Andrea, are now employed at Lumberjack's Restaurant.
As you'd expect, Lumberjack's Restaurant is rustic inside, as it features waistcoating, faux logs, and lots of black and white photos of old time logging operations. But rustic is only skin deep, as underneath all of the rustic window dressing is a first-class modern, restaurant, complete with a computer terminals and a LAN to facilitate efficient operation. Unless you project a mind-photo of what the restaurant looked like in it's previous life, you'd hardly believe that you were in the same place, as the transformation from ho-hum to excitement is complete. We like the comfortable decor, the friendly atmosphere, and the "y'all come back soon" attitude of the staff and patrons.
Lumberjack's menu features entrées for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but since we're the Sacramento Breakfast Club, our eyes focused on the extensive breakfast selection, which features something for every taste. Choices with names like Black Angus chicken fried steak, Meat Lover's Skillet and Logger's Special caught our eye... how could you resist cuisine with such woodsy, rustic names? Friendly Andrea left us in the capable hands of Sharon, who took our orders and kept our coffee cups full of Lumberjack's delicious coffee.
Photo: These are the guys who cook the great food that Lumberjack's serves.
Today, Brad and Matt planned to give Dan "the needle," as during a club meeting a few weeks ago at River's Edge Café, Dan spilled his coffee, while telling a silly joke. Among our group, such transgressions don't go unheeded, as Brad and Matt had been planning to capitalize on said event, so before I left from work the previous night, Brad slipped me a "sippy cup," courtesy of Matt's young daughter, so set at Dan's place in the restaurant the next morning. Like the duty-oriented individual that I am, I obliged, and Dan was presented his "sippy cup" at today's meeting. Laughter and a coffee toast to our club, and it's mission followed with great fanfare!
Photo: I asked our charming waitress, Sharon, to strike a pose for my camera, and she did, with style. This photo gives a good idea of the rustic decor inside the dining room. Note the old-time logging photos, and the pseudo old fashioned lamps.
Nobody is immune from being on the business end of the club's needle, not even your friendly photographer, author and webmaster, as somehow the conversation turned to the next day's culinary event, as Dan and I planned to go hot doggin' at a new hot dog establishment that I'd heard about. As I attempted to explain to the club members the components of an authentic Chicago style hot dog, Mark took special note when I described an "all-beef wiener that features natural casing, and snaps when you bite into it," and seemed to transcribe the simple statement into something slightly risqué and of questionable taste, which brought a huge round of laughter from the club members. Me, the recipient of today's booby prize? Well, it can happen to anybody in our crowd!
Photo: Sharon writes down Bruce's order of a Meat Lover's Skillet, while the rest of today's members ponder the menu. Lumberjack's breakfast menu offers many choices, with something for every taste.
Just as I was I was about ready to crawl into the hole that I'd dug for myself, Sharon appeared with plates of food. The moment that we'd been waiting for had arrived, and I was let off of the hook, as the business portion of the club meeting was about to being: The serious business of enjoying a lumberjack breakfast at Lumberjack's Restaurant...
As soon as the food was placed on the table before us, we noticed that Lumberjack isn't just an ordinary restaurant, and they don't serve an ordinary breakfast. The portions are big, really big, and are big enough to satisfy Paul Bunyan's appetite, and maybe have a bit left over for Babe. The food arrived hot from the griddle, as the restaurant doesn't employ heat lamps. Oh yes, the presentation is attractive, and the food smells so very fresh... Do they raise cattle and potatoes in the parking lot behind the restaurant? Factor in efficient, friendly service, and endless cups of some of the best coffee to be found in Sacramento, and that puts Lumberjack's Restaurant at front of the line.
Photo: Mark's Denver omelette arrives, as Sharon places it on the table. Bruce's Meat Lover's Omelette can be seen to the extreme left of the photo. Bruce is the only club member who doesn't drink coffee, and several times, the rest of us have pondered having him excommunicated from the club, for that transgression.
Gee, I wish that I could eat everything on the menu, but that's impossible, so the next best thing to do is to check out what the other club members eat and compare notes. Today's choices from the menu:
Meat Lover's Skillet
All of us ordered country style potatoes, and most of us ordered biscuits and gravy, rather than toast, which is a de facto standard side dish for members of the Sacramento Breakfast Club.
Photo: My delicious breakfast of Black Angus chicken fried steak, country potatoes, eggs over easy, coffee, and a side plate of biscuits and gravy.
Photo: Dan raises his "sippy cup" in a toast, to today's delicious breakfast.
Actually, I hadn't planned on ordering a chicken fried steak breakfast, as I had my eyes set on one of the skillet dishes, but with a name like Black Angus Chicken Fried Steak, I couldn't resist. What in the world is a Black Angus Chicken Fried Steak breakfast, anyway? It's a 12-oz chicken fried steak, made from prime beef, battered and deep fried the way a chicken fried steak should be, and topped with creamy, country style gravy, with eggs and either hash brown or country potatoes on the side... it's my favorite combination for breakfast!
Comparing notes during the after-the-breakfast autopsy in the parking lot, all club members agreed that Lumberjack's Restaurant is a quality addition to the Sacramento breakfast scene, as their breakfast lives up to our expectations and exceeds our criteria, in that the food is fresh, delicious, skillfully prepared, served by friendly and efficient staff, features ample portions, reasonable prices, and is served in a comfortable, family-friendly atmosphere.
Photo: Today's breakfast club members, from left to right: Eric Rench, your webmaster, author and photographer, Dan MacLeod, Bruce Coulter, Mark McIntire, Matt Donnelly and Brad Holther. Brad and Matt came up with the "sippy cup" gag for Dan's benefit.
We welcome Lumberjack's Restaurant to our area, and we encourage you to pay them a visit, as we know that you'll love them as much as we do. Lumberjack is highly recommended by members of the Sacramento Breakfast Club.
Update: At midnight, as I was leaving work and charter club member David was waling in the door to work, I related to him our meeting at Lumberjack's Restaurant, and told him that his company was sorely missed. (He'd had some important errands to run, so he had to miss Friday's club meeting) He mentioned that after work, he was going to Lumberjack's, solo, to check it out. I mentioned to him if I wasn't planning on the hot dog excursion the next day, to Heavenly Dog, I would have joined him for breakfast, as Lumberjack's is worth eating at two mornings in a row.
Photo: Mark poses with Sharon in front of the restaurant, during the post-meal autopsy. This gives you a size of Lumberjack's mascot... this due is big, just like the breakfasts the restaurants serves.
February 28, 2009: The next morning, while I was out on my daily walk, about 0830, I sent a text message to David, to see if he'd made it to Lumberjack, and he replied back that he was at Lumberjack's Restaurant, and he was in the process of enjoying a delicious breakfast of steak, eggs, country potatoes, with biscuits and gravy on the side. Way to go, David!
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