Since the Sacramento Breakfast Club was formed a couple of years ago, many of our friends and co-workers have raved about Venita Rhea's, and have told us about the wonderful food, huge portions, attractive ambiance, and other accolades, but most of all, everybody we've talked to has given rave reviews to the friendly and wonderful people who cook the delicious meals, and serve the customers. We've been hearing advice like, "You guys just gotta go there, trust me, you'll love the place," and other kudos along the same line. After hearing one of my co-workers telling us that he'd eaten breakfast at Venita's about 30 times, on Friday, October 31, 2008, the Sacramento Breakfast Club decided to make the short drive east to Rocklin, and hold our bi-monthly meeting at Venita Rhea's.
Photo: Venita Rhea's is located in an attractive strip mall, and features attractive indoor, and outdoor dining. However, on this rainy Halloween morning, it's doubtful if anybody wants to take advantage of the patio dining.
Venita Rhea's features all of the trademarks that we look for in a restaurant, including:
After enjoying an absolutely wonderful meal at Venita Rhea's, I'm happy to say that the restaurant exceeded every one of our criteria, and a whole lot more. Read on...
Photo: Here's the view into the main dining room, as you walk in the door. Our table is to the rear, center of the photo, and you can see David sitting at our table, as he's wearing the blue shirt.
Venita Rhea's is a Rocklin icon, as they've been in business for 36 years. The restaurant is owned and operated by a local couple, and the staff and management of the restaurant pride themselves on quality food, using fresh ingredients, and large portions. But what sets Venita Rhea's far ahead of the pack is the service, as it's fast, efficient, and exceptionally friendly. The folks who work at Venita's enjoy what they do for a living, and that enjoyment is transmitted to the patrons in some of the best customer service that we've ever had the pleasure to enjoy.
The ambience of the restaurant vaguely resembles a fine restaurant that I once visited in the Napa Valley several years ago, as the decor just shouts California! Yeah, it's California decor all right, as it's light, airy, features brick work, pastel knick-knacks, and an attractive mural depicting scenes of the French countryside. It's spacious, comfortable, and ohhh soooo squeaky clean! If you savor the great outdoors, they have a shaded patio for outdoor dining, and you'll dine surrounded by potted plants, and you can admire the oak woodlands across the street as you dine. Truly, Venita Rhea's is a wonderful place to linger... Why not, as the dining experience includes complementary WiFi!
Photo: An "existing light" photo, we look from our table, towards the main dining room, and the windows that face to the west, which gives the restaurant an open, airy feeling. The breakfast bar and the entrance to the kitchen are to the extreme left of the photo. Venita Rhea's also features several large skylights, which allow the restaurant to be illuminated mostly be existing light, even on this rainy Friday morning.
We were seated at a round table for eight, and introduced to our attractive and exceptionally friendly server, Kelly, who immediately brought us ice water, and took our beverage orders. Today was Halloween Day, and Kelly, and all of the staff were dressed in various Halloween costumes, which lent a festive ambiance. When our coffee and juice arrived, Kelly asked us if we wanted to place our orders, but we asked her to hold on for a bit, as we were expecting another member to arrive, and we wanted to give him ample time to arrive, and study the menu. She said she'd check with us every so often, and to flag her down when our tardy member arrived. Speaking of the menu, it's extensive, and it truly features something for every taste. An interesting side note is that breakfast plates come with two eggs, but you can order a third egg for free, if you so desire. Everything on the menu looks sooooo good, the choices are extensive... but who's in a hurry at a place like Venita Rhea's?
Photo: Friendly waitress Kelly, complete with Elvis glasses and Halloween costume, takes Kathy's order. Check out the mural in the background, depicting the French countryside. Check it out, as that's not a real tie that Kelly is wearing, as it's painted on to her shirt.
Despite the fact that the restaurant is located only a few blocks from busy I-80, they do not cater to the freeway crowd, as the restaurant is geared to the taste of the local residents. Venita's does not need to utilize commercial advertising, as they rely on word of mouth rave-reviews from satisfied patrons. Thai's how we found out about Venita...
After waiting 20 minutes or so, it became apparent that today's eighth member wasn't going to show, so Kathy flagged Kelly over to our table, as she walked by. She profusely apologized to us for not checking in with us sooner, and not giving us the attention that we deserved, but we told her there was nothing to apologize about, as it had been our choice to wait for our no-show member. When it came my turn to order, I introduced myself, and explained to Kelly the mission of the Sacramento Breakfast Club, what we do, and about this web site. Venita Rhea's menu and web site states, "If you don't see what you want on the menu, or if you have a special dietary need, just tell us and we'll make it happen." Dan, David and I are fans of S.O.S. for breakfast, and as I was elected spokesman for our group, I asked her about the possibility of S.O.S. for breakfast. With a puzzled look, she asked me what S.O.S. is, and I explained to her, in very general terms, that it's a breakfast staple of all branches of the U.S. armed forces, and that it's composed of ground beef in gravy. "Wow! I've never heard of it," was her reply, and she asked me to give her more details and ingredients, and she'd talk to the cooks, to see if they could prepare it for me. I told her that it was ok, and that I'd order a chicken-fried steak breakfast, as to tell you the truth, my mind drew a blank about how to prepare S.O.S., despite the fact that I've published my own recipe for S.O.S. on another section of this web site.
Photo: Michelle brings Bev her order, as David looks on, eagerly anticipating his breakfast.
After a couple of minutes, Kelly returned from the kitchen, and told me that the cooks weren't familiar with S.O.S., but they'd be happy to prepare it if I'd give them more details. I declined her kind offer, as I'm always in the mood for a chicken-fried steak, and at the time, I really couldn't recall the details of preparing S.O.S.. Kelly suggested that I bring in the recipe the next time we visit the restaurant so the staff could prepare it for me, and she said that if they like it, they might start of offer it as a special, and they might even name it after me! Why not? I'm not shy, so I plan to email them the link to my S.O.S. recipe...
As we waited for our food to arrive, we were treated to pleasant conversation, endless cups of delicious coffee, and Venita's comfortable and attractive surroundings.
Photo: Kelly poses for the camera, as she shows a HUGE plate of chicken-fried steak, to be placed before David, as he stares, in shock and awe. You can see a portion of the attractive mural in the background of the photo.
Everybody that had recommended Venita's to us had attested to the fact that Venita Rhea's excels in delicious food, and when our entrees were brought to our table, we weren't disappointed, as the food arrived piping hot from the kitchen, beautifully presented, and in such great quantities that Kelly had to get Michelle to help her out. The food looks delicious, smells delicious, and as I was to find out, is delicious. All that is said regarding the quantity of food offered is true, as my breakfast was contained on no less than three plates. You won't walk away half-full from this restaurant.
Photo: Kathy and Mark are captured by my digital camera, as they begin the "breakfast ritual," and are somewhat distracted by something stupid that Dan just said.
Is the food really as good as people say it is? Definitely! My "Breakfast Platter, featuring chicken-fried steak as the main entree, along with three eggs, homestyle potatoes and biscuits and gravy arrived on three plates! The steak was battered in a delicious batter, and the meat was so tender that I didn't need a knife to cut it, and it practically melted in my mouth. The piece of meat was huge, probably 10 or 12 ounces, which is about as much meat as I normally eat in three days! (I like to keep my weight in check...) The homestyle potatoes were chunky, and crispy, golden brown on the outside, and moist and tender on the inside, and not at all greasy. I ordered the third egg option, and my eggs arrived over easy, as ordered, cooked to perfection. On the side was a plate with two delicious biscuits, covered with in-house made sausage gravy, ,with lots of juicy chunks of sausage. An orange slice was arranged for a garnish, and to add to the beautiful presentation, but to me, the slice of orange complemented the glass or cranberry juice that I ordered with the meal. The meal was perfectly cooked, not at all greasy, and had just the right amount of salt. To describe the meal in one word? Delicious. Everybody else had similar comments about their meals.
Photo: My delicious breakfast arrived on no less than three plates! From left to right: Biscuits and gravy; gravy has lots of homemade sausage chunks... mmmmm goood! Plate of three eggs, over easy, homestyle potatoes, garnished with an orange slice. To the right of the photo is a gigantic chicken-fried steak, covered with more delicious, in-house-made breakfast gravy, with lots of chunks of sausage. Such a wonderful breakfast!
The phrase "service with a smile" may be a cliche, but it superbly describes the wonderful service we received from our waitress, Kelly. She's a friendly,down-to-earth person, who really makes you feel at home, and who really cares about the folks she serves. She's fast, efficient, and a great operation, but not intrusive, nor does she appear rushed in anything that she does. I have an eye for beautiful women, and she's definitely easy on the eyes. I joked with her about the Elvis sun glasses she was wearing as part of her Halloween costume, and the fact that I couldn't tell what color her eyes are, so she lowered her glasses to reveal a pair of beautiful, green eyes. I love to chat with beautiful women!
Photo: Halloween, 2008 Breakfast Club members, from left to right: Kathy Sanchez, Mark MacIntire, Eric Rench, your author and webmaster, David Demario, Bev MacLeod, and Dan MacLeod.
Kelly noted that we weren't dressed for the occasion, as it was Halloween, so she presented a bag of stickers and offered to give each of us a sticker, to stick on us so we'd look a little festive. Mark, in keeping with his gentile nature (he's planning to go deer hunting this weekend, does that tell you something? ...) made a comment about where to place each sticker, which brought the first round of laughter to all of us, but he must have taken his own advice to heart , as he placed his spider sticker on the end of his nose, and Dan placed his sticker on his forehead! Round two of laughter... What sort of friends do I hang out with?
Photo: Kelly hands out Halloween trinkets to David, as Dan looks on. In the spirit of Halloween, all of us attached a trinket to various parts of our attire, as later photos will show you, a couple of us took the Halloween spirit to the extreme, but at this point, I won't mention any names... Check out the painting and the brick work in the background of the photo.
As a humorous post script to this article, fellow Breakfast Club member Brad Holther couldn't make today's meeting, due to family commitments, and a hectic work schedule, and during the previous week, he'd been making rude comments to us at work, comments along the lines of "I know you'll be served cold coffee by a mean, ugly waitress, and the food will be lousy and greasy." Sour grapes! So when he walked into work tonight, I yelled at him, "Hey Brad! Do you want to hear about what you missed?" He said "Heck no!" and as he began to log into his computer terminal, I came over to him and said, "Well Brad, I'm gonna tell you anyway about what you missed at Venita Rhea's today. Buddy, you were right, as the coffee was cold, the waitress was mean and ugly, the food was greasy and salty, the place was dirty, and the service was lousy." He looked at me, and said "Liar," and we both busted out laughing, simultaneously. He said "I can't wait until you publish the article on the web site to see what I missed!" Brad, my friend, you'll get your chance to dine with the club at Venita Rhea's, as we'll be back again soon.
Left: Yes, Dan, you have to display your Halloween sticker on your forehead? Right: Mark plasters his Halloween spider to his nose, as Kathy attempts to ignore him. Mark was planning to go deer hunting the following day, so at least he has an excuse for his antics, so please excuse the deer hunter in our midst. At least Mark, as an avid deer hunter ,has an excuse for his excentric behavor. Dan... well, I don't know about him... Where are you Brad?
All together, our dining experience at Venita Rhea's was absolutely wonderful, and unforgettable. We loved the light and breezy California-style decor, the wonderful cuisine, the huge quantities, the attractive presentations, and the reasonable prices. We basked in the friendly, attractive service, and we absolutely fell in love with Kelly, who made us feel like family. We'll be back, perhaps to enjoy a breakfast of S.O.S.. Venita Rhea's is highly recommended by members of the Sacramento Breakfast Club.
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