Mother, Chef Michael Thiemann's eagerly-awaited vegetarian restaurant, opened in Sacramento last week. According to the restaurant's website, "Mother is a vegetarian restaurant built by and for omnivores with the aim of offering great food that just so happens to be meatless." My husband and I were there for lunch on opening day and found a steady stream of customers lining up at the counter.
The menu available on opening day didn't identify the vegan options, so I had to ask the staff for more information about the menu items. My first and second choices turned out not to be vegan. Since a line was starting to form behind me at the counter, I didn't want to slow things down by quizzing the cashier about all the other options, so I decided to just go with the Napa Cabbage Salad.
This beautifully-presented salad was a tasty mixture of cabbage and other greens, soy beans, watermelon radishes, carrots, sprouts, marigold petals, black sesame, grapefruit, and fried tofu, with a white miso-based dressing. I especially enjoyed the combination of the tofu and the grapefruit.
When I got home, I sent a message to the restaurant staff asking which of the menu items were vegan. They said they were reprinting their menus to indicate which dishes are vegan or gluten-free, and they sent me a copy of the new menu. The Carrot Nut Burger is listed as vegan, even though it comes with honey mustard, but they can substitute agave mustard or a harissa-based option instead.
I went back the next day, but didn't have the new menu with me and somehow managed to inadvertently order a dish that wasn't vegan, so I won't blog about that item. I did order a vegan dessert, though -- a Pineapple Mousse that was listed on the Specials board. It was silky and delicately-flavored, topped with candied cashews, chopped mango, puffed quinoa, and toasted sage. I wish it were on their regular menu instead of just being a special because it was superb!
Since the opening of an upscale vegetarian restaurant in Sacramento is kind of a big deal, I made one more visit with my friend Cathy before finishing this article. This time, the reprinted menu identifying the vegan options was in the restaurant, making ordering much easier. I decided on the Split Pea Soup, which Blair Anthony Robertson, the Sacramento Bee's restaurant critic, had dubbed "an instant classic." Creamy and delicious, it was garnished with carrot harissa and a falafel crouton, which really made this dish.
I also ordered the Fried Okra, seasoned with lemon and chili. Rather than cutting the okra in horizontal rounds, which is the way I usually see it, the okra was cut vertically before it was fried. It was a nice flavorful little snack.
The Pineapple Mousse was still listed on the Specials board, so I ordered it again. This time, chopped grapefruit replaced the chopped mango, but I liked the dessert just as much as I had the first time I tried it.
Since the current menu is labeled "Winter," I assume it will change seasonally. I can't wait to see what creative options will be on the menu for spring. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to trying the Eggplant Gumbo and the Romanesco and Broccoli very soon. Look for pictures from my future visits on my Sacramento Vegan Facebook page.
Mother is located at 1023 K Street, and their phone number is 916-594-9812. The website address is http://mothersacramento.com/, and their Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/mothersacramento. Last week, they were open for lunch only, but according to their Facebook page, they're going to start serving dinners this week. Lunch will be served Monday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and dinner will be served Tuesday through Saturday from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. I don't know what the lines will be like for dinner, but if you're going for lunch, it's best to arrive right after the restaurant opens or later in the afternoon because the line is out the door during the noon hour.