A Victorian-style tearoom housed in a 1929 firehouse doesn't seem a likely place for an April Fool's prank. But since Linde Lane Tea Room owner Kristina Wiley throws a themed special event each month, she decided to treat her guests to a surprise meal. Visitors took a drink of pineapple champagne, only to find their flutes filled with Jell-O. More prank courses followed, such as strawberry-chocolate cupcakes that were really mashed potatoes and meat topped with truffle sauce. As the diners laughed at each course, a President Obama impersonator walked in, convincing a young attendee that she was actually shaking hands with the commander-in-chief.
Wiley prides herself on making every visit to Linde Lane Tea Room a memorable one, whether through novelty events like these or seating parties in the 8-foot teacup booth, which Wiley calls "a piece of art people can sit in." Appearing on TeaMap's top 100 U.S. tearooms across the United States and ranked fourth best in California, Linde Lane Team Room evokes Victorian opulence through custom-made chandeliers, richly patterned carpets, and a dark wood bar where more than 49 fair-trade teas rest in copper canisters. The staff can also custom-blend teas for patrons, using martini shakers to blend loose leaves with spices such as raspberries, chocolate chips, and honeysuckle. An in-house pastry chef and culinary chef prepare every dish, including Linde Lane's safeguarded scone recipe, which took more than one year and 12,000 chef hours to perfect.
If you ask chef Lek Saicheur where her recipes come from, she may regale you with stories of the bustling open-air markets of Bangkok, Thailand, where vendors peddle fiery noodles and sizzling fried fish. While pursuing her master's degree at U.C. Davis, Saicheur shared these dishes with her fellow students in Thai cooking classes. Their enthusiastic response compelled her to eventually open up her own Thai restaurant—Thai Recipes.
Deep in the kitchen, Saicheur and her sister whip up a variety of traditional curries and noodle dishes. The aromas of fresh basil, spicy peppers, and garlic flood the air as the sisters simmer meats in pure canola oil or liquid hot magma. They complement their plates of pad thai, green chicken curry, and stir-fried clams with bottles of imported Thai beer and glasses of cool coconut water. Thai Recipes also purifies it's water by using a reverse osmosis system.
Run by a duo of longtime friends with a mutual love for baking, Cupcake Craving rocketed to popularity from its modest beginnings?within a year of the first store?s grand opening, Sacramento Magazine awarded it the Diners? Choice Award for the area?s best cupcake. Since then, the bakery has become a mainstay on CityVoters and KCRA 3's top-five dessert lists, and its handcrafted creations continue to earn new fans. Artful swirls of buttercream or cream-cheese frosting top the bakery?s diminutive cupcakes, which come in more than 20 traditional and signature flavors. The bakery can also handle orders for large parties and special occasions; an on-site artist designs custom cupcake cakes with special flavors and decorations to celebrate birthdays and welcome new gallons of milk into the home.
At Kathmandu Kitchen, kebabs of free-range chicken, lamb, and other meats marinate in aromatic blends of yogurt, garlic, and herbs before they're roasted in the tandoor oven's mesquite-tinged heat. This adherence to iconic ingredients and cooking techniques helps to imbue Kathmandu's cuisine with the distinctive flavors that define Indian and Nepali food. In addition to cooking these meaty entrees, the chefs also demonstrate their mastery of the region's multitudinous vegetarian offerings, including housemade paneer cheese cooked with a vibrant assortment of herbs, vegetables, and spices.
Deep earth tones fill the entire dining room, which includes a functioning fireplace in the center of a solid brick hearth. From time to time, a live belly dancer will glide through the dining room, impressing patrons as she deftly rights crooked tables with a bump of her hip.
You won't find Let Them Eat Cake!'s indulgent cake recipes published anywhere, since founder Paulette Coffman and her daughters Brittany and Chelsea fiercely guard their culinary secrets from competitors and town criers. But an interview with Sacramento Press in 2010 reveals three signature flavors that are served each day: red velvet, Guinness Stout chocolate, and vanilla. "We’re really kind of geared towards childhood favorites,” Paulette divulged. "But we’re also a little bit more innovative…You can find your standard red velvet here, but you can also find a margarita cupcake here."
In fact, the mother-daughter trio's three staple flavors are joined by a weekly rotation of 24 flavors, and customers can also commission more than 80 other flavors—including vegan and gluten-free options—via special order. These desserts always include real butter, fruits, and pure vanilla, and forgo preservatives since they're baked fresh each morning. Paulette, Brittany, and Chelsea stack the cupcakes into towers, line them up in boxes, and fashion them together as specialty cakes, donating $2 of their Flavor of the Month sales each Wednesday to charity. Alongside steaming mugs of Ritual coffee and Mighty Leaf tea, the Coffman women also dole out scones, breakfast sandwiches, and gourmet cookies that, like hand weights divvied up in a divorce settlement, weigh in at a 1/4-pound each.
Chefs infuse steak, seafood, sandwiches, and salads with just-reaped produce at Our House, an eatery praised by Davis Life Magazine for its striking décor of salvaged materials, including farmhouse windows and fencing slats. House-brined pork chops and organic chicken dishes replenish energy caches at rows of glossy, wooden tables that goad each other to walk the artfully lit planks lining the walls. Fresh-squeezed nectars swirl in the Market Muddle, a Wednesday-evening cocktail that spikes produce from Davis Farmers' Market before filling a glass on a wooden bar edged with bark. On Saturdays, live music fills the lounge, where leather chairs and crimson ottomans complement black-and-white masterpieces designed to put colorblind art critics on even ground with rivals.