Archive for Lunching
Dark, casual, old…. It’s the kind of place I would normally frequent, so it’s also a little odd that my experiences with Old Ironsides are so limited. I remember someone suggesting going there one night after a party. It was rather late, but I guess we were still in party mode, and we arrived to find Old Ironsides of like mind. Bucho, a popular Sacramento-originated band with an engaging singer, was playing in the back room. The place was lively but there was still room to move around. I liked it.
That’s why it’s odd again that I didn’t return for nearly 4 years. This time: Lunch with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen for over 20 years. I was greeted from afar by the bartender when I walked in. The lunch crowd was much thicker than I expected. I found my friend and proceeded to catch up with her for 2 hours over food that was somehow simple, comforting and vibrant at the same time. We were again bid a farewell from afar as we parted and finally emptied the place out.
I can’t tell you what Old I looks like inside…. maybe perfectly dive-y. I know I have yet to experience this place fully, giving it my full, undivided attention. I know there’s more to discover here, and if it takes a ridiculous amount of time in order for me to do it, well, it’s certainly nothing personal.
Old Ironsides remains anchored at the corner of 10th & S, as it has since 1934. Named after the legendary war ship, “it was the first local establishment to serve liquor after the close of prohibition,” the proprietors say. I’m told by a local historian, however, that it was a speakeasy before that… But maybe that’s still supposed to be a secret?
The Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau held a networking mixer at Level Up Lounge on Tuesday night, February 23, 2010. The lounge is above Thai Basil Restaurant at 2341 J Street. (There’s a 3rd floor as well, but I think they try to keep that under wraps).
Level Up generously provided beverages and a variety of appetizers for guests, including chicken satay skewers, mango salsa on fried wontons and “beef jerky” on sticky rice pads. In addition, owner Suleka Sun-Lindley handed out coupons for her alluring mid-level space.
There’s something about the decor of this place that I just love. Rain or shine, it’s appealing and comfortable. With its colorful chandeliers, ever-color-changing backdrop lighting and sheer-curtain-covered windows overlooking the lights and action on J Street, Level Up has a unique look and feel all its own when it comes to Sacramento area lounges.
For the literally young, I think it can get pretty hip and hoppin’ late at night. For those of us a little older (but still young enough at heart), afternoon and evenings are always a great time to discover the place, take it over outright or duck into a low-lit corner.
The artist responsible for all the colorful, eclectic artwork currently adorning Level Up’s walls is John Titus Krempel, a well travelled and lived man with much to show for it.
I walked down the street slowly – because it was a hot one – and was surprised at how many people were nonetheless out and about. They were on bikes, pushing strollers, sitting on patios and porches, chatting on street corners, coming out of shops… you name it. I, on the other hand, was on an unusual but not before unheard of quest to find champagne and appetizers for later that evening.
There being no grocery store in the immediate vicinity, I assumed I’d likely return empty handed, but figured it was at least worth a try anyway. Then I noticed a couple reading the lunch specials on a menu board outside Italian Importing Co. They were, it seemed, looking for the perfect place to stop for lunch. With a deli counter and both indoor and outdoor tables, it’s a fine choice for a casual lunch downtown indeed.
But although lunch was not my personal goal on this day, I entered the shop at my own risk. What I found – to my ease and delight – were exotic groceries imported from Italy, an entire wall of wine (and champagne!), fresh fruit, cheeses and sliced meats, sparkling Italian sodas, olives, and well… a mission mightily accomplished – just 3 blocks east of my origination.
I say: When in doubt ~ ask around, check it out ~ why not try?!
I headed from the office to Old Soul Cafe, where I met my friend Julia Seebach, who owns MidtownGrid.com. I forgot my walking shoes, so thankfully it was a balmy 74 degrees and sunny. I took my time soaking up the scenery along the way, even sharing the trek with some co-workers heading to lunch at nearby Zocalo.
After the hugs and kisses and ‘Oh my it’s been so longs’, Julia and I ordered from their scrumptious $4 and $5 menu, grabbed one of the two outdoor tables and waited for our bottomless spinach salad to arrive. People passed through the alley and almost all imparted friendly greetings. One of the Old Soul people came out to water the large and very vertical rosemary plant near us. I might not have noticed had she not begun talking to it in such a sweet manner. Another Old Soul soul popped ‘round to tell us about the daily 2PM coffee tastings they now offer. And then Jason, one of Old Soul’s owners, passed by with a gentle ‘hello’.
I met Julia several years ago when I interviewed her and her husband Scott Smithline about their up-and-coming new business. A year or so later I interviewed Scott again, this time about recycling and the politics of recycling.
It’s funny how I always somehow feel like I’m coming full circle, although never quite closing the gap… perhaps always just open enough to new degrees of experiences, people and perspectives.