Plan B Restaurant
555 La Sierra Dr (Intersection of Watt and Fair Oaks)
Sacramento, CA 95864
Plan B Restaurant is located in a rather unassuming Carmichael area shopping center, contending for the upper-middle-class dining out crowd that can't quite summon up the energy to drive all the way to Midtown. The restaurant was originally located in the Pocket region of town and was quite successful there, and, judging from the convivial crowd gathered here the other night, success has followed them. The owner originally hails from Provence and has attempted to transplant some of the food and ambience of his homeland to Carmichael, God bless his soul.
Plan B specializes in casual Frenchish bistro food, with a menu that focuses on small plates, salads,"tartelettes" (glorified pizzas), and a considerable assortment of mussel preparations. There are usually some larger, shareable plates on offer, as well as various and sundry side dishes. There's even a Frenchified burger with wild mushrooms jambon de paris, emmental, butter lettuce, and béarnise, which sounds nothing if not compelling. (Or overwrought, can't quite decide).
The mussels provencale in a spiced tomato sauce were quite good, with a piquant, briny flavor and a nice undertone of basil. The sauce was definitely considerably thicker then I'm used to in mussel preparations, but was still appealing. As every review of Plan B since the beginning of time itself has noted, the bread served on the side sucked. Let's get that over with now. (But yes, really, guys, you might want to rectify that. Gotta have good bread to go with mussels). The accompanying frites were pretty good and crispy, though not earth shakingly awesome or anything of that nature.
The short ribs, somewhat to our surprise, turned out to be served in a shepherd pie like format. This was a bit disappointing as the primary allure of a short rib is (to my mind) the enormous Fred Flintstone like bone the meat is presented to you on, with marrow intact if you are really quite lucky. This was a perfectly fine Shepherds pie with some fairly rich meat and a nice flavor, but it wasn't particularly remarkable - and could have been a smidgen warmer. Still, it functions nicely as pure comfort-food. The roasted vegetables on the side were quite tasty, though admittedly I am a perennial sucker for butternut squash.
The sea bass was also in the pleasant-but-unremarkable category, with a rich butter sauce and an accompaniment of mashed potatoes and fairly pedestrian vegetables. I'd shoot for more pizazz with an entree in that price point, personally - a bit too much of a hotel food thing going on here.
We also sampled a pleasant mache salad with brie, apple, and a light mustard vinaigrette, as well as the buttery (but small) tartlette.
The space is urbane and hip, which is quite a feat for a strip-mall located eatery - think minimalistic yet comfortable and you're not far off. Service was attentive, but rather slow - which is not necessarily a bad thing when one is relaxed and enjoying a good bottle of wine. Keep that in mind when considering Plan B as a pre-movie option.
On the whole, Plan B serves up good but not great French food in a convivial and friendly atmosphere. It's a very serviceable neighborhood hangout, and I do think I'll return for some booze, snacky items, and mussels.