I wrote last week of Manderes and the hype I was hearing from reps and distributors in the area, also mentioning they'd be open for business this weekend. It wasn't a big surprise then that Mike and Terri Sober found Tracy and I there yesterday, enjoying the area's newest beer haven.
Manderes is not an easy place to find, with a sign that seems to have been hung to keep people away, blending perfectly with the background and being dimly lit (if lit at all). That said, I was more than happy to find them, knowing as soon as I walked in I'd be there for a while. Greeting patrons walking in is a long, sleek bar with 20 taps of top-notch beer and literally 100 bottles of beer on the wall (yes, 100 bottles of beer). The warm color scheme, complimented by ceiling fans that are more modern than I and tile floors, are a welcome feel for a beer bar - a place where business lunches could be held or quiet evenings with your loved one.
Owners Brent and Dave clearly have a taste for the finer things in life, as taps featured Maredsous, Chimay, Allagash, Brother Theloneous, Old Rasputin and a Belgian Quad from De Koningshoeven. In bottles, the lineup is equally impressive, with dozens of bottles from Belgium, Germany and Italy, featuring the finest from each country.
I met up with a group of local beer enthusiast friends and was happy they were there, affording me the opportunity to sample beers without getting trashed. For ourselves, Tracy and I enjoyed glasses of Allagash White, De Koningshoeven Quad and Old Rasputin, all poured fresh from the tap. The table next to us was full of eager beer nuts ordering bottles of beer and enthusiastically appreciating the area's newest beer joint. One fellow, a beer traveling man, told me he thought this place was a top-four beer bar for the entire state of California. I don't know if I'd put them that high in a state that boasts bars like Toronado, O'Briens and Liar's Club, but these guys certainly have a top-tier establishment. Will they stay that way? Too early to tell, the place isn't the easiest to get to and depend solely on word-of-mouth promotion, so no one really knows how their vision will play out long term, but I'm one who's desperately hoping this place succeeds and works to serve the masses of the Sacramento region for years to come.
I will go out on a limb here. Manderes, as it is today, is already the best the beer joint in my area. There is little doubt about that.
Manderes isn't just your run-of-the-mill beer joint. With immaculate seating and great lunch and dinner menus, you will be in no way embarrassed to go here with your date for a romantic meal. Tracy and I were there for lunch, so we ordered the Steak Salad and a Cheeseburger to share. The salad was fantastic, the beef cooked to order (rare for us) and too easy to enjoy - we both wanted more, even though the portions were generous. The burger was also impressive, served medium-well and topped with cheddar and blue cheeses (our choice) and atop a fresh made roll (not pre-packed buns). On the side of the burger was a fine wasabi sauce that was a hit with all at the table, just the right amount of heat, not overpowering the meal.
We were told by others that the dinner menu was perhaps better than lunch, with the pork dish (sorry, no name given for this) being good enough on its own to bring one patron back. Prices for the meal were appropriate, in the ten dollar a plate range for lunch. I suspect dinner options will run around 15-20 bucks per, but with the quality of the food and the care of presentation, it's money well spent. There were finger food options too for pub fare prices, so if you just need to have onion rings, you can get those too - although they're a bit gourmet.
From the newly laid tile flooring to the slick new flatscreens on the wall, this place was carefully designed for comfort. Nice tables, proper glassware for the beers you choose (not just pint glasses) and one ounce tasters from the taps ensure that you're time at Manderes will be as good as you'll get at any upscale restaurant in the 10-20 dollar per plate range. We were there in the height of Sunday football, and each TV featured a game for our viewing pleasure. However, unlike a 'sports bar', the volume was low and it was easy to converse with friends around us.
The help was more than friendly, and while it was all still new to them, they did a hell of a job making sure we had what we needed, what we ordered and that we weren't left wanting. There were the bumps you'd expect in a place like this on their opening day - sometimes it took a while for them to find the beer you asked for (and with over 100 in bottles, that was expected), but they never missed a beat when it came to making you feeling welcomed and appreciated.
Will I be back? You bet your ass I'll be back, hopefully soon.
402 E. Bidwell