Randy Paragary has been a stalwart on the Sacramento bar and restaurant scene since 1969. Alumni of his kitchens dot the map of the area with restaurants of their own and have been in growing numbers for decades.
At the time of this writing The Paragary Restaurant Group includes 10 Sacramento area restaurants. The flagship since 1983 has been Paragary’s, which re-opened in June, 2015 after a 15-month, $1 million renovation.
I had been to the “old” Paragary’s many times over the years. So, when the “new” Paragary’s re-opened Jennifer and I made a reservation for the night after to re-opening. By the end of the evening I pronounced the place a home run in every way – food quality, décor, service, and even the design of the menu.
There were eight appetizers offered the night we were there. I would have been happy with any one of them. I opted for Mesquite Grilled Quail with fennel, arugula, bacon and bourbon marmalade, largely because I’m a sucker for quail. Jennifer started with Mary’s Chicken Liver Mousse with Marsala onions on toasted brioche. Both were excellent.
There were five salads and nine entrees on the menu the night we were there. We passed on the salads. After changing my mind a number of times, I ordered Grilled Leg of Lamb with English peas, fava beans, leeks, morels, mint pesto, lemon yogurt. Jennifer went for a second appetizer – Chilled Lamb’s Tongue with frisee, French breakfast radish, and sauce gribiche. Again, both hit the mark squarely.
I won’t list the other menu items from our visit because Paragary’s adheres to the Sacramento mantra of “farm to fork” and the menu changes based on what is locally available and seasonal.
For dessert I ordered Cherry Tarte Tatin, not because it’s something I’ve enjoyed in the past, but because I had never before seen it. I was skeptical; tarte tatin is supposed to be made with apples. I like cherries and the idea intrigued me. So, I decided to give it a try. One bite and I was sold. The crust was flakey and tasty and the cherry filling was perfectly balanced. What I expected to be overly sweet turned out to be evenly tempered.
Now, let’s discuss what $1 million can accomplish for an old building. The new dining room is open, light and welcoming. A large door at the back of the dining room opens onto a lovely patio dining area that is warmed by a fountain/waterfall, greenery and flowers. There are four tables for two in the bar and the noise from the bar area is well muted so as not to intrude on the dining area.
Paragary’s is woven into the fabric of Sacramento. It’s been a hangout for politicians, a destination for first dates and anniversary celebrations, and a place where marriage proposals have been made. It’s also been just a destination for locals who felt like a quality meal in a restaurant that always made them feel welcome. Randy Paragary has had his deft finger on the pulse of the city since Richard Nixon’s first term in the White House. He’s had more hits than misses. The “new” Paragary’s promises to be one of the hits.