Monday, July 4, 2011

Breakfast at the Palomino Room

The old Palomino Room in Sacramento was a steak house. They served lunch to local businessmen, and, at night, they produced fine grilled steaks. True, they had other stuff on the menu, but what the regular crowd showed up for were the steaks. Dad liked the lion sized rib steak, grilled rare, with a baked potato on the side – Dad like his slavered with butter and nothing else.

Then, on Sunday mornings, there was something really special.  See, the Palomino Room was closed every Sunday, as used to be traditional in the restaurant industry.  But some Sunday mornings, Harry and Ray and their chef, Nick would be in the restaurant, cleaning things up, making necessary repairs, and preparing for the week to come.

Whether this custom started merely to feed the staff that was in house on Sunday morning or as a thank you to their regular customers, I do not know, but word got around to the regulars that, if they came by on Sunday morning, breakfast would be served. The bar was open, and Mon and Dad usually ordered Ramos Fizzes or Bloody Marys.

The star of the show, however, was the salty and succulent breakfast served up by Nicolas. He got tremendous quality city style hams that he cut into thick, ½” thick steaks, 10” around. He broiled them on the grill until they had crosshatched carbon grill marks, making the ham utterly delicious. As a garnish for the ham, he grilled a slice of fresh pineapple. It was magnificent in its simplicity. He served it with simple, coarsely cut spuds that were buttery and had a hint of onion, and a pair of eggs, cooked to order. In those days, mine were scrambled wet, Mom’s were poached, and Dad’s, over easy.

Early on a Sacramento summer Sunday, it was heaven. I cannot find ham that compares to that in quality and texture, nor can I find the ambition to fire up the Weber at that time of day, but I may try soon.  It will never be the same at home – it will never be the dear old Palomino Room.