Monkey Cat restaurant: fine dining in Auburn

BAY AREA TRANSPLANTS SEEKING a more laid-back lifestyle have helped shape the “sense of place” in our foothills towns, including revitalizing the dining scene. Few have been more influential than Jim and Trish Bril, who own Monkey Cat, a sophisticated yet fine dining establishment in downtown Auburn.

Jim worked at the famed Fior d’Italia restaurant in San Francisco’s North Beach for 25 years and was an owner for 15 years. He and Trish moved to the foothills and reenergized Monkey Cat with new menus and an exotic theme. Trish decorated the restaurant with local artwork, animal caricatures and photos to create a casual tropical feel.

“Monkey Cat is certainly worth a visit, whether you’re a local looking for a place to dine, someone passing through on the way to Lake Tahoe or you simply want to make a pleasant little road trip from Sacramento,” wrote the restaurant reviewer in the Sacramento Bee.

It has an eclectic, creative menu, using fresh local ingredients when- ever possible. Appetizers include soup du jour, antipasto, grilled stuffed mushrooms, apple brie crostini, shrimp and lobster wontons, crab cakes and mac ‘n’ cheese. We enjoy the restaurant’s cream of tomato gorgonzola soup, a perfect winter appetizer. Salads include a Caesar salad, blue cheese wedge salad, spinach salad, Greek salad, and Chinese chicken salad.

Dinner entrees feature juicy steaks, such as a black-pepper crusted and charbroiled bone-in, rib-eye steak paired with a red wine herb jus, with roasted potatoes and vegetables. The filet mignon is delicately topped with a creamy bourbon blue cheese sauce.

The lamb chops are delicious, prepared medium rare and served with an Argentine chimichurri, mashed potatoes and vegetables. A grilled duck breast is served with a ginger mandarin sauce. Other entrees include fresh fish (try the petrale sole); shrimp stir fry, chicken florentine and chicken cordon blue; and tortellini Diablo.

The lunch menu features fish tacos, a crab melt, a hot pastrami sandwich,and a turkey BLT, among other things. The Monkey Cat burger, served at lunch and dinner, is grass-fed beef, with caramelized onions, and cheddar cheese.

The homemade desserts are superb. Try the tiramisu. The wine list features a wide selection of award-winning local wines, from wineries. A back dining room, with a full bar, seats up to 28 people for parties and meetings.

MONKEY CAT
805 Lincoln Way, Auburn 888-8492 MonkeyCat.com

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