Restaurant: The Fountain Grill & Catering
Address: 451 Main St. in downtown Placerville
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. and closed Sundays.
“Look at that burger. It’s ginormous!”
“One third of a pound? Really?”
“Good to see you’re seasoning it with salt and pepper. Many people forget that step”
“Man, that’s looking fantastic!”
And so the conversation goes with Tom Rosa, chef and co-owner of the Fountain Grill and Catering as I watch him prepare and cook my mushroom Swiss burger from across the counter.
The burger comes with the prerequisite lettuce, tomato and onion, which is all fine and dandy, but he hits it with something special that makes it all so very extraordinary: a home made, tangy and very delicious garlic mayo that miraculously seems to enhance the flavor of everything else.
Rosa enjoys cooking and it shows.
His partner Monika Geczy is a graduate from the Professional Culinary Institute, Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Art of College, Sacramento and she brings a table full of skills to the downtown eatery.
As I mentioned the burger itself is massive, but I neglected to tell you that the burgers they prepare and serve are always fresh to order, never frozen and cooked to perfection (I like mine medium well).
If I have one criticism, and it’s a small one, it’s the bun. There is a trend that’s been going on in the burger world where restaurants feel that they need to serve their burgers on huge, artisan buns, in this case ciabatta bread.
Yes, the ciabatta is tasty, but it’s just too much. Whatever happened to the plain old sesame buns?
My theory is that restaurants feel the need to differentiate themselves from the fast food chains that dot every community in the nation, and they’re doing it with their buns.
I’m here to tell you that that’s not necessary. A burger this good, and this fresh, doesn’t need to hide behind a fancy bun. A bun, in my opinion, should exist to hold the center ingredients together, nothing more. Let the burger shine, I say.
OK, enough of my sermonizing.
Let’s talk fries. These are some seriously delicious fries Rosa and Geczy are serving with their burgers. I’m of the opinion that French fries should be thin, crisp and steaming hot when they arrive with my burger.
Good fries that are seasoned correctly at exactly the right time (immediately after exiting the fryer) need no condiments.
Like the “bun thing,” let the main star be the star. I will admit, however, that I will occasionally dip my fries in ketchup, if the mood suits me. Something left over from childhood, I imagine.
And really, what else do you need?
There is nothing more satisfying than a good burger and tasty fries. The challenge is finding an establishment that does it well and does it constantly well.
The Fountain Grill is such a place. My lunch partner had one of the savory crepes, a Tuscan turkey stuffed crepe.
Making crepes right is a tricky business. It takes a steady hand, the right equipment and many, many years of practice. The simple definition of a “crepe” is simply “a very thin pancake,” but it’s not the crepe that makes it a meal, it’s what is put in the crepe that matters — again with the “bun thing” — sheesh.
The Fountain Grill offers a variety of both savory and sweet crepe options (one example: fresh strawberries in a light, refreshing strawberry spread. Yummy).
The restaurant is also quite famous for its handmade sandwiches. They are too numerous to mention, so drop in and try them all yourself.
I caught my lunch partner eyeing my burger a number of times. When I pressed him about it he said he had “Burger Envy.”
The Fountain Grill & Catering is located at 451 Main St. in downtown Placerville. The phone number is 530-626-7966. The hours are Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. and closed on Sundays.