California Meets France
Arden Town restaurant is magnifique survivor
By Greg Sabin
I’m happy to report Plan B, the California-meets-France restaurant in Arden Town Center, hasn’t lost a step. When my mother called and asked if I’d like to go for dinner, it delighted me to learn the food and service are still on point. Plan B’s resilience makes a visit that much more joyful.
If you are not familiar with Plan B, I understand. The restaurant sits in the back section of the center, facing neither Watt Avenue nor Fair Oaks Boulevard, the two main cross-streets. Plan B is a little tricky to find on La Sierra Drive but worth the search.
During many visits, I’ve sampled most dishes and found them consistent reminders as to why French cuisine still sets culinary standards.
Each salad and simple appetizer is served with a presentation well above its starter status. A butter lettuce dish presents like a budding green flower. The wonderfully pungent Dijon vinaigrette brightens the salad and blends elegantly with the Roquefort, walnuts and sun-dried cherries.
Another example of subtlety and decadence working together is the raclette tart. Try to imagine a bowl of French onion soup, except it’s a pizza. Well, not exactly a pizza.
Plan B serves a few different “tartelettes” each night. It’s a 6-inch-wide puff pastry topped with ingredients from fennel and leek to tomato and goat cheese. One recent evening, the raclette tartelette was on the specials menu and not to be missed.
Raclette is an alpine melting cheese. Meant to be served warm and oozing, it topped the tartelette and covered a ridiculous pile of sauteed onions. The onions, sweet and tangy and tasting of an all-day cook, almost stole the show. But the cheese and onions sang in harmony.
The rack of lamb, beautifully seared to medium rare, stood out. It arrived well-seasoned with herbes de Provence and was served with sides of yummy mashed potatoes and ratatouille.
A dish of prawns in a rich tomato bisque hit every expectation. A plate of sliced duck breast with mashers and French green beans was masterful.
For me, the highlight of Plan B’s menu is the choice of mussels. Choose one of six different preparations, ranging from a classic white wine and garlic recipe, to an exotic coconut milk and cilantro preparation. At $16, the affordable price only makes the mussels that much better.
Mussels Provençal, which comes swimming in a sauce of tomatoes, garlic, basil and herbes de Provence, is a thing of beauty. Picking apart each mussel is a pleasure, but not as much fun as running a side of fries through the tomato broth left over once the mussels have been dispatched.
Desserts extend from the traditionally French crème brulee to a classic New Orleans dish, bananas foster. Again, each option shows expert work in the kitchen and is plated with elegance.
Talking to owner Chris Prybyla, I learned he was able to keep almost all his staff through the pandemic. Most of the staff, he tells me, have been at Plan B longer than he has.
Prybyla started dropping into Plan B many years ago to help former owner Lionel Lucas when an extra hand was needed. Having worked alongside Lucas as a friend, Prybyla was a natural choice to buy the business about four years ago and keep the menu just as the restaurant’s loyal regulars expect.
Prybyla says there’s magic in the little corner restaurant, and the neighborhood locals who frequent Plan B are like family. If you’re interested in adding some friends and family to your life, you would be hard pressed to find a better place than Plan B.
Plan B is at 555 La Sierra Drive; (916) 483-3000; planbrestaurant.com.
Greg Sabin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.