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Magpie Caterers Market & Cafe
1409 R Street, suite 102, Sacramento

If you could take words meaning “unexpected,” “in a good way” and “fulfilled” and put them into one word, that is exactly how I would describe my luncheon experience at Magpie Caterers Market & Café.

Strolling up to the newly finished half-block brick building, I was shocked I hadn’t noticed the Midtown renovation. The temperate, but overcast afternoon had just a bit of a breeze and demanded an outdoor eating sesh. Crossing the very threshold into the embrace of the Magpie Market & Café, I instantly felt transplanted to a perfect metropolis far, far away. Who’d have known it could take so little, or that one little market café and its caretakers could create such a fulfilling scenario.

When making a decision on what to eat at the counter with gourmet food on full display, I wasn’t overwhelmed with choices or ingredients. There’s a solid set of certain items featured daily, but the market café also features revolving specials and soups. With actual plates of the specials on display, there’s no guessing whether or not the ensemble selection is appetizing.

Although the roasted carrot with parsley oil soup of the day was my top choice, they were fresh out by the time I arrived that mid-afternoon. That was unfortunate, but led me to choose the grilled free range chicken and chipotle cheddar sandwich with organic black bean salad ($9.25). Viewing all the salads, a golden beet, orange and basil salad caught my eye, and I asked to have it accompany my panini, supplementing the black bean salad. My lunch buddy chose the signature Fra’Mani sampler ($9.75), two half sandwiches featuring different Italian meats from Fra’Mani Handcrafted Salumi in Berkeley.

The baked goods distracted me from the beverages and by the time I spontaneously ordered a cinnamon pear scone with sage, I realized I had no room left for liquids. My buddy ordered a fresh lemonade that was tart and served with a sprig of mint.

Magpie Caterers Market & Café

The grilled chicken sandwich was warm, with tender chicken on crunchy ciabatta bread, with white chipotle cheddar and cilantro sprigs. Guacamole sans jalapeños and tomatoes accompanied as an optional spread. I think guac is only avocado dip without tomatoes, but smoky ground chilies seemed to fill the space nicely. The golden beets were from-the-garden fresh (like all of the veggies!) and surprisingly seasoned with basil, olive oil and tons of wonderfully cracked peppercorn.

The attention to detail given in creating the Fra’Mani sampler is obvious. Two simple-as-meat-and-ciabatta bread sandwiches were presented side by side like Italian tacos and served with a mixed spring greens salad garnished with shaved fennel and fennel seeds. One sandwich featured traditional dry cured salami and topped with grilled red peppers that were smoky, but not at all sweet. The other, presenting a cooked cotto salami that had a wonderful honey ham quality with lightly pickled red onion served atop.

We didn’t necessarily get lots of food, but we were quite full. It’s strange how very fresh, flavorful, high quality food has a way of doing that to you.

Although dining was a casual order-at-the-counter protocol, the service was great and genuine. Food was delivered to our table and staff followed up for any needs. Both of the owners were behind the counter and delivering food and I have a feeling they’re at the café most days.
Janel Inouye and Ed Roehr have been homies and partners in fine food for many years. After growing up in Sacramento, Inouye and Roehr worked together and separately in locations all over the U.S. and abroad before deciding to open their own catering company four years ago. Magpie Caterers Market & Café is not new to Sacramento, but it’s relocation from Del Paso to Midtown is.

Inouye and Roehr shared more about their company that they started in the “bread basket of the state” because Sacramento is “the place to be if you wanted to make interesting food, seasonally,” according to Roehr.

When people choose to dine out for fine food, they have different expectations for the price and service. Inouye and Roehr opened a market café to offer people a more casual environment, where they enjoy fine food and feel free to do as they please in a café setting, Roehr said.
“[We offer] nicer quality food, but little bit more approachable, a little more affordable,” Inouye said.

“I really hope people come and use the space,” Roehr said. “And come and see what we have to offer.”

I found my lunch to be a very fulfilling experience. My appetite was engaged and satiated and my spirits raised from the setting, service and sandwiches.

I honestly couldn’t find a thing wrong with the Magpie Caterers Market & Café or the food it offers. For what it is, it seems to be perfect. I can’t wait to go back for dinner.

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