FEAST Pop-Up Dinner in Old Sacramento

In kindergarten, we all learn that “sharing is caring,” allowing Adam some time on the swings, or Alycia some time playing with the ball, yet today what sharing we do tends to happen less IRL (in real life) and more in the intangible inner workings of the interwebs (see: “sharing” on social media). Where Adam and Alycia — strangers at first — may have become our best friends by the end of play time, meaningfully interacting with new people as adults happens so seldom that we jumped at the chance to do just that at FEAST, the pop-up dinner concept of the forthcoming East Sacramento restaurant, Canon.
Following the eucalyptus-lined signs down the stairs of the Arcade Building in Old Sacramento, we emerged into a string-light- and candle-lit room where we were directed to our assigned table — part of a much longer (and impeccably adorned) table, lined together to encourage sharing, both of words and dishes. Though the idea of having an assigned table may seem restricting, the experience actually ended up feeling rather refreshing. While we knew people at the dinner that we might have sat with if told to sit anywhere, we were glad to have had the chance to commune with new people. We talked with the strangers at our table about travels, restaurants, local news, and ourselves and we learned new things too.

After hearing some words of welcome from Canon owner Clay Nutting, we got the run-down from Executive Chef, Brad Cecchi: “We tried to do a throwback to an older way of eating, a more classical way of eating, where you share. With a name like ‘FEAST,’ we’re going to bombard you with food and hope that you come out on the other side.” And bombard he did!

With a name like ‘FEAST,’ we’re going to bombard you with food and hope that you come out on the other side.”

Chef prepared for us a passport-worthy line-up, with dishes smacking of flavors from North Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia. Despite these seemingly far-reaching locales, Chef Checchi described his menu as “American fare, a cultural, comfortable way of eating,” getting to the heart of a value for Cecchi — that guests feel included and that they eat socially.

Case in point, in terms of feeling included, one effort that will no doubt be appreciated by those wary of whole-table sharing due to dietary restrictions or lifestyle choices, is that the dishes were created as stand-alone dishes, so to speak. Chef Cecchi’s time spent cooking for the health conscious in a spa atmosphere as SolBar’s Executive Chef in Calistoga manifests itself in a second-nature awareness about diner’s sensitivities. For example, the only gluten on the menu was in the rolls. All of the vegetable dishes — which amounted to an impressive four out of the seven dishes — were also vegan. Sharing all of a sudden becomes easier and freer.

Despite being humble bread and butter, the communal furikake-laced butter and parker house rolls were perhaps most emblematic of the sharing concept, because — as American cuisine champion James Beard reminds us — “good bread with fresh butter [is] the greatest of feasts!”

Community tables and family-style plating have become more popular in recent years, and we’re so glad to see both FEAST and Canon embracing that idea. Perhaps now more than ever, we need a little nudge to listen to people both like us and unlike us, reach across the table, and share with our neighbors. After all, it’s strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody” (Samuel Pepys).