New Midtown Eatery…Can you say Garlic?

By Dawnie February 22, 2011

A late-night eatery celebrating the virtue and flavor of garlic is expected to open soon on J Street – replacing Plum Blossom, which mysteriously closed this week.

The Garlic Shack will offer a funky, low-key vibe, with an under-$15 menu starring garlic in everything from Caribbean rice bowls and burgers to dessert, said owner Ken Powers.

“It’s going to be a fun place to come eat some food, drink some beer,” he said. “Almost everything we have will have garlic in it.”

After 20 years in the food industry, Powers is opening his first restaurant on a prime Midtown corner at 18th and J streets. The Sierra foothills resident has mainly worked at restaurants in the foothills and the Sierra Nevada, such as the restaurant at Rainbow Lodge. He also owns a garden store in Lake of the Pines.

On Friday afternoon, Powers and a crew of workers were busy cleaning and preparing for a renovation. A garage door will be installed in front, and a server station will be removed from the dining room. The restaurant will be able to seat 50 to 60 people inside and about 20 outside, with an indoor-outdoor dining room when the garage door is open, he said.

The interior will be painted gold and different shades of red. Powers is hiring Sacramento artist Mikey Dwitt, who’s also a tattoo artist, to paint a giant garlic man in silver and white on an interior wall and possibly smaller “garlic dudes” in a bunch of other places.

“It’ll be really sweet,” Powers said.

The Garlic Shack’s menu is still being developed and will include vegetarian items, soups, salads, rice bowls, burgers, entrees, appetizers and dessert. Items include a Caribbean rice bowl featuring pork, yams and black beans; a portabello Reuben with mushrooms replacing meat and garlic cheesecake. The items will range from $3 to $14.

The Garlic Shack is expected to open in mid- to late March. The restaurant will be open daily. Hours will be 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday or Thursday. Hours on Friday and Saturday, and possibly Thursday, will be 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. or “whenever people stop coming in,” Powers said.

He hopes to create a “very homey” ambiance for diners with details like serving beer in tall cans, which he’s still exploring to see if he can make happen.

“We want to make you feel at home,” he said.

Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @SuzanneHurt.