Tuesday, January 28, 2014

It's Ladies Night Tonight at Mankas Steakhouse!

Grab the girls and join Mankas Steakhouse every Tuesday for Ladies Night! Enjoy great food and drink specials along with LIVE music from the Beer Brothers!!
For more information please visit our website at http://mankassteakhouse.com/
See you there!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Guide to Fine Dining - Tips for Elegant Eating

Dining out with that special someone? Taking co-workers or prospective clients out to a fine dining restaurant? Make sure you mind your manners and make a good impression with these tips.

  • Keep your Reservations: Fine dining restaurants usually require reservations. To be sure they can accommodate you and your party makes a reservation well in advance. If the amount of people change or the your unable to attend dinner during your reservation time, make sure you call and let them know. It's common curiosity to tell the restaurant that you no longer are going to be dining there and it's a a must if you frequent the restaurant or want to make future reservations.
  • Dress appropriately: call ahead to find out what dress requirements the restaurant has. Some finer dining establishments have very strict dress codes and may require you to wear certain attire to eat in the restaurant. Don't cause embarrassment by showing up unprepared; this will only cause you, your guests, and the restaurant great inconvenience.
  • Understanding the Menu: Often times at fine dining establishments, entrees can be in languages you're unable to read let alone say. While it may seem embarrassing to have to ask what a menu item is, don't assume you're the only one who has done it. Asking your server will help you choose something you will enjoy and something that will be worth the money you put towards it. If you've asked a few questions and still aren't sure what you want off the menu, ask your sever about the feature entrĂ©e or the chef's signature dish. Chances are the chef's signature dish is going to be great, so as long as it's something you think you can eat then try going with that.
  • Mind Your Manners: Manners a must at a fine dining restaurant. Be sure to practice chivalry when women are present, this means getting up when they excuse themselves, or pulling out their chairs when they return to the table. It's also important to practice when receiving your food. Place your napkin across your lap before you eat and when you do get your meal be polite and don't just dig in. Even if you're starving and haven't had anything to eat in days, don't dive into your meal the minute the server places it in front of you. It's customary and polite to wait for everyone in your party to receive your food before their meal.
  • Wine: Unless you're a very experienced wine connoisseur, chances are the wine list at a fine dining restaurant can be a little daunting. If you're not sure what wine to choose, ask your server for suggestions. Your server or another member of the restaurant staff should have a decent understanding of wine and should be able to guide you in the right direction. If the staff seems less than helpful, choose something that you are familiar with. It may be a good idea to read up on your wines before going dining out. This way you can have a few backup wines in mind.
  • Tipping: A tip is an essential part of your dining experience and should act as a reflection of the service you have had. The average amount for a tip is between 15 and 20 percent of your total bill. If you had superb service and want to show your server you appreciate them give him or her little extra. If your service was less than subpar it's okay to tip less, but unless your service was absolutely awful it's generally not a good idea to not tip at all. Make sure you tip the server based on his or her service. For example, if your meal takes too long or if there is some other problem that stems from the kitchen, don't punish your server if they have been
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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2009 Harvest Season at Stag's Leap Wine Cellars

Winemaker Nicki Pruss describes the 2009 growing season in the Napa Valley and a harvest that was steady and well-paced.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

60 Second Wine Expert: Red Wine Color

America's premier wine expert, Kevin Zraly explains what you tell about a red wine by looking at it's color.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mankas Corner Sees Changes

The Mankas Steakhouse underwent a $800,000 renovation last year and is a central part of the Mankas Corner area in the Suisun Valley. Having lunch at the restaurant recently were staff from Scott Lamp Company, including employee Martha Cunningham, center. (Brad Zweerink/Daily Republic)

SUISUN VALLEY — Christley Manka left the gold rush mines to run a general merchandise store in Suisun Valley that became a favorite place for 19th century farmers to come and play cards.

Solano County today has plans for Mankas Corner – the possessive apostrophe is missing from the maps – that go far beyond being a pioneer era-flavored meeting place. It sees the corner as becoming an outpost on the edge of world-famous Sonoma and Napa Wine Country.

Mankas Corner can be the “Sonoma Square” of Suisun Valley, according to the county’s 2011 Suisun Valley Strategic Plan. It can be the “cultural heart” of the rural valley, it said.

The corner at Mankas Corner and Clayton roads has a wine tasting room, steak restaurant, furniture store, antique store and, in a former gas station, the Clay Station art co-op. All of this is an embryonic form of what is described in the Suisun Valley Strategic Plan, a step toward realizing a grander vision. 

Vezer family helps shape Mankas Corner

Frank Vezer is a Mankas Corner mover-and-shaker. He bought several of the buildings there starting in 2006, including the ones that now house the wine tasting room and steak restaurant.

His family intended to move to the Napa Valley in 1989, but took the back roads to Interstate 80, saw Suisun Valley and decided to move there instead. Over time, Vezer wanted to sell the wine that came from the Vezer Family Vineyard. He noted the small commercial center of Mankas Corner was nearby.

“We saw what the potential was,” Vezer said.

Vezer on a recent day demonstrated how his Suisun Valley vision mixes the rustic Suisun Valley of old with some Wine Country elegance.

The 1860 stagecoach master’s house at Mankas Corner remains intact, with a plaque outside describing its history and towering pecan trees nearby that must date back to Manka’s day. Inside, the building looks like a wine tasting room that could be found at an upscale Napa winery.

The adjacent restaurant building received $800,000 in renovations about a year ago, Vezer said. It is now the Mankas Steakhouse, run by Peter Halikas and Tim Gill.

Halikas is a former owner and chef of N.V. Restaurant and Lounge in Napa and worked at such restaurants as Gary Danko in San Francisco and Brix, Dean and Deluca, and Domaine Chandon in Napa Valley. Gill worked at Brix, Meadowood, Auberge du Soleil and Domaine Chandon in Napa Valley.

Despite his Napa Valley culinary roots, Halikas in late February talked with enthusiasm about Suisun Valley. He talked about using local produce for the restaurant, ranging from chard to kale to radishes to beets to tomatoes to quinoa.

“You wouldn’t believe what’s being grown in the valley,” he said.

Plus, the restaurant features Suisun Valley wines.

Vezer, like Manka, worked in the mining industry and he headquarters his various business ventures at Mankas Corner. He described how he initially encountered some resistance to his ideas for Suisun Valley.

“There was a fear we wanted to turn this into Napa,” Vezer said.

Even Napa Valley itself has had similar tensions, with some saying that too much Wine Country sizzle turns the valley into a kind of Disneyland agricultural area. Recent Napa battles have centered over whether wineries should be allowed to have weddings and other social events. Some people want farming and agricultural preservation to be front-and-center.

Vezer said he wants to maintain the Suisun Valley’s flavor and history, to preserve its century-old Victorian homes and old water towers. He talked about how his family renovated a pioneer-era home on Suisun Valley Road and turned it into the Blue Victorian Winery.

He’s not looking to have monstrous Tuscany wineries that look out of place in the valley, he said.

He praised the county’s 2008 General Plan update and the vision it stakes out for promoting agritourism in Suisun Valley. 

The Mankas Corner of the future

Vezer looked at fields near his wine tasting room and restaurant and said this might someday be a good site for a hotel. He mentioned something along the lines of Benbow, a historic North Coast hotel along the Eel River.

Or perhaps one of his own Mankas Corner buildings could become a 16-room hotel or microbrewery or miniature version of the Vintage 1870 – now called the V Marketplace – in Yountville, Vezer said.

A limiting factor at Mankas Corner described in the county’s 2011 Suisun Valley plan is the lack of sewer service and the limited capacity of a water pipeline.

“If these infrastructure challenges are overcome, Mankas Corner would be an ideal location for additional economic activity,” the plan said.

Providing such infrastructure in rural places has long been a controversial issue in Solano County. Some have worried that having limited city-like water and sewer service could ultimately lead to large-scale, city-like development.

The Suisun Valley Strategic Plan says that Fairfield is one possible water source for valley commercial areas. For sewage, it recommends businesses use either septic systems or package sewage treatment plants, as opposed to extending a city system to a location such as Mankas Corner.

Making road improvements is another challenge. Solano County Engineering Manager Matt Tuggle said once-sleepy Mankas Corner has become a busy place on weekends, with parked cars lining the narrow streets at times.

Solano County’s Suisun Valley Strategic Plan calls for widening the roads at Mankas Corner to accommodate new shoulders and trees. Crosswalks and a decomposed gravel pedestrian pathway would be added. Money to get started is to come from the One Bay Area Priority Conservation Area grant program. 

Rolling with the changes

Mankas Corner as envisioned by the county is a place in transition. One business wants to make certain the new Mankas Corner has room for it.

John Crossley owns John’s Hauling. His business sells used furniture, clothes, tools and other items, everything from gum machines to old barber chairs. It does hauling and junk removal.

But John’s Hauling also goes by the name of Suisun Antiques and Collectibles. Crossley said the county wanted a name that’s a little more “wine-country friendly.”

He chose Mankas Corner for the location of his business about eight years ago – before the county came up with its valley agritourism vision – and leases a building. People were stealing items from his previous Fairfield location, he said.

“I did a job out on Mankas Corner and had forgotten how pretty it was,” Crossley said. “I thought this would be great, just to keep my equipment out there so it’s protected.”

As things turned out, the entire business ended up relocating.

Crossley talked about the rusty, old tractors that are decorative touches in front of his shop.

“These are the very tractors that tilled the land and worked the land out there,” Crossley said. “That’s part of the reason I came out here. I love it.”

He talked about the weather as a Mankas Corner strong point. About a mile away, the wind can be so strong, it will blow your hat off. Mankas Corner is sheltered and has only a breeze, he said.

“It’s just perfect out there all the time,” Crossley said. 

Manka’s influence still felt

Mankas Corner has long been a Suisun Valley commercial center. Christley Manka and others saw its potential in Solano County’s pioneer days. Such works as J.P. Munro Fraser’s 1879 “History of Solano County” and “A History of Suisun Lodge No 55, Free and Accepted Masons” tell his story.

Manka was born in Virginia and crossed the Great Plains to California in 1849. Hoping to strike it rich during the gold rush, he went to the mines near Yuba Creek.

In about 1852, he came to Solano County and ended up owning 100 acres in Suisun Valley. Agriculture had just begun to take off in the valley. Nearby cities Fairfield and Suisun City had a combined population of a few hundred people.

Manka became a partner with John W. Barton, a Vermont native who had started a general merchandise store in Suisun Valley. Barton’s Store became the Barton and Manka store.

In 1859, Barton moved to Fairfield, where he started Barton’s Hotel. Manka stayed with the Suisun Valley business at the rural crossroads that now bear his name. The area’s economic activity benefited from a stagecoach that stopped there twice a day.

Local farmers went to Mankas Corner to play cards at the tavern and store. They left their horses at a hitching rack, the late historian Ernest Wichels wrote.

Manka died in 1888. His business passed on to other hands, with boxing matches taking place there in the early 1900s. A post office came and went.

The hitching rack has been replaced by parking spaces, but Mankas Corner is still going strong. And Christley Manka’s name lives on at the valley commercial center he spent more than three decades helping to build.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or beberling@dailyrepublic.net. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Article Source: Daily Republic 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Why Has Dining Out Become Part Of Our Lifestyle And Culture?

There was a time when dining at a restaurant was considered a special treat that people did once in a while. However, today more people are dining out than ever before. In fact, dining out has become a part of our lifestyle and culture. Just why has dining out in such establishments as restaurants and pubs become so popular?
The trend of dining out more has a lot to do with our changing lifestyles. Today, more people are pressed for time and cooking a full course mean just takes too long, particularly for families. People are eating out because they are too tired and would rather have a quick meal. As well, they do not want to have to clean up after cooking and serving a meal. They also don't have to figure what meal to make and shop for the food and ingredients. Fortunately, many restaurants have followed the trend of families dining out and are starting to offer healthier meals. It gives people the chance to sit down, relax, and talk with each other while waiting for their meals.
Another reason why more people are dining out in restaurants is there are such a wide variety of menu choices ensuring everyone will find something they like. This is very beneficial if there are children as there is no need to worry about them getting upset because there is nothing they like on the menu. And, there will be meals that are not typically cooked at home which is a real treat. It can make you feel good as you just relax and enjoy being waited on throughout the whole meal.
You can choose restaurants that make your favorite traditional foods and you do not have to spend hours preparing it. Or you can go to restaurants that serve ethnic food which is a big treat as you can try new dishes. When you dine out, you can dress up and go to a fine dining restaurant, or go to a much more casual establishment. There are no dishes to clean up after your meal and no hot kitchens. If you have had a stressful day, there is nothing more relaxing than going out to a pub and just kicking back and letting your self unwind. Whether it's cozy, family, romantic, or casual, there is a restaurant to suit every mood and taste. Restaurants are a place to relax and forget about the daily grind of life. They are a place where you can chill and express your opinions and thoughts.
When you dine out, someone else cooks for you, serves you, clears the dishes, and washes them too. You get to experience delicious meals you can't get at home. It is a great way to spend time with the family. It is no wonder why dining has become part of out culture and lifestyle. So why not, get some friends, or your family, or your coworkers together, and go out to a great restaurant and enjoy some great food and fun.
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Friday, January 10, 2014

60 Second Wine Expert: Wine Service Ritual

America's premier wine expert, Kevin Zraly teaches Elizabeth Shepard about the wine service ritual in restaurants.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Start Your Meal Off Right with a Tasty Appetizer from Our Dinner Menu!

Come in to Mankas Steakhouse for dinner and try one of our delicious new appetizers! 

Ahi Tuna Tartare 
with Avocado, Chili Oil, Puffed Quinoa & Cilantro Oil
Roasted Pumpkin with Burrata Cheese
Il Fiorello Olive Oil, Pumpkin Seeds & Balsamic Vinegar
"Cassoulet" of Quail
with Pancetta & Lentils
Lobster Bisque
with Fresh Maine Lobster, Prawn Cracker & Chives

2522 Mankas Corner Road
Fairfield, CA 94534

Monday thru Thursday 11:00 am - 9:00 pm | Friday & Saturday 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
 Sunday 11:00 am - 9:00 pm | Ladies Night Every Tuesday

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Choosing Wine at a Restaurant - 4 Tips To Stay Calm Under the Pressure

It's been said that the thing people fear most is public speaking. That may be, but when at a restaurant and charged with the task of choosing a bottle of wine to go with dinner, many otherwise secure and confident people would rather run for the hills or at the very least hide under the table. Fear and mild panic sets in at the possibility of embarrassing themselves by making the wrong choice, especially if they are dining with their boss or other important contacts and they need to make the right impression.  This article covers four tips to help you make the right wine choice even if you know next to nothing about wine.

First, before sitting down at the table, prepare yourself mentally in advance and simply expect that the waiter will approach you with the wine list. Expect that you will be asked if you and your guests would like a bottle of wine to go with dinner and that you will be shown the wine list from which you will make your choice. Being ready like this will diffuse any surprise that you will be put on the spot to make such a selection.

Next, when the moment does arrive and your are handed the wine list, take a deep breath and just relax. Realize the task at hand is really quite trivial in the big scheme of things. You are merely choosing a bottle of wine, nothing more and nothing less. Realizing this can really help to calm your nerves and take the pressure off.

With the wine list in hand, your next step is to look it over quickly and determine how it is organized. Many times, restaurant wine lists are grouped by wine type, for example red and white. The list might also be organized by region or price. Either way, get a good feel so you can use this knowledge in the next and final step.

The fourth thing to do is to simply speak up. Doing this smoothly changes the wine selection task from a thing that you alone have to do to something that everyone participates in. Ask your guests what their preferences are, if any, in terms of the type of wine or a particular region they like. Use the wine list as a sort of script from which you can read. Also, ask the waiter to make recommendations from the list based on what entrees your guests will be ordering. Those suggestions along with everyone's preference will help you decide.

Choosing the right wine at a restaurant does not have to be a scary, daunting, or nerve-wracking task. Expect that you will be given this task, relax, scan the wine list, and ask questions. In the end, you probably can't go wrong with simply choosing one of the restaurant's house wines. The reputation of the restaurant is on the line so their house variety is most likely going to be good. If you cannot make a decision from among the other wines available, simply go with the house wine. Doing so makes your wine selection task very easy indeed.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

"May every day of the new year glow with good cheer and happiness for you and your family"