I had the opportunity to hang out with Jason Poole, the executive chef of Dawson’s last week, and learned that his restaurant is anything but an industry cliché. Located at 1209 L Street, Dawson’s is the Hyatt Regency’s in-house steakhouse. But don’t call it a “hotel restaurant.” Dawson’s stands on its own.
“We’re not a hotel restaurant. We’re better than that stigma,” Poole says. “Yes, we have rooms here, but we’re so much more.”
Unlike some hotel chains that implement uniform menus across all locations, Poole has free rein over 99 percent of everything that comes out of his kitchen. That translates into a delicious menu chock full of local items like SunFed Ranch grass fed beef from Sutter County and asparagus and other fresh veggies from the Delta.
With fresh local ingredients, Poole’s Chef de Cuisine Michael Grande has a wide variety of foods to work with, and he does so masterfully. The grass-fed beef bone marrow appetizer we sampled was luscious and buttery. We ordered the SunFed Ranch grass-fed flat iron steak and a California corn-fed flat iron from Brandt Beef for comparison. Both were delicious and cooked just to perfection, with sides of crisp asparagus as well as lobster mac-and-cheese. All these great flavors were delivered with incredible service (arguably the best I’ve had in Sacramento) courtesy of our awesome waiter, Ardy.
Beyond the great wait staff and cuisine, one particular source of pride to Poole is what used to be a cascading hotel fountain that’s now brimming with a variety of edibles like fragrant lemon thyme and ripening tomatoes. This is Poole’s vegetable garden, retrofitted by the hotel just for his use. Poole’s favorite plant is a hardy pepper plant that he likes to call, the “Charlie Brown pepper tree.”
“It’s the lone survivor of the garden’s first iteration,” Poole admits with a smile, touching the leaves of the plant. “It took some tweaks to get it right.”
To get the ingredients needed for Dawson’s beyond what his garden and the Charlie Brown tree provide, Poole says the best local foods are always just a phone call away.
“In Sacramento, it’s so easy, you just have to put in a request for whatever it is you want and it’s here,” Poole says.
Easy sourcing makes it even more fun for Poole to participate in the abundance of Sacramento Farm-to-Fork celebrations he enjoys, like BLT Week in July, Offal Day in August, Farm-to-Fork Festival in September and Baconfest in January. Poole says the events are great opportunities for him to showcase what Dawson’s has to offer Sacramento foodies.
“We’re out in the community,” Poole says. “We’re letting people know we’re way beyond just a hotel restaurant.”
BAR: 4:00pm – 10:00pm Monday – Friday
5:00pm – 10:00pm Saturday & Sunday
Happy Hour: Monday – Friday, 4:00pm – 6:00pm
DINING ROOM: 5:30pm – 10:00pm Daily