Family Meal, the exhilarating, prix-fixe family dinner served at Mulvaney’s B&L, is back after a 17-month hiatus caused by the pandemic.

The first family meal since the start of the pandemic took place on Monday evening by invitation only for a group of the restaurant’s most dedicated patrons. “It was so good to have everyone back,” said Patrick Mulvaney, owner of Mulvaney with his wife and partner, Bobbin Mulvaney.

The couple started the monthly event about 13 years ago as a way to bring different segments of Sacramento together over a meal, with people sitting next to strangers and passing trays of food around the table. “You would have a bus driver sitting next to a senator, who was sitting next to a bartender, who was sitting next to a farmer,” Mulvaney explained. “It was a Sacramento rally. One of the best parts was watching this random group of people come together.

The four-course meal usually featured simple, comfort food, and for a long time cost only $ 35 per person. It served as a “gateway” to the more refined restaurant at neighbor Mulvaney, said Bobbin Mulvaney. “We figured if you like family meals, you might try the restaurant.”

The family meal takes place on the third Monday evening of the month. The restaurant opens for reservations Tuesday mornings after the family meal, and dinner usually sells out within 20 minutes. The menu is not announced in advance; diners don’t know what they’re going to eat until they show up at the restaurant, where a chalk sandwich board on the sidewalk displays the menu. Monday’s dinner included Early Girl tomatoes with hand-pulled mozzarella, ricotta dumplings with Brentwood corn, roast pork over rice, and homemade Ding Dongs for dessert.

Gregarious Mulvaney presides over the meal as the ringleader and master of ceremonies. He usually gives a short speech describing the meal, teasing customers and thanking the local farmers who provided the ingredients.

In a nod to the pandemic, diners at Monday’s dinner were a bit more dispersed than in the past, with community tables set up on the courtyard and sidewalk as well as indoors. Food was always served on plates and passed around the table, family style.

Next month’s family meal will be on Monday July 26. The cost is still reasonable at $ 42 per person. To reserve, call the restaurant at (916) 441-6022. The Mulvaney B&L is at 1215 19e St.

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Cory E. Barnes

The author Cory E. Barnes

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