Monday, September 17, 2012

Restaurant Review: Mankas Tapas Bar & Steakhouse by Joyce Headley

At last, a dining experience like one you’d expect to encounter in Napa or Sonoma, located right in our own "backyard", Suisun Valley.

Formerly the Vintage Café, the newly remodeled restaurant and bar has re-opened under new management and a new name and offers contemporary style indoor dining as well as covered patio dining, complete with outdoor fireplace. Its full service bar features a selection of local and world class wines and specialty cocktails in addition to espresso drinks.

Mankas Tapas Bar and Steakhouse introduces patrons to its new executive chef, Peter Halikas, who has worked in some of San Francisco and Napa’s finest restaurants. With his European roots and wine country traditions, he has brought an innovative flair to the Suisun Valley, incorporating the use of locally grown produce in almost every creation.

My husband and I took the short drive from Vacaville and from the moment we stepped through the entrance were delighted to see the modern renovation, noting white linen clothed tables, modern décor in soft, warm, neutral hues and tasteful accents adorning the walls.

After looking over their tantalizing menu, we both knew it would be difficult to narrow our choices down. From the menu descriptions, everything sounded tempting….from the Seared Salmon (served with clams, chorizo in white wine) on the dinner portion of the menu, to the Spicy Grilled Prawns with Chorizo, from the tapas portion of the menu. Luckily, we had a great server, Lillian, who offered more detailed descriptions, thus guiding us through each course selection.

Off the specialty cocktail menu, we ordered their signature Mankas Mojito, a refreshing blend of Bacardi rum, fresh mint, lime and pomegranate juice which we enjoyed with our first course, their amazing Roasted Beet Salad, a blend of roasted yellow and red beets, orange segments, mache (shaved fennel), baby watercress and ricotta salada drizzled in olive oil. We both highly recommend trying it! Accompanying our salad was fresh baked warm bread.

For our main course, my husband opted for the Dry Rubbed Baby Back Ribs, which comes with two housemade BBQ sauces, and can be ordered in a full or half rack size. One sauce is red wine based, the other a sweeter Kansas City style variation. The tasty ribs were slow cooked to perfection (fall off the bone), therefore tender and moist.

I chose the Grilled Ahi, which was served with a creative blend of diced mango and black rice with a sweet soy glaze and garnished with fresh mixed greens. It too did not disappoint. We decided to share a side order of Sauteed Mushrooms which enhanced both our entrées.

Every flavorful dish was carefully prepared, well plated and attractive. We savored every bite, but wanted to save a little room for dessert.

Besides the amazing cheesecake, other options included their Chocolate Molten Cake, Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble and Chocolate Mousse Cake. We shared the Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, which was served in a hot cast iron skillet topped with Chantilly (similar, but lighter than whipped cream) as well as the Aprium Cobbler (apricot and plum) served with vanilla ice cream. Both were amazing…. not too sweet with a perfect crumbly crust.

Again, our compliments to Chef Peter and staff for bringing quality dining to Suisun Valley and for helping make our first visit a pleasurable and quite memorable one!

Mankas Tapas Bar and Steakhouse can be found at 2522 Mankas Corner Road in Fairfield and is open for lunch daily from 11 am until 3 pm and for dinner Tuesday - Thursday 5 pm until 9 pm and Friday - Sunday 5 pm until 10 pm. Happy Hour is from 5 – 7 pm Tuesday through Friday. For more information, call (707) 425-3207 or visit their website at

Reprinted by permission of:
S & J Advertising, Inc.
Monthly Grapevine / Breeze Monthly / Monthly Roundup / Your Town Monthly
ph: 707.448-6446 fax: 707.448.6943

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