Bruce Dillon recommends Twelve 28 Kitchen. May 1 at 8:32 PM Consider this an “appreciation” of Twelve 28 Kitchen rather than a “review.” I probably wouldn’t know how to write a proper restaurant review, but I have visited Twelve 28 on roughly twenty-five occasions so I speak from some experience. This is where I want to eat when I visit Nevada County. I’ve dined at several Michelin-starred establishments in the past year and have enjoyed excellent cuisine around the world…but this is one of the two places where I long to return. Thank you, Chef Zach and staff. Simply put, Twelve 28 Kitchen consistently showcases inventive offerings using the freshest, locally-sourced ingredients with creatively paired California, Asian, Latin, and Mediterranean flairs and serves them with professionalism in an unpretentious and simple-yet-elegant space way off the beaten path. I have never walked away disappointed (or hungry) after dining at Twelve 28 Kitchen. Chef Zach changes the menu frequently, highlights seasonal ingredients, and keeps the number of offerings relatively small—a half dozen starters and salads, six to eight main courses, and about five desserts. And it makes perfect economic sense. The waste, otherwise, would put him out of business in no time. Most everything is made in-house, from the pickles and rolls for the burger to the ricotta to the variety of mouthwatering breads to the decadent desserts. I truly appreciate the prep that can take days to create a single component that goes into a thoughtfully-executed, multiple-component dish. Chef’s seasoning is spot-on. Food also comes out of the kitchen pretty quickly. No waiting for thirty minutes for the first forkful of food. I have enjoyed many memorable dishes over my visits. The Dirty Smashed Fries with Crispy Pork Belly and Kimchi is always a home run. The Stone Fruit Salad with Charred Onion and Frisée is also superb. I’ve seen it presented several different ways at different points through the summer, but it is always delicious. (I’ve even developed my own version for guests in my home.) The Braised Short Rib and Venezuelan Cachapas (corn cakes) with Ricotta and Green Tomato Chutney is also stellar. (Another that I’ve adapted for my own kitchen.) Zach’s deliciously moist fried chicken served with Laurie’s to-die-for buttermilk biscuits. Perfect. The Beet Salad (with beets at least three ways). The Korean Chicken Wings. The Banh Mi Sandwich from the early months. The Pan-Roasted Flat Iron Steak with Chimichurri. The Eloté entrée. Anything Chef Zach calls a “taco.” Laurie’s mouthwatering desserts, like the Chocolate Mousse Bombe or Lemon Tart. Exquisite! The best approach to ordering at Twelve 28? Just take five or six good friends and order the entire menu. Really. You can’t go wrong. It is truly an extraordinary feast for the eyes and palate. A few words about the service. Much attention is paid to detail. Whether it’s the personalized menu and hand-signed card for your special occasion or the commissioned stoneware under your food, they carefully consider everything. I have never had to wait for a table (reservations are advised and the new online reservation system is a welcomed addition) and I have never felt rushed. The volume levels allow for easy conversation over your meal. The service is friendly, professional, and not intrusive. To me, the prices are very fair for what you receive and the portions are appropriately-sized. The wine list—not one of the restaurant’s strengths in the early months—has improved markedly over the past nine months or so. All that said, Twelve 28 Kitchen is not for everyone. Family groups who ditch their poorly-behaved children at a separate table, the diner with numerous food sensitivities who hasn’t indicated as much before arriving at a small family-run restaurant, the patron who needs some specific cocktail or wine in order to enjoy the meal (there is no full bar), the guest who needs a menu that goes on for pages, the fickle diner who often cancels at the last minute—This may not be your happy place. This is not The Cheesecake Factory. But for the more adventurous diner who eats with all of his/her senses and is open to flavor affinities that might be a bit out of your accustomed pairings, this could become your new favorite place. Chef Zach, host Michael, pastry chef Laurie, servers Katherine and Ally, and the entire kitchen and serving crew give it their all five nights a week. And they give back to the community in meaningful ways. I appreciate all of that! So this is my shout-out. I hope you keep at it and prosper for many years to come. I can’t wait to see what you cook up next.
We celebrated my beloved's birthday and had a delightful and fun experience! The chef, Zach Sterner, is a genius! The presentation was truly a work of art. So colorful and delectable. My husband doesn't have dietary restrictions and I eat vegan and we were both so pleased with how the flavors danced on our pallets. Warm ambiance and live music fills the air with romance. The menu had his name on it and there was a card so sweetly signed by the staff. Nice touches to a perfect evening. We are excited and hungry to return to this gem in Penn Valley! We give it 5 stars and a heart. @twelve28kitchen
Jada G. Anaheim CA 3-22-19
This is hands down the finest restaurant in Nevada County, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. The menu is incredible, the staff is attentive, the food is presented beautifully and each bite tastes more amazing. Our family celebrated two birthdays there yesterday and we were stunned to walk in and find birthday cards for each member of our party celebrating their birthdays with our names written in calligraphy on the envelopes and the cards signed by every member of the staff. Then when they handed us our menus, they had printed our names and "Happy Birthday" on the tops of them.
You would never know you are in a strip mall in little old Penn Valley once you walk in the door of this establishment. You are transported to a city restaurant with amazing ambiance. Thank you, Twelve 28 Kitchen, for a fantastic dining experience!!
1/27/19 Went here for my birthday again. We absolutely love it here. It is our favorite restaurant. Food is always exciting. Even if I always order the crispy pork belly, the menu changes ensure it's a little different from the last time. You can trust both the technique and the palette here. We moved from bigger cities so we feel at home within the excitement and creativity.
The crispy pork belly emanated warmth and comfort while still honoring technique and detail. I enjoyed the flavors and textures. The charred broccoli was a nice compliment to everything we ordered. Again, thoughtful flavor and texture shine through. The tomato and pepper soup was great. I appreciate how it's not served scalding hot that one needs to wait to eat. The pepper adds another dimension to the tomato soup to stay interesting.
It's beautiful to see this place settle more into itself. The ambiance remains decidedly casual and clean. Conversations are actually possible. The other guests are also courteous and casual. You look around, people of all ages look happy. It's a little slice of an ideal world with amazing food.
There's a creative vision that manifests itself on every plate. Every bite is an opportunity to take part in that vision. Staff is always friendly and make excellent personal recommendations when indecision strikes (thanks Catherine!). The chefs father (and host) came out of the restaurant to personally see us off and say happy birthday. He's been friendly every time we've come here. I appreciate the extra mile they go to on ones birthday. They print the celebrants name at the top of the menu as a souvenir from dinner. They also sign a birthday card - super classy and thoughtful .
The only disappointing part about the evening was I literally did not have room for dessert. (Admittedly, a little fomo there). The lime tart and dessert wine will have to wait till next time. ~Isabel
"The best food in the area... and probably California! The ingredients are vibrant and fresh with flavor combinations to die for! If you haven't tried this place, it's a must!
A family run restaurant with friendly staff and amazing service will leave you feeling extra special.
The menu changes daily depending on the fresh ingredients bought at the local farmers market.. so you know every time you go in, there will be something new to try! Had the pork belly last night and it was hands down the best meal I've ever had!! Thanks for the lovely date night 1228 kitchen, we will be back soon!" -Annalise
"Ohhh, My God!!! I've cheated myself of pure, unadulterated and unsurpassed flavor and palette-spoiling pleasure by not eating at "Twelve 28 Kitchen" in Penn Valley before Saturday evening!!! <3
I had wanted to let the hype die down a bit before giving the place a try... *ERROR* My Mom wanted to go somewhere new for our monthly (ok, maybe it's weekly?) dinner out and had suggested several places, including 12/28. I opted to finally give Twelve 28 a shot, and she got all excited, as she'd actually had brunch there a month ago and loved it! So 12/28 it was... When you first get there, it's unassuming, has a subtle decor and very comfortable. The hostess greeted us and promptly seated us at a reserved table she had hand-tagged for us earlier when I called in for a reservation. Our server, Katherine (gosh, I hope I spelt her name correctly), appeared within a moment to welcome us and set a cordial tone for the meal with her friendliness, smile and genuine personality. She took our appetizer order (dirty Smashed Fries w/Crispy Braised Pork Bellies) and we chose a lovely Riesling from their wine list. Katherine stated she'd be back with both and take our main course order at that time. She returned w/wine in the iced chiller and served it with the ultimate professionalism (I was impressed). Then came the Smashed Fries w/Pork Bellies... for ALL that is Holy!!! For something so seemingly simple, the flavors of the seasoned potatoes peppered with an absolutely mouth-watering sriracha aioli on a bed of the freshest kimchi I've ever had (and I'm not usually a kimchi fan, at all) and to top off the dish... "The Pork Bellies" *slurP* They were tender as butter yet with a delicate crispiness that simply melted in my mouth as I devoured each delicious bite! I seriously could have eaten it all night... I love their menu... it's simple, doesn't inundate one with a million choices (I'm horrible at choosing 'one' dish when I'm hungry and everything looks & sounds so good) and Chef Zach changes it up occasionally to keep one's palette guessing while providing fresh, new choices for us to delight one's taste buds with. I could not make up my mind between a wonder sounding Ravioli entree' or, what my gut was truly grumbling for, the Braised Short-Ribs. I was praying my mother would order one, so I could then order the other and spoil myself by being able to try each... twas not to be, as she could not wait to try the Pork Tenderloin. I had to go with my gut, and ordered the Short-Ribs my stomach campaigned for. After the two of us took mere moments to polish off the ample offering of Smashed Fries & Pork Bellies, Katherine thoughtfully poured us some more wine to cleanse our palettes in anticipation of the main event... our entrees :) After some perfect timing for flavors to melt into memory and the wine to set the tone for the coming entree, in they came... stunningly plated, and each flavor's delectable aroma teasing the senses as mine eyes saw the glory of the feast that now lay before me! Simply Amazing!!! I genuinely cannot remember the last time my sense of vision, smell, and taste has been SO spoiled and delighted with such a visually stunning, beautifully prepared, and absolute explosion of flavors!!! My Short-Ribs were exceptionally tender, sliced perfectly and each flavor in the dish (from the sauce, peppers, everything) stood on it's own yet lent to the overall completeness of the dish! The Pork Tenderloin of my Mom's... well, while I love my pork cuts, I often shy away from it at times due to often experiencing thick cuts that often lend to an unfortunate dryness by too many preparers, despite their efforts at good flavor. NOT THE CASE with Chef Zach's Tenderloin!!! It was the most tender, moist and supple cut of pork I have honestly EVER tasted...hands-down! His seasoning again lent to the taste without creating it's own entity, the Pineapple chutney was sweet oasis in a sea of tastefulness, all on a delicious bed of a perfectly cooked risotto! Marvelous, is all I can say! I let Mom pick her dessert, as I knew there would be a chocolate dish to die for, which she is a true connoisseur of. I cannot (unfortunately) remember the name of the lovely mousse served, but it had "chocolate" in the name twice, so I knew she would approve. When Katherine served it and I watched Mom's first bite, well... I knew it was a true delight! I tased it, of course... *YUM* :) Thank You to all at "Twelve 28"... you've given Penn Valley an absolute GEM of fine (but not pretentious) dining to be enjoyed, treasured and returned to again & again!" -DJ Johnson
"We have never had a restaurant of this quality in Penn Valley! The ambiance is soothing and comfortable. The food is amazing! We had brunch. I ordered a cup of chili and a Pink Lady apple salad. My wife had peanut butter stuffed cinnamon French toast. Each dish had complex flavor that created a frenzy of tastes in my mouth. The chili was topped with crumbles of corn bread, chives, and sour cream. The salad mixed fresh greens with walnuts, Humbolt blue cheese, pickled onions, and apple. It was dressed with a light vinaigrette. The epic French toast was dusted with powdered sugar, and served with real maple syrup. Service was exceptional! You are helped and greeted by a team of attentive people. The owners are present and working hard to provide a flawless dining experience. You really need to try this exceptional dining spot! You will be delighted! We plan on being regulars! ~Steve R.
We haven't been so happy with every aspect of a meal in a very long time. Great service. Better food. Every bite was a tiny flavor explosion...like manna from heaven for my long neglected palette.
I came in with a group of 5. The minute we walked in, we we're treated like royalty. The service was amazing, the food incredible and a beautiful ambiance. On our drive home, everyone was in agreeance; this was the best dinner we have ever had. -Paul B
Void of any pretentiousness, Twelve 28 Kitchen can rival any Michelin star restaurant in any city including my hometown of New York. -Dave L.
"A definite gem for our local community. We've been waiting for Twelve 28 Kitchen to open ever since we got a tease of their cuisine at our local chefs contest in September. I think it says a lot that they won the contest before they were even open! I had the pork belly band mi sandwich. The pork belly was perfectly cooked in a delicious ginger soy glaze. The fresh cucumber carrot slaw and thinly sliced jalapeño created a perfect storm of flavors in my mouth. I ate my meal very slow as it was so good I didn't want to finish. My husband had the rock cod fish tacos. He said they were perfectly cooked and full of flavor. And even though we were so stuffed, we just had to try dessert. We chose to share a dessert. I don't recall the name, but it was a mousse like chocolate yumminess with two homemade chocolate brownie cookies and a dollop of vanilla whipped cream. TO DIE FOR. The service was impeccable. Our server, Bradley was attentive but not intrusive, funny, friendly, honest, and very helpful with suggestions. You can't help but just adore him! And Zack, the owner/chef came to our table to have a chat, as did his dad, who was manning the bar and seeing guests. I think the prices are on point for the quality and care that goes into presenting such amazing food. Two entrées, one dessert, two glasses of wine and three craft beers came to $80.00. We will definitely be regulars." ~Jennifer B