My friends, Mason's is the real deal. Forget the hype, forget the breathless heyamotoizing about how cool it all is, just eat the food and you will be entranced. It is one of the top five restaurants in Sac for sure. I'd put it neck and neck with the Waterboy, and I don't say that lightly.
There was some trouble with our reservations at the start, but they were accomodating and nice about it. We got seated at a rad table that was really comfortable and seemed semi-private due to a couple of walls that separated us from most of the diners. Our waiter was a local musician and I won't name him, I'll just call him CFC cuz he used to be in corpse fucks corpse. He was an excellent waiter and immediately put us at ease.
Unfortunately, Mason's doesn't have their current menu online (just an old one) so I'm going to have to go from memory about what we ordered, and maybe my fellow diners can comment if they have time. We started with the Japanese pumpkin salad. There were chunks of pumpkin battered and lightly fried under a mound of shaved Granny Smith Apple, in some kind of viniagrette that had a faint hint of cinnamon. It looked beautiful and the still-warm pumpkin contrasted nicely with the apple. We also got the chicken liver mousse terrine. It tasted rich and livery (which is a flavor I love) and melted in your mouth. They didn't give us much crostini to put it on, but the server was quick with the bread and it was great on that, too. Both of these appetizers were very generously sized. In fact, there was so much liver I wouldn't recommend ordering it for less than a party of four or I'm sure you would O.D. on it. Our third appetizer was a chorizo-stuffed squid, which was enticing as described but fell short in execution. The dish also came with clams and red and yellow peppers in a tasty broth, but it only came with like two large bites of the stuffed squid for thirteen bucks.
Mason's has a pretty long wine list, and they have a surprising amount of affordable bottles. I asked our server to recommend a good, inexpensive red and we decided to go with the Justin Paso Robles Syrah, which we liked. Smiller also got a glass of the Avalon Cabernet, which I liked even better. The only problem with the wine list was that they only had one sparkling wine by the glass, and it was eleven bucks (I think the wine list I linked is also not current). That's not acceptable!
Most of the entrees sounded enticing so it was hard to choose, but two people got the sturgeon, one got the short ribs, one got the rack of lamb, and I ordered the ciopinno. The short ribs were insanely good. They came in a brandy reduction accompanied by gorgonzola-walnut ravioli. I wish I had ordered those. Once again, the portion was very generous. You could just go order this and a glass of wine and be full. The sturgeon was also great. The flavor of the lamb was delicate and delicious. My ciopinno was not quite as good as the other entrees, mostly because of the damned chorizo that also kinda wrecked the stuffed squid. The chorizo was in hard, flavorless cubes and was not spicy at all, although it was advertised as such on the menu. Also, the clams tasted less than fresh. However, the white tuna and king prawns were good and the saffron broth was the best part, so I soaked most of that up with the bread. All in all, it was a mind-blowing meal and worth every penny. And it wasn't even as expensive as it probably sounds. I got all that for 45 bucks and that was with a generous tip for the server.
Later I'll post about the crazy Sac fashion parading through that place and all the stuff going on this weekend.