When will I learn?

25 04 2008

I like food. A lot. Is it so difficult to try to put a plate on a table with food on it that’s edible?

Case in point:

After having a long drawn out doctor’s appointment we determined we’d earned a dinner out. Where to go on a Monday? Neither of us were really in the mood for Chinese or Thai. We’d taken a run out one of the boulevards to see a few places that were new…and not open on a Monday, any Monday. How disappointing. So…that left the “chain gang” and cuisines we weren’t quite up for. I had a yen going for Outback’s Annie Springs Chicken, and Hubster said they could usually do a steak well enough, so that would work for him. One thing about Outback, you sure won’t get a lot of frills on your plate. Meat, side. End of story. Naked. So, there I sit with daydreams of contrasting flavors, honey mustard, smoky bacon and cheese…mmm… One bite pretty much settled that fantasy. The chicken was hockey-puck dry; if there had been honey-mustard involved, it was brief and short-lived. The melty-goodness of a lava flow of cheese wasn’t there either. I should have sent it back, but one has to be able to attract the attention of a “server”; and the food delivery person isn’t your “server.” It’s not like they check with you AFTER you start eating. Hubster’s steak was wonderful. Send the poultry chef HOME. My overall experience this time rates a whopping 1-3/4 whisks, and I won’t hurry back.

Guess I’ve been a little busy…

13 04 2008

It’s not that I haven’t cooked…or eaten out… We’ve done both. It has been a busy couple of weeks though.

Cooking…how about spaghetti for 150? I was ever so disappointed that I had to use a PO for one place, and they didn’t have Italian sausage. Ground beef is ok, but…it’s just not “my” spaghetti that way. Still…it came out ok. Note to self…buy more fennel seed…it’s all used up! No…I didn’t invite 150 of my closest friends over for spaghetti…I made spaghetti, salad and bread for the school’s open house dinner. Then I served it and cleaned up. Yeah…guess I’ve been a little busy… *grin*

Dining out… We had a fabulous pizza at Woodstock’s in Chico. We really like their Mt. Lassen combo. It’s a good thing, we ate it for a couple of days whilst I was doing the school thing. We stopped there after the power shopping trip to pick up all the supplies. We’ll give Woodstock’s 2-1/2 whisks. We actually eat their crust all the way to the end! Friday night I had a medical appt. in Chico, so we dropped in to Sierra Nevada’s Brewpub. Normally we love it. This time, well…maybe it was the choice we made. We selected schnitzel with garlic mashed potatoes, butternut squash and sauteed brussels sprouts. Everything tasted incredibly salty to me. The service was fine…though service folks who know me better would have swooped the plate off the table and brought me something else and not let me say it was “ok.” I rarely make negative commentary to the service staff unless it’s just nasty to my tastes. I know they didn’t do it. Well…an exception is bringing me the wrong food…that I’ll speak to immediately. Sierra Nevada….currently at 3 whisks. It’s been better.

Tonight, it’s ribs…beefy ribs. I’m ready! The heat is ON…and I do mean on. It’s been in the upper 80’s and low 90’s. Go figure…this is only APRIL. Please…not so fast! Spring is looking like it’s going to be all of 2 weeks long and wham! Summer is upon us!

Back in Mt. Shasta city…

11 03 2008

Okay…I guess I’m just picky. Picky-picky-picky. Having said that, I’ll relate our most recent disappointments dining in the land of Majestic Mt. Shasta. Things haven’t gotten any better.

In November, we gave Lai Lai’s a shot… It’s a little Chinese restaurant that came recommended. The food was supposed to be good and fresh. Fresh, yes. Good, not necessarily. However, compared to Chen & Lee’s, it’s fabulous. Chen & Lee’s was in the neighborhood of our “hotel” (when did they start referring to “motels” as hotels??), and it smelled really good, so we decided to have dinner. Chen & Lee’s was a lot of things, but good wasn’t one of them. The won ton soup was almost good. The broth was a good start, though it was a faint green shade that was mildly disconcerting, at least it had a decent flavor. It was probably the best of all the food we had. If it hadn’t been for the dry, previously frozen peas and carrots, it wouldn’t have been too bad. Frozen peas and carrots we’d find in just about everything… We selected their Gourmet dinner for two…won ton soup, egg roll, fried prawns, BBQ pork, and fried chicken wings with the main dishes being some kind of vegetable dish and a chicken dish with steamed rice. I also ordered house fried rice. I was saving the steamed rice for Jasmine…our fur-baby. The appetizer part was awful. Hubster took one bite of the BBQ pork, and I knew I didn’t need to even taste it. The look on his face was more than enough to steer me clear. Of course, one look at my face as I bit into the prawn did the same for him. Oh awful purveyors of frozen foods they try to pawn off as fresh! Blech. The steamed rice arrived next, followed by a vegetable dish that was utterly taste-free. There were a few fresh snow peas mixed in with some previously frozen broccoli, those ubiquitous peas and carrots, and canned baby corn sauced with something the same shade of green as the soup, but with none of the flavor, and mixed with so much cornstarch it could have been used as glue. Blech!!! The chicken entree was almost ok, but not quite. The fried rice was gummy and gray…and it had the best flavor of anything. Go figure. Hey…I was hungry. But…I wasn’t taking any of that (save the steamed rice) for Jas…I didn’t want her to get sick. Even the fortune cookies were stale. The servers must’ve thought I was off my rocker…the only food we took with us was the steamed rice! Yeah, compared to Chen & Lee’s, Lai Lai’s is good. Chen & Lee’s – 1 Whisk; Lai Lai’s 2-1/2 Whisks.

The Black Bear Diner was closed…remodeling? It looked like it could be, there were workers there, but it wasn’t open. We opted to try The Dugout for breakfast. A perfectly serviceable breakfast it was too. Bacon and eggs is hard…no, it’s not…it’s easy to foul up. This was serviceable. Not fancy, not anything to write home about, just edible. Their lunch and sports bar menu however looked worthy of a stop sometime. The menu looks like standard Sports Bar fare, but it’s got variety and imagination. Breakfast at The Dugout, 2 Whisks…lunch or dinner, to be determined another trip.

We also had dinner at an American-Mexican restaurant north of town. I’ll have to get the name again. It was reasonably good…at least for Americanized Mexican. I had a fajita shrimp tostada (I wanted a shrimp fajita salad – this was as close as I could get), and Hubster had Carne Asada. Amazingly, it was done very nicely…actually medium rare, with nice cross-hatching which is almost impossible to achieve. Bravo to the chef! Everything had a decent flavor, but was a little lack-luster. We’ll go 2-3/4 whisks for this one.

Once again, our dining experiences weren’t outstanding. I think it must be time to go back to the Billy Goat’s Tavern…or whatever it is at the corner of Mt. Shasta Blvd. and Chestnut. We had a really good burger there…and the fries were fabulous. What was that place….

Applebee’s Arrives

17 02 2008

Long awaited…Applebee’s has arrived.  Now, you have to know a town is food-challenged when Applebee’s makes the front page of the local paper.

We waited a week to try to get through the door.  My first experience was waiting for a friend on opening day, and waiting was the order of the day.  They were relatively quick to change tables up, but as the dinner hour approached, it got dicey.  I didn’t mind…I wasn’t staying that time.  When we finally gave it a shot, a week later, things hadn’t improved a lot.  We were seated quickly enough, but were ping-ponged between servers as shift change occurred.  We placed our order and prepared to wait…we’d both ordered a beer, and the super-size arrived.  I was a little disappointed in getting the super size without a choice, but we ended up waiting so long for our food that I was plenty glad I had it!  Halfway through our wait, someone tried to serve us food we hadn’t ordered, not once, but twice.  It made us wonder if our food went to the wrong table.  I should have been so lucky.  Yes, I’m spoiled. Yes, I’m particular. Yes, the food really wasn’t good.  Hubster opted for the fish and chips…way, way too salty.  I had some kind of bistro steak sandwich.  It was supposed to be sliced; it was hacked.  Big chunks of meat didn’t fit the ciabatta the way thinly sliced meat would have, so the whole thing fell apart.  Next time I’ll try a salad and see if they can do any better.

Without regard to the forementioned, this will still be the only game in town for a relatively decent meal following chorus on Tuesday nights.  Hopefully, the bartender will be nice because we can both see cooling our parched throats with a brew and having a bite to eat afterward.  There hasn’t been much of anywhere to grab a bite after 9 p.m.

For now…Applebee’s gets 2-1/2 whisks.

Dining in Fort Bragg, CA

1 02 2008

The Mendocino coast is such a beautiful place, and it’s full of excellent dining opportunities. Our favorite B & B is The Rendezvous Inn. Kim Badenhop is a 3 star chef, trained in the Alsace region of France, and he loves what he does. Food is a treasure to him, and it shows! We’ve been before, and will visit again and again.

Our first stop coming into town, however, was the North Coast Brewery. We were on a bit of a much needed short vacation, and they had Hog Island oysters on the menu…score! We each settled in with a pint of our favorite brew…I had Scrimshaw, I don’ t remember what hubby had…something a little more stout. We each ordered half a dozen oysters and he got a cup of clam chowder, while I opted for the bowl. From here it gets a little squeamish… The chowder was wallpaper paste in consistency. Oh yum – blech! Hubby was already fighting an unhappy stomach, so the chowder was immediately over for him. That wasn’t too bad…one plate of oysters arrived almost immediately. I toyed with the soup, and struggled through about half of it…which was really too bad. I should have sent the swill back, and if I’d realized I was about to pay $16 for the two things neither of us could eat, I might just have done that. My oysters arrived a full 15 minutes after the first ones… Why would you do that? People sitting at the same table, ordering the exact same food kind of want to dine…together. This was one highly over-priced lunch, but it put a lot of things into perspective for us. We were out the door for about $70 including a modest tip, because the service was as lousy as the chowder…maybe we should have tried to drink more beer…between us we didn’t drink the equivalent of a pitcher. Oh well. The oysters were excellent, by the way!  2 whisks…solely because they HAD Pt. Reyes oysters.

Dinner that night…we checked with the Rendezvous, and Kim said they were booked pretty close for the evening, so we made reservations for the next night, and opted for sushi for our first night. We went to Off The Hook Sushi the last time we were in Fort Bragg…and really enjoyed the food. Was it a fluke (no pun…)? Nope. We got a great server. It was chilly and cold, so we opted for hot sake and miso soup to start out. Our sushi came and the servings were liberal and very fresh. It was fabulous. They did have one server who wasn’t on his game at all. The folks at the table next to us had to continually ask for their miso soup, and he delivered a plate to me I knew I hadn’t ordered. I was good…I kept my chopsticks out of it. However…tako salad could be something I’d try in the future! After the lunch experience, this was a wonderful, satisfying meal…and was a mere $10 more, before tip. Go figure.  3 1/2 whisks

Breakfast at the Rendezvous is always an experience. We awoke to the the aroma of smoky bacon and freshly brewed coffee. It was heavenly. We could hardly wait to get downstairs to see what awaited us. Kim tries to vary the menu for his guests, and if you’ve been a guest before, he’ll try to make sure you don’t get the same dish that you had before. We’d had a frittata and scrambled eggs the first time around, so this time we had quiche one day and eggs benedict the following day. When you come down to the breakfast room, there’s a table set for you, and fresh squeezed OJ awaits you. Kim comes out with your freshly baked muffins and a carafe of their house blend coffee. Shortly after you finish that first cup of coffee, your breakfast entree arrives. Yum. Oh yum… The quiche was marvelous, and with the muffins, we were stuffed for the rest of the morning and well up toward dinner time. Day 2 brought a different kind of muffin, and glorious eggs, perfectly poached and sauced with made-to-order hollandaise…truly sumptuous.

Dinner at the Rendezvous is always an experience that’s enjoyable. We had kind of decided to try one of their seasonal “tasting” menus, but they’d already run out the night we were there. No worries…I doubt there’s anything NOT good there! We shared a foie gras napoleon, stacked with mini green onion crepes. It was a little pricey, but ever so rich and luscious, and the Hubster had never had foie gras before. We highly recommend the escargot in puff pastry if you get the chance…bring a bib…you’ll be drooling.

After the breakfast of quiche the morning of this day, and anticipating eggs benedict the following morning, we dined a little lighter than we sometimes do… Our first time there we did the whole shebang…aperitifs, amuse bouche, appetizers, entree and dessert. We laughed that there was nothing better than death by Rendezvous! This time we were a little more careful… Hubster elected to try the monkfish…and found it utterly delightful. I opted for the crab cakes, which were quite good. I just liked the Hubster’s choice better. That happens now and then! LOL! We had the Meyer Lemon souffle for dessert, and pretty much floated upstairs on the wafting aromas.

I admit to being just a little disappointed. I had gotten my mouth all ready for the Mushroom tasting menu, or their rack of lamb. The rack of lamb was off the menu just at the moment, and the short ribs also sell out incredibly fast – because they’re heavenly. It’s hard to stay disappointed for long though. I can’t imagine something being “bad” there. I also can’t imagine not going there as often as I can…it’s so worth it!  Dining…4 2/3 whisks.  Just barely short of nirvana!

The value of the B & B is extremely fair as well. Most hotels in Fort Bragg charge around $100 per night +/- . Then, you go out for breakfast. To get a breakfast that gets into the same ballpark as what Kim serves will cost you a quick $30 (or more) at Eggheads, and you’ll wait awhile for your table. When I consider the outstanding food, the excellent service (yes, even at breakfast when he’s on his own), and then the comfort of the Inn itself…there’s just no comparison!

New Chinese in Chico…Meet “Flavor Falls”

23 12 2007

I’m usually loathe to try a new restaurant. I want it to be open for a good 3 months and work out the kinks before I visit. However, we recently read in the Chico News and Review that one of the Chinese Buffets had been revamped into a sit-down restaurant, AND it got nice reviews on the food. I’m afraid I may be more harsh than the reviewer from CN&R, but that isn’t to say the food wasn’t good.

Following our last Chinese dining disaster, as recounted earlier here, we figured anything would be reasonably decent.  It was 3 days before Christmas, still early in the evening for dining.  The shopping centers were still in gridlock. Trying to think of somewhere that we could get in without an hour’s wait, we thought of the place we’d read about.  At that point, neither of us could remember the name of the restaurant, but we knew where to go.  Housed in the former Pat & Larry’s Steakhouse building at 20th & Park, “Flavor Falls” presents as a standard Chinese restaurant, but one without a lot of clatter. Booths and tables fill the dining space, really nothing to remark about…art work on the walls, and since their greeting/cashier area is a bit secluded from the dining area, one could be there several minutes without being noticed. That having been said, everything appeared clean and sufficiently appointed.

The food…the food was really good, but not great, not fabulous, not beyond-compare as we’d been lead to believe by the CN&R article. We started off with an appetizer they called a “Bo-bo Platter” ($.950) – you know the kind, called po-po, or any number of other things. We ordered their Wor-Won-Ton Soup ($6.95) as it’s a perennial favorite of ours. From there we struggled…we love good food, and love to try new things so we tend to order WAY too much food in order to sample lots of tastes. Being sensibly restrained, I ordered one entree each for us: Cashew Nut Chicken and Salt and Pepper Ribs (we’ve seen these as Chiu Yim Ribs-it was a good guess). Now it didn’t arrive in that order, but it all got there…a little quick perhaps, but it wasn’t busy at all either. Here’s the run-down.

Wor Won-Ton Soup: They get bonus points for actually hanging around to stir and serve the first bowls! Bonus points again for the fact that there is actually SOUP in the bowl! Whoa! Another bonus point! The vegetables are crisp-tender and not overcooked! The broth is clear, yet very flavorful. There’s a bit of warm spice going on that’s very nice. The meats all have their own flavors, and that’s very nice. The only drawback is that the little won-ton dumplings are rather pasty where they’re closed. Not bad, but not pleasant either.
Bo-Bo Platter: This is a sharing-plate for two with butterflied deep fried shrimp, eggrolls, BBQ pork, beef skewers, paper-wrapped chicken and won-tons. The plate came nicely arranged, two by two on a bed of shredded iceberg lettuce (I’m not sure whether to give bonus points for trying to dress the plate or what here), with a small bowl of hot mustard on the plate and a bowl of sweet & sour on the side. Much to my surprise, the BBQ pork was warm, not hot, but just warmed enough to release it’s juices – very nice touch! The eggroll was pretty much unremarkable – neither good nor really bad. The shrimp were over-breaded, or too small for the amount of breading, and all the deep fried foods were cooked at too low a temperature, so were greasy – blech. Thankfully, the s & s sauce proved to be a flavorful, downright tasty savior for this dish. It could have had a bit more tang for me, but it had a honest-to-goodness flavor and wasn’t over-congealed. The paper-wrapped chicken was fragrant and tasty. I’m not sure that can be messed up. It aways seems to come out well. As I mentioned the BBQ pork was slightly warm, and had a lovely delicate flavor. The beef skewer was a 1/4 inch thick strip of steak (london broil perhaps) which had been marinated and likely baked. It was dry top and bottom, but very tender and very tasty. It would be worth getting an order to analyze the flavors.
Salt and Pepper Ribs: One of my favorite dishes at the local Chinese restaurant is Chiu Yim Ribs. It’s a little spicy, but not too bad if you don’t eat those dark red things (chiles). These are very thin pieces of pork (but I don’t know what cut. They’re seasoned and dredged in flour (rice?) and deep fried. They’re addictive! We were hoping this would be similar enough to what we’ve had before, and we hit it right on the money. The meat is cooked really fast so it keep the meat moist while the outside is crunchy. Gotta love it!
Cashew Nut Chicken: Now this was tasty! Little chunks of chicken, celery, onion, baby corn, carrot and zucchini combined and cooked so quickly that the vegetables don’t lose their crunch. We ate easily half of this without batting an eye.

About the time I got started on the Cashew Nut Chicken, I began to notice a similarity of flavors. Uh-oh. There’s an anchor seasoning, and so far, it’s in EVERYTHING. That’s not to say that was a totally bad thing, but it wasn’t 100% good either. If I wanted all the same flavor, I’d only order 1 dish. So, I started tasting back…yep. That nice warm spice in the soup was also in the sweet & sour sauce and it was in the chicken dish, and it was on the ribs as well. Doggone it. I like Chinese 5 spice as well as the next person, but #@*% ! That’s kind of like putting curry into every single dish! Like I said, it wasn’t necessarily bad, but it breaks down the adventure of the classic flavors of the cuisine. Oh well. It’s not my restaurant. Maybe they need to cook according to their audience rather than to their heritage. Lord, save me from the masses and feed me heritage ANY time!

At this point, Flavor Falls may be the best Chinese that Chico has to offer…and that’s kind of sad.  For me it rates a “Let’s come here again…sometime” which is right up ahead of “If we’re in the neighborhood…” but behind “Let’s come here again!”  The food is good enough to bring me back, but it isn’t so good I’d drive well out of my way over Happy Garden, and do not get me started on Peter Chu’s…that’s not the prettiest of stories!  However, if I had a serious yen for Wor Won-Ton soup…I’d definitely go out of my way to get theirs!

I think I’ll give them 2-1/2 Whisks.

We took a gamble on the casino…

22 12 2007

And celebrated my birthday there with friends. What a pleasant surprise! We were invited to join friends for the “Early Bird Special,”which was plenty of food, with nice selections. The Gold Country Casino Steakhouse offered Shrimp Primavera, a catch of the day special, Teriyaki grilled chicken or 8 oz Prime Rib, with choice of garden or Caesar salad and dessert for $16.95 per person. Although the choices were somewhat limited, the food was quite good and the service impeccable. Something Oroville is NOT famous for is service! Their menu can be found here: http://www.goldcountrycasino.com/dining/steakhouse/steakhouse.htm I’m anxious to go back and try some of their regular entrees. I had the prime rib, cut excellently, served exactly to order, however…the seasoning was a bit on the bland side. Salt might have helped some, but it was really difficult to get to the salt with all the various things on the table. They claim to be 4 star…not sure who is to have awarded their stars, but they do have a 4 star atmosphere…if you can overlook that damn flashing casino sign against the highway backdrop. They do get extra credit for having Valet parking…free…and nicely managed – at least as far as we could tell. Pitfalls? You have to walk through the casino to get to the stairs or elevators to get to the restaurant on the 6th floor. I guess you can’t have everything! Yes, I’d go back…and I’m withholding judgment until that time.

I should have made the soup…

3 12 2007

Greetings! What are you up to? The concerts went well…but we sure didn’t eat much for a few days! The timing was horrid! Last night we ate at Oroville’s The Depot. This is a place that can run hot and cold…just like the seasons, and in more than one way. Last night was a good night. We both ordered Prime Rib, but the cut we wanted was sold out, so we elected to give their Rib Eye a go. Both of us were beef hungry…I can’t remember the last red meat we ate. Including burgers, it’s been at least a couple of weeks. I’m serious! Remember Thanksgiving? *Ü* The steaks were nicely seasoned and cooked appropriately (rare, and med. rare). It was as good as it gets at The Depot. The management has truly lost sight of how to run a dinner house. 100% totally and completely. Nuff said about that.

Tonight, we were still tired, and I was in no mood to cook after a marathon early month shopping trip, so dining out was necessary. Argh. This is not a town one shops in town in during the first 4 days of any month. It’s rude and scary. I survived, and lived to drag the hubster out for Chinese.

We live in a culinary wasteland. We have one dinner house, and 2 casinos with dining. I can’t say what they have, because I still haven’t been to either of them. It’s my own thing, I guess. So, that’s 1 dinner house, 1, no 2 Chinese restaurants and 2 more sort of Asian fast food places, 1 Thai restaurant, 4 Mexican sit-down restaurants, 3 or 4 Taquerias, a couple BBQ joints, and a Soul Cooking place. There are 2 chain coffee shops, and 2 more coffee shops that are only open early in the day. The rest is fast food and pizza. Out of these, the food is mostly mediocre to moderately good. There’s nothing to write home about. We can’t lay claim to the best darn anything here.

Chinese… We have a place in town that is literally historical…that’s HIStorical not HYSterical. A family owned and operated restaurant that been here for ages. Tong Fong Low… another place that runs hot and cold. Sometimes it’s so darn good, and others, well… Tonight was an “eh, ok..” night. I don’t know if it’s because our sense of taste is off…(but then we really enjoyed that steak last night…) It seemed like everything tonight was overdosed with cornstarch and under-dosed with flavor. C’mon…Hot and sour soup is supposed to make you catch your breath at least a little…sweat a tiny bit…pucker pleasantly…nah. “Not so much,” as The Hubster just said. The Sesame Chicken was ok, again…short on flavor, but as nicely congealed as the intensely red, rubbery puddle of sweet and sour sauce. Yum. The Chiu Yim ribs, however, seemed ok, as did the House Special chow mein. Like I said, hot and cold.

In the meanwhile, I did do a powerful lot of shopping, so at least I can cook to my heart’s content. We have the makings for paella, pot roast and pork tamales. I’m so ready!

And what about Mt. Shasta city, anyway?

27 11 2007

What gives with dining opportunities in Mt. Shasta? Not only can I not find stellar recommendations for restaurants there, I can’t even endorse the few “cheers” I’ve found. It’s so sad…such a beautiful place, with so much traffic, but no really enchanting dining resources. I checked California Chowhounds, but they had tales of sadness from folks saying this place had closed, as well as that place. We wondered if perhaps the Chowhounds sharing their experiences had just been there on a bad day, or…well…some reason. Mt. Shasta city was our destination, we’d find “Good Eats” somewhere, surely

Our first trip found us in the area in early August. We stayed in Dunsmuir (about 6-10 miles south of Mt. Shasta) at the Best Choice Hotel. Let me assure you, this is a) not a hotel; b) not a good choice; and c) certainly NOT the best choice by any stretch of the imagination. It wasn’t cheap either. “Nuff said.” We only slept there, and we weren’t there to sleep!

Our first dining experience in this area turned out to be Penny’s Diner. When we’d inquired about an ice machine at our “hotel” the night before, the clerk had referred us to Penny’s Diner. We didn’t really understand it at the time, and just chalked it up to the “character” of our chosen lodging. When we rounded a bend and saw the highly reflective siding typical of diners, we were instantly enchanted. Hot diner coffee! Yummm! Penny’s Diner is a small diner built specifically to support the hotel used by railway workers. What a bonus for Dunsmuir! The diner is laid out so all the service area runs the length of the building and customers are immediately next to the action. You get caught up in the familiarity almost instantly. The food was good, and the servings well portioned. Although not exactly haute cuisine, it’s good, unpretentious food.

Our dinner experience wasn’t nearly as much fun. We began the evening by dropping in at Lily’s. Of all the dining establishments in Mt. Shasta (and there aren’t a lot), this had the most comments, mostly favorable. It took a few passes to figure out how to park here, and apparently the garden area breathed-out about that time as well. We were immediately seated with water, but the next 15 minutes were spent wondering where the disembodied argument was coming from. I left a small gratuity for the effort of seating us with water, and we were away.

Summer dining in Mt. Shasta can be a tricky business. Mt. Shasta city is the base of a recreation nirvana – Her Majesty, Mt. Shasta herself. There is nowhere one doesn’t see or feel the Queen, reigning over all. Yet, there are too few restaurants, and almost none to excite the palate.

Typical choices in Mt. Shasta are the fast-food chains…Subway, KFC, Taco Bell, Burger King, and it’s the home of The Black Bear Diner chain (which may very well be the best of the chain as well). You can also find a Round Table Pizza tucked in a shopping center, a Casa Ramos and a Strings on the main drag. The remaining places are, well, locally owned.

Our experiences haven’t been wholly bad, just not overly good. We dined at Strings the first evening and had a good, if pre-packaged, meal. A decent tasting meal at a reasonable price, so it was a fair deal. One camping trip found us dining at the Railroad Car Restaurant off I-5. They serve Th-Sat. only, and it’s worth the trip. The calamari picatta was as tender as warm butter, and whatever I had was good too! *Ü* We gave Lai-Lai’s a try the last time we were in town…I wouldn’t do that again. Our mutual impression of the food was that someone was trying to run a restaurant with the practice of buying mark-down food items on the principle of “go to the freezer, get the box.” The sauces were packaged at best. There was neither sweet nor sour in that acid-red gluey sauce. Everything had an underlying identical flavor…frozen. I don’t know why we were reluctant to go to The Black Bear…oh that’s right…we had a lousy experience in Redding. Either way, the food is good and mostly consistent.

There are a few other places to try in Mt. Shasta… The restaurant at the Best Western looks interesting. Vivify sounds interesting. There are also a few Mexican restaurants, and I think at least one more Chinese restaurant. There was another restaurant along the main road…Pomodoro, I believe. There’s an Italian sounding place just as you come into town at the southernmost off-ramp. I don’t recall the name right now. Another time we’ll talk about Dunsmuir…which is a whole “nuther” story!