The Cutten Chalet Is Open! And Getting A Stop Light!

The former Cutten Inn has finally reopened, almost two years later than the owner originally projected. There’s no website but the parking lot is fuller every day. They’re open now for breakfast and lunch, eventually for dinners.

I’ve lived three blocks from the old Cutten Inn for 20 years now and have eaten there twice. Years ago I had a client who worked there and I dropped in to see how he was doing.  He fixed me the awfullest, greasiest breakfast I had ever had.  A couple of years later there was a period when they were trying to be a dinner house. I took someone there and the dinners were okay- I had a pepper steak.  But that didn’t last long. Everyone out here has been chomping at the bit for a chance to chomp down on a Chalet omelette.  Everyone but me, since I’m not into omelettes, which is why I’ve never visited the original Chalet. So this was all new to me.

We checked the Cutten Chalet out recently and showed up at 11am on  Friday. Place was about half-full. The decor was garish.  I can’t think of another word. Chandelier-like light fixtures and lace curtains.  Well, you can’t eat the decor. Service was swift and pleasant.

I had the corned beef hash ($10.95) which may have come from a can but was good anyway. They offered either “country  potatoes” for a dollar extra or hash browns. I always order “country potatoes” because you never know what you’re going to get. These were cubes of potato which had been deep-fried. The waitress told us they heated up well. They charge $3 for a small glass of juice but I guess that’s the going rate these days. I would give my meal a B+.  My friend had the Cobb salad, ($10.95) which was really interesting. To me a Cobb Salad is a pile of lettuce topped with a geometrical construction of chopped bacon or ham, egg, and blue cheese. This was tossed so that the toppings were mixed into the lettuce.  I think it’s a great idea. She took a lot of it home, but it was a huge salad.  I will definitely be back. They’re working on an outdoor seating area, which will be pleasant during the good weather.  If we ever have good weather again.

As I write this,  the construction work is continuing on the stoplight at Walnut and Fern that my neighbors and I petitioned for FIFTEEN YEARS AGO.  I hope it’s everything we had hoped for.  If not, you can always cut through the Murphy’s parking lot.  Good things take time.

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The Quest For Soup Dumplings- Szechuan Garden

You may recall that when I put out a call for info on soup dumping in Humboldt, one of our wonderful readers posted that we should check out the Szechuan Garden in Arcata, so we did.  The obsession with soup dumplings started lsat October where we were traveling in NYC and visited  the fabled Joe’s Shanghai in Flushing, home and ground zero  to the to the soup dumpling movement  in the US.

What is a soup dumpling? A little bit of heaven.  At Joe’s they’re BIG and it takes two or three bites to devour one.  They’re made by taking broth and refrigerating it till it’s more or less a gel, then constructing the dumpling , which looks kind of like a shu mai around  the broth with innumerable tiny folds in a circle.  If I had to make one you’d be waiting for years.

I’m not going to pretend that the Szechuan Gardens will put Joe’s out of business but they ARE soup dumplings and well worth the drive to Arcata.  They’re about half the size of the Joe’s version but very pleasantly flavored.  They don’t show up on the menu- they’re listed as “A6- Juicy Pork Dumplings (6) $6.95” .  So now you know.

The rest of the menu is pretty conventional.  I tried the chicken curry and didn’t  think  it had much  flavor.  I took the fried rice home and found that by dinner time it had developed a lot more flavor than at lunch. It happens. My friend, who is not an adventurous eater,  had the chicken teriyaki.  I didn’t try it.  I took home an order of the  Black Pepper Beef (($10.50) and I really liked it. Although it had a little black chili pepper next to it on the menu, I wouldn’t describe it as spicy.  Good flavor, though.

The restaurant is on that little spur of 18th Street  that veers off  left from the freeway ramp.  Parking is somewhat difficult but the good news is that you can drive behind the building and go around for a second shot. The menu is HERE. Give them a try.

And thanks, Glenn, for the tip!

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“China Live” Opening Soon in Chinatown

Need an excuse to dig yourself out of the mud and head south?  “China Live” , a kind of West Coast version of Eataly,  is opening soon at 644 Broadway. which is either Chinatown  or North Beach depending on who you ask. This will apparently  be a paradise for gourmets and gourmands, with every kind of food, cookware and kitchen gear imaginable, Chinese-style of course.

I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend.   For lodgings I would recommend the venerable  Royal Pacific, where we had good luck in November.

Read about it HERE.

And if anyone in Humboldt is making soup dumplings, please let me know. 

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BBQ Update And Tragedy In Eureka

Many of you are already aware that the wonderful Sammy’s BBQ and Catering has expanded from its original King Salmon venue  (1125  King Salmon,  tel 442-4227) to North Eureka, 1709 5th Street,  (used to be a pho place)  Tel 443-4227.) Yes, the phone numbers are only one digit apart. The new place has had some complaints about their service and their credit card policies  but until the rain stops and I can check it out for myself I’ll just pass the good news along. The new place is open 11am-7pm.  The old place-you’d better call.  Remember, never on Sunday.

Speaking of BBQ, I hope you all know that Southside Mike has been blessed by the Planning Department and has found his home around to the side of John’s Cigars in the Myrtle Avenue  shopping center.  Go check out his new rig!  Mike is normally there from 1pm to 5pm Wed-Sat but he’s had the flu, so keep your fingers crossed. His tri-tip is wonderful, but so is everything else.  Look sharp when you pass by or your view may be blocked by Jacob’s La Barca taco truck – a worthy alternative to BBQ if you’re not ravenous.

The TRAGEDY in our headline is that ROY’S CLUB IS CLOSING!! The oldest continuously operating restaurant in Eureka – older than I am, for God’s sake- is closing forever, at least according to a Facebook post.  I haven’t been able to get anyone at the restaurant to confirm this but  I suspect it’s true. Last summer I tried to book a party of 8 for dinner (family reunion) and was told that “the  chef” was going to be out for an operation  for a couple of weeks.  Skimpy staffing is always a danger sign. Now, the word is out that their last day will be Feb 18. Bet they’ll be sold out for Valentine’s Day!

I think its dreadful that a place like Roy’s is closing without a parade or fireworks  or something. I guess it’s too late to think that a local hero with $$$$ will step in to change this but we can always hope. The only bright spot in this is that the Bella Italia, down on 4th Street, is still doing great meals.  The linguini Pescadores is fantastic.  Now that Mazzotti’s has descended into ordinariness, this is where I go for my Italian fix.  Go check them out if you haven’t.

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EATING OUT: Brick, AA and Jack’s Revisited

One of the pleasures of having out-of -town guests is that you can get feedback on restaurants from people who haven’t been been there a thousand times.  We visited Brick & Fire on the Fourth of July and discovered you CAN get a seat without a reservation if you’re wiling to come in at an odd time, like 530. I had the Italian Mac’n’cheese, ended up taking most of it home. The chopped Caesar with fried egg couldn’t have been better. My friend had oysters and the duck confit. Another great meal at the Brick.

We also visited the AA Bar & Grill for the second time since they’re changed hands.  We are very protective of the AA and vigilant against any type of change. Last time everything was identical to the time -honored AA dinner. This time there were CHANGES!!  The salad was about half the size it used to be and the “house dressing’, a blend of ranch and blue cheese that tastes a lot better than it sounds, is no more.  Mr  Munson, the owner, has apparently  made these cutbacks- let’s hope he doesn’t have any more in mind.            

Mr Munson, you have a treasure here!  No more changes!!!

Finally , we had lunch at Jack’s Seafood  on July 2.   You recall all the fuss when Jack’s opened last August. If not, read about it HERE.  The space at the Fisherman’s Building had lain fallow for months.  Every local entrepreneur who expressed an interest in doing business in the space was deemed unqualified. Isn’t that interesting?  That left the field open for half -Councilman Chet Albin to plug his crony,  Jack Wu, into the process with lots of goodies from the City to help him get started. 

Anyway, Mr Wu’s subsidy (forgiveness of $4500 monthly rent) ran out recently and we were  curious to see what,  if any,  changes would be evident at Jack’s given the new necessity to pay rent. The only change obvious to the the public was that they took down their website for a few days but and, yes, some of the prices have increased, mostly for the higher ticket items.  The fried ‘shrooms went from $8 to $10.  Linguine with clams went from $18 to $20, saute´ed halibut from $20 to $24 and they’e added crab cakes for $14 as a regular item.  The whole menu is HERE.

Okay, here’s the good news:  The clam chowder has improved!  It’s not great, but it’s acceptable and not the weird thin effort that it was before. I could actually see getting a bowl of it for a relaxing lunch.  Not as good as Gill’s, not as good as the Waterfront’s but acceptable,  and you’ll be distracted by the setting anyway.

The bad news: the crab sandwich was meh.  There was an acceptable amount of crab, good crab,  but served on a roll of what tasted like a sweet form of ciabatta. It would have been SO much better on sourdough.  Jack’s has a problem with bread.  I was curioius to see if they’re still serving their fish sandwiches on toast , the kind of lapse we have come to expect from Jack’s, but they have now discovered grilled sourdough so that’s progress.

I’ll try them again- hate to give up on that location but next time may be the last. Think I’ll try the tacos.

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Sticker Shock at Loleta Cheese, Good Eats at Greene Lily, Southside Mike has a home on Myrtle Avenue

I visited Loleta Cheese over the weekend to buy a box of cheese which would have to be shipped. I’ve done this several times in the past and I guess I got spoiled by their generous free-shipping policy. Well, NO MORE!  To mail six cheeses, total value $33, I paid a $12.95 mailing charge PLUS $5 for “handling”.  I understand that they had to raise prices in view of their bankruptcy but how about phasing it in?  Or something.  Anyway,  35% is too much to pay for shipping in my book so I will be looking for other Humboldt-made  products to mail in the future. Jellies are too heavy and breakable, chocolate melts.  Ideas, anyone?

The Greene Lily at 307 2nd Street in Old Town has been garnering enthusiastic reviews since it opened last Fall and I feared it would be too crowded on opening day of the RCMF.  We found plenty of seating in the cheerful space and our breakfasts were excellent.  The chicken-fried steak ($12.95) is the star of the  show but the lady at the next table was enjoying their Cobb Salad, (also $12.95) which looked good. The biscuits are excellent and we shall be returning.  Nice place.

Finally, Southside Mike’s has found a home!!  After being available -sporadically- at the Myrtle Avenue center (think Myrtlewood Liquors and John’s Fine Cigars),  Mike Ross is now going to be grilling there EVERY THURSDAY, FRIDAY and SATURDAY from 10 to 5 but if you wait until after 4pm they run our of things. His awesome tri-tip san ($10) is huge and melts in your mouth.   They were out of the Smoked Mac’n’Cheese ($5) but I shall  return.   ‘Way to go, Mike!  The new website is under construction.

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