Gonsea Restaurant Closed- Now Reopened

The Gonsea, that place on the way out of town at 2335 4th Street, has been closed by the County for health violations.

The Times-Standard’s account is HERE.

Personally, I wont miss the place.  We only ate there half a dozen times, were never impressed.  They were expensive and uninspired. I usually avoid restaurants that try to be both Chinese and Japanese at once. The Gonsea had a sign in front offering “Japanese sushi”.  Is there any other kind???  German sushi??? Polish sushi??

I also hated the name.  “Gonsea”,   it turns out  IS a legit Chinese name  meaning celebration or holiday.  But its a dumb name for a restaurant.  Invokes no food images or suggestions of deliciousness.  l say they might as well stay closed, although I hate to see folks losing their jobs.

May I suggest as alternatives the always -reliable Hunan in Henderson Center,  the Szechuan Village in Arcata or the good old China Buffet just down the street from the Gonsea in Eureka.  We’ve used the CB for parties.  Check out their catering menu! And if you have any other recommendations for Chinese, send them our way. We’d love to hear them.

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Zöe, we hardly knew you.

Zöe, the upscale cafe in Henderson Center, is up for sale after barely a year in business.

The reviews all along were mixed. I only ate there once but I thought they had the  food down pretty well. There were a lot of complaints about the service. The owner has posted on the Zöe Facebook page that the closure is due to illness Damn shame,  and we  wish all the  best to her.  Ironically,  both Zöe AND The Diver had wood-fire pizza ovens so HC will be supplied for good pizza no matter who takes over Zöe.

Let’s hope that happens soon.  There is already an unhealthy amount of empty storefront space in everyone’s favorite neighborhood.  The patrons of The Diver are using the former Robert’s (“Henderson Center Marketplace”) parking lot and thank God it’s open because parking can definitely be tight.  I hate to see any business close.  Let’s hope someone can make that space work.

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The Diver IS A Winner

That long-anticipated Diver Bar & Grill is open in Henderson Center, and doing well, from what we saw on Friday.  Contrary to what you would think from the name, it  is neither a dive bar nor a seafood restaurant. It’s a killer pizza place in a town that is probably over-supplied with pizza.  But The Diver rules.

We showed up at 1pm and the place was half-full. Service was cheery and prompt.  Besides pizza, they have a GOOD chowder,  along with salads and burgers,  They have mussels! which are not that common on Eureka menus.  But the pizza is the thing.  It’s wood-fired and light as a feather.  Putting that pizza oven in must have been a real project but worth the wait. I haven’t had pizza this good since we got takeout from Blaze in Chicago, back in October.

I had the bacon and spinach.  I took most of it home since I’d already had the chowder.  It heated up well.  I would order it again. My friend had the Buffalo chicken pizza.  She wanted to send it back because it was “burned”.  I explained that “wood-fired” is not going to look like Papa Murphy’s and after she tried it, she liked it.

Sean, the owner, circulated among the tables.  They have a good selection of beers and I had a decent iced tea.  The pizzas run about $14, the chowder was $6.  The dinner menu, only available after 5pm,  includes a rib eye for $24  and they have seafood items du jour.

The place was almost full again  when we left.  We will be back. The Diver is here to stay. When you go,  be sure to check out  the ceiling!

The Diver is at 2824 F Street,  phone is 798-6184.

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The VISTA is back, bigtime

Back in my parents’ day, the Vista Del Mar was the hottest spot in town. They actually had dance bands in the relatively small space. We’re talking about the ’50s, now.  The earliest memory I have is from about 10-15 years ago when it was painted garishly and went by the moniker,  Go Fish.  For about a year and a half  they made the best fish & chips on the planet.  Then suddenly they closed.  Then they opened  as The Barfly, which has to be the worst name for an eating/drinking establishment ever. Somewhere along the line the awful red paint went away and the building now looks like a restaurant again.

Since December, they’ve been holding comedy nights and serving food till late. They have no website, only a Facebook page. I hate when they do that.  But they’re there, and answering the phone at 443-3770, and open from 1130 to 2am.. We checked them out on Friday and found a clean and welcoming space with the affable owner, Kito Vorobik, handling the front of the house by himself with one other person in the kitchen.  There was only one occupied table when we arrived but by the time we finished the place was almost full. Seemed like a nice crowd and I’m sure their happy hour (4pm to 6pm M-F,  dollar off) is well-attended.

The food is good, no question. I had the clam chowder.  It took a little while, and when I inquired I was told that they were making it to order.  They were! The clam chowder ($6) is a nice bowl with croutons and two pieces of freshly baked bread!  It was excellent and definitely worth returning for.  We both had the fish & chips ($14),  which were also excellent. Four or five pieces of cod with a nice light batter, reheated well later. I’m not big on chips/fries but my friend liked them fine. Other menu items include:  wings $6,  potato skins $7, fish tacos $5 and a Cubano for $12. If you haven’t had a Cuban sandwich, it involves ham, roast pork, pickles and a sandwich press.  In Florida it’s the standard grab-and-go supermarket lunch and I will definitely be trying the Vista’s.

Go check out the Vista- a noble piece of Humboldt history.  Good food and you no longer have to shade your eyes as you approach.   Good place to drop in after Arts Alive!  You know where it is.

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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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Have We Discussed Raliberto’s?

Raliberto’s has been open in Eureka since September or so.  I had never heard of them before.  They changed  my life.  I was a steady customer at Tasty Tacos, the place across from the Cutten Inn, but no more. I feel terrible guilt when I drive  past them to go to Raliberto’s,  but I’ve hardened myself.

Raliberto’s is located in the little “log cabin”  building  at the corner of 4th and K, 1039 4th Street,  catty-corner from the Carter House   That building has housed at least six restaurants that I can recall. (Remember the “Generous Armenian”?   If that wasn’t the worst name for a restaurant ever to grace our fair city, I don’t know what was.)  They have no amenities, no drive-through, (the one in Crescent City has a drive-through) and only a tiny parking lot but everyone seems to get served.  It’s the kind of place that will charge you a dollar for carrots /jalapeños  but keep their base prices lower than anyone else.  For example, carnitas burritos (BIG one ) for $5.95,  fish tacos for A DOLLAR,  Ground beef tacos also A DOLLAR.  I love this place. I make three meals out of the carnitas burrito. 

If you haven’t checked out Raliberto’s, do so soon. You wont be sorry. 

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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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