July 3 we started off on a two week 2,200 + mile road trip up to the Hamma Hamma River on the Hood's Canal area of Puget Sound with stops in Nevada City and Mt. Shasta. On the river at low tide spent three days gathering and devouring the best oysters I've ever tasted (they ship).
Hama Hama Co.
301 N. Webb Rd.
Lilliwaup, WA 98555
Karen Ragan, Mgr.
We were in Nevada City for our annual music fest and had only one night and a lunch free to dine out. Having been to all the usual suspects (Citronee, New Moon, Country Rose, Cirino's) and wanting to try something new I recalled a recent post or two from hounds about Kirby's Creekside. We've always avoided it in the past since long time friends in the area weren't impressed. I called the day before we left and they were able to accommodate us with a table for 12. Have to admit to being a little skeptical since they weren't booked solid for the holiday weekend.
The waitstaff was very friendly and efficient, we were seated in the dining room downstairs. If our group had been smaller (6 or so) we could have eaten on the deck that overlooks the good size stream below rushing over and around the boulders. Hard to beat this view.
There is a good selection of local wines as well as some from OR and WA. We started with a bottle of the house red but then went for the Bookwalter 2000 Melot from WA ($31). I'm not a big Merlot fan but we had to try one since a member of our party had purchased one as a gift for me while up north then left it in the glovebox of her winemaker friend's pickup. It was such a hit we went through several more.
Everyone enjoyed their meals immensely, I had Filet Mignon topped with roasted garlic and Brie compound butter served with a veal reduction sauce and dauphinoise potatoes. 24.95, it was cooked perfectly rare and the sauce rich and deeply flavored. Also got to taste:
Seafood Fettuccini with tomato cioppino style sauce 16.50
Oven roasted leg of lamb with creamy leek and honey thyme sauce served with dauphinoise potatoes.17.95
Can't recall what others in our party ordered, but choices included Sauteed Prawns Scampi (16.95), Pork Tenderloin rolled with a berry compote wrapped in bacon, served with the dauphinoise potates and raspberry port sauce (17.95) and New York Steak with a Cabernet demi-glaze.
There is also the option of the Chef's choice tasting menu 3-6 courses, 33, 46, 56, 66 respectively and half-glass servings of accompanying wines if desired.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves and wanted to meet the chef. Since the dinner hour was winding down at this point he was able to break free for a few minutes of conversation. We learned that Chef Frank Thompson took over about 3 months ago, having formerly run three of the restaurants in the del Coronado in San Diego. I'm sure the locals and us visitors alike will be returning to Kirby's.
Prior to leaving NC we visited Posh Nosh for lunch, the entry is through a narrow hallway past the kitchen down some steps into a courtyard with an 1800's mining country feel. There are 4-5 huge shade trees, one wall of corrugated metal, others of brick, plastic tables and chairs but quite comfortable. I had held a business lunch here last summer and was very pleased with the quality, service and price. This time was no exception, my wife opted for the Thai pasta (11.95) and I had the Reuben with kosher style corned beef (7.50).
On Monday we moved on up to Mt. Shasta and to one of our favorite places in the area for dinner, the Trinity Cafe.
For appetizers: Fried Rock Shrimp and Corn Cakes with spicy tartar sauce on garden greens, and Soy marinated Ahi Tuna Tartare with spicy lemon-ginger vinaigrette, avocado and sesame crackers (housemade) and drizzed with two sauces, a basil wasabi and a garlic aioli (both 9.00). The shrimp and corn "crabcakes" were very tasty but we both flipped over the Ahi, so many great flavors that worked so well with each other.
My wife went with the Cabernet Braised Lamb Shank (two actually), new potato, pearl onion and sweet pea saute with mint pesto (17) and I had the Seared Scallops with a sweetened Balsamic reduction sauce (19). We did our normal routine of sharing the dishes and agreed they were both outstanding. Trinity has a nice selection of wines available by the glass so I sampled the 2001 Luna Pinot Grigio and the 2001 Seghesio Sonoma County Zin (both 7.00).
622 N. Mt. Shasta Blvd
Mt. Shasta CA 96067
Our second night in town I had planned to visit a few places to check their menus and specials (Serge's, Lily's) before we decided on where to dine. Our first (and only) stop was Piemont (suggested by a local who made a point that we not confuse it with Piedmont). I ordered a martini at the bar while we looked over the menu, the gal bartending was chatting up their steaks as did the lady owner/hostess a few minutes later, and both carrying on about their homemade ravioli, asking if we'd like a sample. Before I knew it and even before the sample arrived my wife arranged for us to be seated. This was most unusual since she is of Italian/Swiss heritage and we virtually *never* go out for Italian food. I made a few disgruntled remarks to that effect but of course ended up eating my words along with the dinner that followed.
Dinners are served family style reminiscent of the Basque places down here in the central valley, first a large tureen of delicious soup (sort of a cross between pasta fazoul and minestrone) that we polished off. Then came the sample of ravioli, moist and flavorful meat filling and one of the best red sauces I've had other than at home, followed by simple salad with vinaigrette.
The other irony here was that we had decided earlier that we would eat light this evening, which we could have done if we'd stopped at this point like we often do at Basque places asking for the entree bagged to take home. The wife had ordered a half plate of the ravioli (an option for all of their pastas) and I chose the filet mignon, expecting the smallest of the meat selections. Her half order turned out to be the size of what most places considered a full dinner serving, my filets (yes, two) arrived with a side of ravioli and I had to ask if they had the order correct, it looked more like a huge rib eye that had separated in the middle. No, I was told, that's our filet. Two thick ones, I'm guessing about 10 oz each, one for each of us.... so much for a light meal. Looking at some of the other steak orders as they went by it became apparent this is their thing, thick hunks of meat that cover the plate.
This was by far the best bang for the buck I've seen in a long time, the filet(s) was 17.00 as I recall. Had a couple of glasses of the house Chianti (3.00), dessert is included, and the total bill was just over 40.00. The only negatives were that the bread was just OK and I had asked if the rare meats come out cool in the middle and opted for med-rare after hearing they do tend toward undercooking. Next time I would definitely order it rare.
1200 S. Mt. Shasta Blvd.
Prior to heading toward WA the next morning I went to The Skillet for breakfast - cajun style biscuits and gravy, just the right amount of heat from the sausage and well done biscuits. The rest of the menu looked very good as well, appears to be a locals hangout.
610 S. Mt. Shasta Blvd
On the return trip home back in Mt. Shasta we went to Lily's for lunch. Started with the Santa Fe Corn and Spinach Chowder, pureed and nicely seasoned and the Tomato and Brandy bisque (back to our sharing routine). The chowder was simply one of the best soups either of us has tasted, rich and creamy with wonderful hints of cilantro and southwestern flavors. The soups were included with our entrees, mine a Black and Blue Burger (cajun seasoning and topped with bleu cheese) and hers a huge Club Sandwich (both @ 10.00 as I recall). Both were quite good, however next time I would order the burger cooked medium and request a little extra bleu cheese.
We talked to one of the chef's about their dinner menu which has quite a few interesting items. Their specials revolve mostly around seafood, changing daily depending on what arrives fresh in the morning. I was unable to get a copy of their menu to take with me but was referred to their website (whose links to menus were not working last time I checked but they would probably fax a menu)
1013 S. Mt. Shasta Blvd
That evening we were back at Trinity Cafe and went with the Ahi Tuna appetizer once again and the Wine Steamed Manila Clams over linguini, toasted garlic, chili peppers, saffrom tomato broth (16) and Game Hen with Chimchurri (sp?) sauce (17). Since Lady PB isn't a clam fan I only received a taste of her Game Hen, but it was very moist and the Argentine sauce quite tasty. For the wines I went with the 2000 Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonay (7.50), 2000 Lava Cap Reserve Syrah (7.25) and 2000 Sobon Estate Syrah (8.25), all good but especially liked the Sobon. The linguini came with a very generous amount of clams and a good sauce, that I would have preferred to be a little more spicy.
I'll have to try Lily's shellfish linguine next time for comparison's sake.
In a nutshell, there's some nice dining options up in the gold country and Mt. Shasta. Would like to hear from other hounds on their experiences.
Dave in Fresno
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