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Mt. Shasta City/Dunsmuir report

PolarBear | Jul 12, 200504:25 PM

Spent Sun. night in Mt. Shasta City on our trip home from Oregon. Rolled into Lily's around 1 PM for lunch which turned out had to be off the brunch menu. There were a few sandwich selections besides the omelets and other breakfast fare so I chose the smoked salmon on rye with cream cheese and cucumbers. Lady PB had the shrimp and crab sand, OK but nothing special. On mine the toasted rye must have been stale and there wasn't enough cream cheese to cut the dryness, ended up removing the top piece of bread and about a half pound of alfalfa sprouts, which helped but the smoked salmon wasn't very good either, tasted like it had been sitting around a little too long. Wife's salad of mixed greens, homemade croutons, dried cranberries with wet and dry bleu cheese was very good as was the cup of Asian chicken soup I chose that again had some mystery spice we couldn't identify.

It hadn't even been a year since we stayed here so I was a little surprised at all the changes that have occurred.

Serge's on Chestnut St. (parallel to north Mt. Shasta Blvd) is no more, I noticed in the phone book that there was a new Thai place (Suda Thai) at that address, but a trip by to look at it found an empty building with a for sale sign out front.

Also checked out Tolo Grill (mideastern) that was new last summer, likewise empty building.

Trinity Cafe - closed Sundays

Jade Garden chinese, new faux chalet type building on south Mt. Shasta Blvd, electronic sign flashing "Buffet", hand drawn banners hung across front proclaiming "All you can eat $4.95". Went inside to get a menu from the nice elderly white lady and just couldn't get over how bad it smelled, like a cheap greasy spoon that makes Americanized junk for those that don't know any better. This may be related to the one in Redding, have no idea what their food is like.

Our options waning, weren't in the mood for beef, pasta and the huge servings at Piemont, or mex at Casa Ramos, and the specials we'd inquired about at Lily's... well, weren't very special. Our only other lead in town was a new place called Ken Zen (315 N. Mt. Shasta Blvd.) They bill themselves as Sushi and Exotic Cuisine. Menu out front lists sushi offerings and such items as Falafel, Hawaiian Lomi Lomi Salmon, Tandoori Chicken, a large steak, Chicken Teriyaki, and a few more I've forgotten. Alas, closed on Sunday.

At this point I called Svengthong's in Dunsmuir and made a res for 7 PM. We headed out a little early to check out two other places there, Cafe Madellena (couldn't find them in the phone book because I was looking under the "M" listings) and a new place called SaltH2O which is just down the block from Svengthong. They were closed Sunday also, but the menu looked worth trying, a good number of fish and shellfish dishes, appears to be a prix fix ($25) but must have apps available.

Looking down the steep little hill from SaltH2O we saw Cafe Madellena, strolled down and checked the menu, looked good but nothing grabbed us. Ended up talking to a group of Japanese folks leaving the place. One proclaimed the duck breast he had to be quite good. Another was disappointed with his pork chop (on the dry side), the ladies had been pleased with the seafood linguine and other dishes, but not particularly wowed.

Sengthong's began filling up shortly after we arrived, they had a young fellow playing jazz piano and young gal singing, both playing guitar occasionally. Nice background dinner music kind of reminiscent of Nora Jones.

Sengthong Phelps is the Vietnamese chef and wife of Don, host and server, who own and run the place with the help of their lovely daughter, Anna. Sengthong's family had a restaurant in Thailand but her dishes are a combination Vietnamese, Laotian, and Thai cuisines, specializing in the traditional food of northern Thailand.

We started with the Thai egg rolls with a tamarind dipping sauce, nice flavorful filling but thought the won ton was a little too thick, sauce was excellent. On recommendation from the owner we ordered the Thailand Steamed Fish (Escolar) with coconut curry over rice and fresh vegetables and the Laotian Hot Spiced Prawns and Scallops sauteed with fresh vegetables. Two large filets were cooked perfectly, very fresh tasting and with a spicy dipping sauce that was excellent. The prawns and scallop dish was fantastic, served over an Asian slaw that just exploded with alternating flavors and bits of heat. Reminded me of the sensations eating a banh mi but multiplied several times. If you had to choose one place to eat up in this neck of the woods make it this one.

A Ketel One martini, app, entrees and two glasses of Alpen Cellars Gewurztraminer came to $67 pre-tip.

I'm having a hard time understanding why Mt. Shasta City has such a turnover of dining establishments and is unable to keep the higher quality ones, e.g. Serge's closing, Trinity Cafe's chef leaving to open Cafe Madellena, while little Dunsmuir seems to be sustaining three nice places.

Prior to leaving Mon. am, stopped by The Skillet for the biscuits and gravy special, served with a nice spicy sausage patty, tasty potatos with onions and peppers, with a little cheddar cheese melted on top. Perfect start to the day. On the way out stopped to check another place I'd noticed (not listed in the phone book) called Pancho and Lefkowitz (closed Sun-Mon.). Out front is a big wagon on wheels that looks like it serves a variety of hot dogs and sands. There's also indoor seating, pictures of old blues guitar players on the walls, couple of pairs of snow skis in the corner. Looks just quirky enough to be worth trying.

Also should put in a plug for the Shasta Mkt that has a few interesting wine selections. Discovered a nice 2001 Curtis and David Zin from Mendocino, apparently bottled in Arcata.

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