by the Journal Review Team
It was an evening to make a true Humboldter proud - the rain dripped off and on as we went from bite to bite sampling the goodies known collectively as A Taste of Main Street.
This diverse offering of fine foods and toe-tapping music helps kick off the Redwood Coast Dixieland Jazz Festival weekend in grand style. A book of coupons and the map that comes with it are all you need. There is even a shuttle bus to get you to the restaurants that are a little farther out, though most are clustered in the Old Town Eureka area.
There was the usual bustle and good-natured complaining about the weather, but it simply made the music that much brighter (there were five bands this year) and the food more welcome.
We started with hors d'oeuvres: savory duck with orange sauce at the Hotel Carter where you could also buy a glass of wine, and sautéed mushrooms marsala at Ron's American Bistro. We admired the fine things at Ambiance Gallery while nibbling on We Cater's flaky spinachopita and "pinwheels."
At Pacific Flavors there were kitchen gadgets and accessories to look at while Flour Garden served a variety of focaccia - herbs, olives and marinara, cheese and jalapeño. If you had not nibbled enough to develop an appetite by this time, the Lost Coast Brewery offered sample tastings of four of its brews, and you could purchase the buffalo wings to go with the brew.
There was art, too. Los Bagels had pictures with a Mexican theme colored by local children to go with its mini knishes and cocktail bagels with cream cheese pesto. At the Humboldt Arts Council Gallery, Beverly's Catering from Ramone's Restaurant offered seafood mousse canapés, filling in with true civic spirit for another scheduled restaurant that cancelled.
The gallery's exhibit, "The Vision of Dolls," elicited lots of comment - a small taste of Humboldt County's rich, artistic production which is always lively and interesting.
To take the chill off the damp evening, you could duck into Cafe Waterfront to sample its clam chowder or have a hot cup of gourmet coffee at Humboldt Bay Coffee Co.
When we decided to get serious about dinner, this moveable feast offered chicken wings and mini-burgers at Wannabe's Sports Bar and Grill; prime rib, onion rings and garlic bread at O-H's Townhouse; mini tostadas at Chapala Cafe; jambalaya at Lazio's Seafood; and seafood cannelloni at Tomaso's Tomato Pies. None of the portions was more than a bite or two, but collectively they were enough to call for judicious restraint in order to leave room for dessert.
And the desserts that climaxed the evening were, as usual, a high point. We had coffee, biscotti and that special chocolate-dipped peanut cookie from Ramone's Bakery. Eureka Baking Co. served a decadent cream puff in a takeout bag (we took ours home for a midnight snack), and the Eureka Inn amazed everyone by serving real cherries jubilee. There was a wine bar set up as well to purchase another glass of wine or a glass of vintage port to top off the evening.
Of course, not everything was perfect - how do you serve 700 people with a nibble of food in less than three hours? So it wasn't always quite gourmet fare. But the restaurants deserve commendation for their efforts.
We don't know if it was the rain that kept the crowds down from past years, or the good organization of the restaurants that delivered the food smoothly and quickly, but we felt that there was little waiting in line except for dessert at the Eureka Inn - almost everybody saved that 'til last. Besides, there was music at several of the sites to keep your foot tapping if you had a short wait.
All in all, it was a wonderful evening, and we look forward to next year's Taste of Main Street.
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