Saturday, April 22, 2017

Back to the Shack

Posted By on Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 5:54 PM

Swell as hell. - SAM ARMANINO
  • Sam Armanino
  • Swell as hell.
Surfside Burger Shack (445 Fifth St., Eureka) looks more or less the same — like a colorful, well-used surfboard with a few dings in it. Walking in off the street, you might not guess it's under new ownership. After a deep inhale, you might just think the place is back on its game after a year or so in decline.

The new owners have stepped up Surfside's grassfed beef game with fresh rather than frozen meat but stuck to the basics of the shop. The Southwestern Swell ($8.95) comes with the usual avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo, along with a controlled burn of pepper jack cheese melted over grilled pickled jalapeño slices. Before you freak out because you can't see any avocado, attempt some surfer chill and look under the patty for a mashed schmear — the only reasonable solution to the dilemma of sliding slices. The heat is mellow enough that you can return to work without changing your shirt. For $2, add a split serving of slightly dark hand-cut fries and onion rings, which are as much of a draw as the burger. Fresh fries with skins on, after all, taste not just like fries, but potatoes rendered crisp. The hand-dipped onion rings are puffy, crunchy life preservers, just as you would hope. It's no wonder — look upon the serious fellow at the fryer, dropping in one heavy circle at a time and not looking away for a moment. You have our admiration, sir.

And finally, in a world gone mad, reason has prevailed in this one corner: There are at last milkshakes ($5), tall and thick enough to demand a little work for that first sip. Get thee behind me, secret Starbuck's menu of ridiculous frozen concoctions. I will have a milkshake. In chocolate, vanilla or strawberry.




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Friday, April 7, 2017

#Blessed

Posted By on Fri, Apr 7, 2017 at 11:24 AM

Cheeses, take the wheel. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Cheeses, take the wheel.
Humboldt's mac and cheese tour would also have to stop at Bless My Soul Café (29 W. Fifth St., Eureka), where the dish tauntingly appears on the appetizer menu ($7.95). Bring help. The overflowing cauldron of cheddar jack macaroni and cheese pushes the ratio of pasta to cheese to the very edge of reason. It's flecked with dill and dried basil, and spooning it onto your plate yields a cartoonish web of stretchy cheese.
Fresh fried okra. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Fresh fried okra.
Sips of clove-spiced sweet tea ($3.95) will help you recover enough to order the fried okra ($6.95). It's a tumble of whole, fresh okra rolled in cornmeal, fried and modestly sprinkled with the house version of Old Bay seasoning. A bite — take your time, they're hot — reveals the bright green skin and creamy interior that frozen okra cannot deliver. No need to ration the Creole aioli dip because they will bring more. Take that southern hospitality along with a refill on the sweet tea.
The humble catfish with mashed potatoes. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The humble catfish with mashed potatoes.
Less Instagram-friendly but perfectly done is the blackened catfish ($19.95). The humble filet has a surprisingly delicate exterior that's spicy, buttery and smoky. And if you're struggling with choosing sides, go for the full Sunday dinner experience and get the mashed potatoes with dilly cream gravy.


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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Date (and Bacon) Night

Posted By on Sat, Apr 1, 2017 at 1:26 PM

The Salty Sweet delivers. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The Salty Sweet delivers.
We initially missed the bar tucked away in the back of the Diver Bar and Grill (2830 F St., Eureka) and despite the name and the diving helmet logo, it's not a seafood place. But given our current socio-political climate, is this really the biggest shock you've had lately? Shake it off. Finally inside after seasons of passing its brown papered windows, we can crane our necks at the gleaming tin ceiling and the red glow of the wood fire oven in back. If it's chilly out, sit as close as you can and watch the two-person team slide pies in and out with long paddles.

Eat your vegetable fries. - JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Eat your vegetable fries.
Good news: I called your mom and she said the carrot and parsnip fries ($7) definitely count as a vegetable. They're sweet and nutty, and their light coating makes for a crispy exterior. More news: They will steam and go soggy in a takeout container, so spare no roasted garlic aioli and gobble them up hot.

If you feel the concrete floor and industrial metal chairs could use a little padding, just wait for your warm, pillowy pizza to arrive. A lot is happening with the Salty Sweet pizza ($14), the bubbly crust of which reaches for the edges of your dinner plate. On the savory end is pungent gorgonzola and blue cheese sauce under mozzarella, spinach, shallots and bacon jam. The sweet is delivered by a sprinkling of chopped Medjool dates. It's a balance of not just sweet and salty, but smoky and creamy. The crust is the real star, though, with a buttery sheen of olive oil and the wood fire char that gives it a crisp bite and a soft middle.






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