Friday, February 1, 2019

New Owner and Lebanese Menu for Folie Douce

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2019 at 10:19 AM

Salhi carving shawarma during lunch. - PHOTO BY THAD GREENSON
  • Photo by Thad Greenson
  • Salhi carving shawarma during lunch.

Before you go into full panic, the artichoke cheesecake is still on the menu. Plenty else, however, has changed. On Nov. 26, 2017, Reda Salhi took over the kitchen at Arcata institution Folie Douce (though escrow has yet to close), shifting its menu toward Lebanese specialties like shawarma and kofta, while keeping a handful of the classic farm-to-table dishes that have earned it a following.

Chris Hollan, who started out as a baker and doing prep before taking over Folie Douce six years ago, said back in October, "I’ve been there 24 years … and I’d love to see the place continue to succeed.” With her daughter graduating college and a landscaping business on the side, she said she was "just ready for the next phase of my life.”


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Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Monday Night Polenta Club

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2019 at 12:15 PM

The ever-changing Monday night polenta special. - PHOTO BY ZACH LATHOURIS
  • Photo by Zach Lathouris
  • The ever-changing Monday night polenta special.

A wine cork's downhill roll from Brick & Fire is 2 Doors Down (1626 F. St., Eureka), its wine bar sibling, drawing its menu from the same tight kitchen. The dimensions of the wine list and dinner menu are reversed but that doesn't mean you're relegated to cheese plates and appetizers alone. On Monday nights, when so many places are closed, regulars cram in at the handful of tables for the $12 polenta special. You can't beat it but you can miss it. In this economy, go early.

Week to week the variations swing from coq au vin with gruyere polenta to shrimp and grits to Tuscan beef stew with pecorino polenta. On a recent evening the roasted square of polenta — browned and crisp at the edges with a creamy interior — was placed in broth from sautéed kale, tomato and white beans, beside a boudin blanc sausage. The pale link is made in house from a finely ground, peppery blend of chicken thigh, pork shoulder, bacon and wild chanterelle mushrooms. On a cold night, it's exactly the casual take on French and Italian, and it's downright restorative. Nod to your wine-flushed neighbors — you're practically sharing a table with them anyway — who are likely eating the same thing, and enjoy the smug satisfaction of belonging to the right kind of club.
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Sunday, January 20, 2019

Local Businesses Give Federal Employees a Break

Posted By on Sun, Jan 20, 2019 at 12:13 PM

Pizza at the Diver Bar & Grill, where furloughed federal workers get a break during the shutdown. - FILE
  • File
  • Pizza at the Diver Bar & Grill, where furloughed federal workers get a break during the shutdown.

Here we are on Day 30 of a partial federal government shutdown and those going without paychecks are feeling the pressure. The city of Eureka has set up a GoFundMe to help out local Coast Guard members and a handful of local restaurants and businesses are offering discounts to federal employees.

The Diver Bar & Grill is offering active Coasties with ID $4 pints and 50 percent off pizzas until the shutdown ends. Madrone Brick Fire Pizza and Taproom is offering one free meal to furloughed federal workers with ID. Six Rivers Brewery is giving federal employees 10 percent off their bills and some happy-hour pricing during the shutdown.

If the kids are getting antsy, Bounce-a-Palooza has announced via Facebook that federal employees with ID can bring them in for a free bounce. That ID will get you into the Eureka Theater for free, too. 
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Friday, January 11, 2019

Two Arcata Eateries Call it Quits, Cite Cannabis Downturn

Posted By on Fri, Jan 11, 2019 at 2:58 PM

The Simmer Down Caribbean Cafe truck parked by the Arcata Playhouse for an event. - FACEBOOK, COURTESY OF PATRICK GASKINS
  • Facebook, courtesy of Patrick Gaskins
  • The Simmer Down Caribbean Cafe truck parked by the Arcata Playhouse for an event.

The yellow Simmer Down Caribbean Cafe truck that was a fixture in the Pacific Outfitters parking lot has shut down. Owner Patrick Gaskins, who started the business in May of 2015, places the blame squarely on the budget-tightening effects of legalization.

"The last harvest season of 2016 right after Prop 64 passed, I slowed down," says Gaskins. "That harvest season I was down 45 percent or more. You could tell people were scared to spend money. ... It came back a little bit but basically last year I was operating at 3o percent lower than I planned." He says he knows his customer base and much of it is drawn from the cannabis industry, which is now faced with the cost of permitting, taxes and falling prices. Even after reducing his Arcata rent and utilities from $1,000 to $750 per month, Gaskins was still struggling and so tried staking out a spot in Garberville. Eventually the stream of customers dwindled there, too. 


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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Red Sauce for the Blues

Posted By on Sun, Jan 6, 2019 at 1:30 PM

Lasagna and eggplant parmigiana - PHOTO BY LYNN LEISHMAN
  • Photo by Lynn Leishman
  • Lasagna and eggplant parmigiana

Pity those whose otherwise broadening travels render them unable to enjoy American immigrant iterations of their ancestral cuisines. I think of my old classmate returning from a semester in Rome, heartbroken from an affair and recoiling from the messy red spaghetti and glass shakers of parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes that seemed to him newly inauthentic. It was loss upon loss, in my view, to break up with the very vinyl booths and candle-stuffed chianti bottles that might have given solace. By all means, let love break your heart but not your appetite.

An NCJ staffer’s recommendation sent us to Ferndale Pizza Co. (607 Main St., Ferndale) for an eggplant parmigiana ($13.70) that would make a fine emotional salve. A solid Italian American classic, the broad slices of eggplant, dipped in egg and homemade breadcrumbs with parmesan cheese, and fried until their flesh is soft and translucent, are stacked and topped with mozzarella and marinara sauce. That a block of lasagna is one of your side options solves the conundrum of which to order but not where you will nap later. The lasagna, too, carries old-school, pizza parlor cred, with thick, curly edged noodles, ricotta, an all-day-big-pot meat sauce and mozzarella under a ladle of still more red sauce. Though it bears the saucy, meaty markers of the dish’s evolution stateside, its mail-order DNA test kit would skew toward Southern Italy, with nary a spoonful of northern béchamel in sight. In those layers lies the comfort of tradition. And sauce. Lots of red sauce.
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Monday, December 31, 2018

Sandwich Craft

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2018 at 10:18 AM

The hot pastrami on ciabatta. - PHOTO BY ZACH LATHOURIS
  • Photo by Zach Lathouris
  • The hot pastrami on ciabatta.

After months and years of wishing, manifesting, prayer and vision boards failed to yield a deli within medium-heel walking distance of the Journal offices, I was about to move on to witchcraft. Then Delish on 5th (440 F St.) opened up in Old Town with its case full of cured meats and cheeses, for which I'm deeply grateful, as spellwork looks like a steep learning curve.

The setup — fancy kitchen shop on one side, fancy baked goods and sandwiches on the other — is a little more bespoke than I was going for but, in fairness, I did only skim The Secret. The hot pastrami sandwich ($11), for example, comes on a crusty, Dijon-swiped hunk of house baked ciabatta and grilled until the Swiss cheese bubbles down over the sides. The meat itself has some smoke and pepper to it, but its fall-apart texture and edge-browned fat is more akin to a roasted brisket than what you'd normally order on rye or in a Rueben. This is not in any way a bad thing. Likewise the handful of tart giardiniera, with its pickled carrots, cauliflower and green beans in place of the usual dill spear.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Fresh Takes at Fregoso's

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2018 at 3:33 PM

Octopus and aguachile at Fregoso's. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • Octopus and aguachile at Fregoso's.
So long, Savory. Hola, Fregosos Comida Mexicana (1504 G St., Arcata). In November, Savory's owners, who also own the Fregoso Market across from the Arcata North Coast Co-op, made the switch with a bright coat of paint, a fully Mexican menu and a new name in the same location across from Stars Hamburgers in Arcata's Northtown.
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Those in thrall to the queso fresco-stuffed chile relleno served in a bubbling molcajete ($12) will be happy to learn it's still on the menu, along with a side of homemade corn tortillas, whole pinto beans and saffron risotto. The Mason jars of house made horchata, with telltale sediment and deep vanilla and cinnamon flavor deserves an equal following ($3.50). Branch out for the octopus and aguachile ($14), a bright tumble of seeded cucumbers, yellow tomatoes, radish, red onion, fresh jalapeño and cilantro with thinly sliced octopus and shrimp in a chile lime marinade. It's possibly the only salad you can lord over your companions in a Mexican restaurant. The aguachile also comes with a handful of crispy wontons, which you have missed at Chinese restaurants, whether or not you can admit it.
A fresh, minty take on tres leches cake. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • A fresh, minty take on tres leches cake.
It also leaves room for two desserts worth your gastronomic real estate. The tres leches cake ($6) is a light sponge soaked in its namesakes — condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream — and updated with a fresh mint syrup. Its polar opposite is the thick, alabaster flan ($6). You may marvel equally at its intense caramel flavor and the richness of the custard, which offers your spoon more resistance than the typical flan. And if you do order both desserts for yourself, I'm happy to report your server won't blink. That is service.
A thick flan for caramel fans. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • A thick flan for caramel fans.
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Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Cafe is Done but Bless My Soul is Still Catering

Posted By on Thu, Dec 6, 2018 at 5:17 PM

Chef and owner Marie "Sweet Mama" Janisse. - FILE
  • File
  • Chef and owner Marie "Sweet Mama" Janisse.

If you've driven past Bless My Soul Cafe, you may have peeped the "for lease" sign in the window. The Creole restaurant, which was featured on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, closed its doors in September but is still catering and operating as a private party venue for now. Owner and chef Marie "Sweet Mama" Janisse says the combination of staffing issues and a drop in business she links to the hit the cannabis economy has taken led her and her daughter Desiree Janisse to shutter the dining room. 

"I had maybe 20, 25 people that were loyal customers but other than that," says Marie Janisse with a dry laugh. She says problems with staffing led to long workdays that were taking a physical toll. "It was me and my daughter carrying the whole weight of the restaurant cooking and serving, and it was killing us both."

Janisse says the Bless My Soul line of sauces are still in production and she has a private holiday party gig this weekend, so she's still working but has no plans to reopen. If you're jonesing for a chafing dish of her mac and cheese, the catering line is 362-1518.
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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Waffling in Rio Dell

Posted By on Wed, Nov 28, 2018 at 3:42 PM

The cream cheese and blackberry jammy Blackout. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The cream cheese and blackberry jammy Blackout.

Pull up to the Root 101 Nursery (770 Wildwood Ave., Rio Dell) and instead of soil you may smell waffles. Tucked in the corner of the shop is the Wildwood Waffles counter, behind which steams a trio of busy waffle irons.

Puffed, crisp and cakey, the waffles come straight off the cast iron and are folded around a bevy of fillings you may need time to consider. The Blackout ($5) is a good start, slathered with cream cheese and blackberry jam from Mad River Farms. A flurry of powdered sugar finishes it off but the finished product is not terribly sweet and exactly as melty as you hope. For another $2, toss on bacon strips and hit all the food groups.

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Saturday, November 24, 2018

Toni's is Fancy Now

Posted By on Sat, Nov 24, 2018 at 5:36 PM

The pastry case at Toni's is the glass shrine the pies, brownies and cupcakes deserve. - PHOTO BY JENNIFER FUMIKO CAHILL
  • Photo by Jennifer Fumiko Cahill
  • The pastry case at Toni's is the glass shrine the pies, brownies and cupcakes deserve.
Toni's has had work done. In the weeks you spent driving past its empty parking lot, afraid the closure of the one spot in Arcata that was always open might be forever, the truck stop swapped out its humble decor for glass, stainless steel and enough barn wood to make an actual barn.

On a pre-Thanksgiving visit to Toni's 24-hour Restaurant (1901 Heindon Road), there was a bit of a pile-up at the counter, where customers in line to order and pick up heavy pans of berry cobbler backed up into folks coming in the door. Credit cards are now accepted so if cash on hand was the only thing that was holding you back from the comically long list of shake flavors, beware.

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