Menu Please: Palo Cedro’s California Brewing Company is Worth the Drive

Anyone who has lived in the Redding area more than a few years knows that until quite recently live music was as rare as jackalopes. Oh, sure, if you were over 21 you might have gone into Ricardo’s to hear some band that got stuck here on their way to getting stuck in Lodi, or heard Norm Bailey and the Nervous Kats at a dance at the Moose Lodge, but that was about it. Concerts? Well, the Turtles played at the old Shasta High School auditorium (now U-Prep) in the mid-60s. There was also a concert by the 1910 Fruitgum Company and the Ohio Express – who can forget the immortal lyrics, “Yummy yummy yummy I’ve got love in my tummy”? The situation improved in the 1970s when the civic auditorium occasionally hosted a touring musician with an open date on their schedule like Jeff Beck or a young Dire Straits, but venues for local music just didn’t exist.

These are happier days for music fans. In the past couple of years numerous bars and restaurants have started featuring live music at least one night a week. (A News Cafe’s own Hal Johnson has taken on the arduous task of compiling listings weekly.) California Brewing Company is one such spot that opened up two years ago next to Holiday Market in Palo Cedro. A small dining room is augmented by a courtyard that serves as an auxiliary dining room & stage in good weather. In bad weather – well, squeeze together to make room for the musicians. When there’s no live music, you can watch a silent TV while listening to piped-in oldies.

Though primary focus is on their beer, CBC offers a simple menu that goes beyond salty bar snacks. The focus is on fresh, uncomplicated dishes that appeal whether you’re quaffing a brew or sipping an iced tea.

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California Club Wrap, $9.99, with side of deep-fried green beans, extra $2.00

You heard it here first: Femme de Joie predicts that crisp-fried green beans will replace sweet potato fries as the next ultra-popular restaurant appetizer. In the same way that deep-fried mushrooms have an almost meaty taste and texture, grassy green beans were transformed into vegetarian snacks that a carnivore would snarf up in a nanosecond. On a hot day, the salady California club wrap – lightly dressed chicken salad enfolded in a tomato flour tortilla (though colored tortillas never seem to actually taste like whatever they’re tinted with) was filling without being overwhelmingly heavy.

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Adult Stout Float, $4.99

Years ago, when a friend described the stout-and-ice-cream dessert he’d had at a Portland restaurant, M. de Joie privately thought that sounded really disgusting. Fortunately, tastes change. Dark and spicy house-made stout poured over chocolate ice cream, eaten while listening to the Trammps sing, “Disco inferno, burn that mother down,” is a pleasure M. de Joie doesn’t expect to ever find again in this life. Not for fans of super-sweet desserts, this was like carbonated dark bitter chocolate in a glass. Lovely.

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Baja California Burger, $10.99

Yes, $10.99 is a lot for a burger – unless it’s a 1/2 pound burger. Topped with fresh Jalapeno, pepper jack cheese, and sliced avocado, the Baja California was one of the better hamburgers Femme de Joie has tasted around the area – the burger still juicy despite needing a longer cooking time, with abundant and spicy toppings. More of those green beans on the side – they’re worth the $2.00 upgrade from salad or fries.

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Bacon, lettuce, & tomato sandwich with French fries, $6.99

This was a special deal sandwich, hence the lower price. The fillings were all fresh and tasty but it was a bit on the skimpy side. To be sure, you get what you pay for. The fries were quite good, non-greasy and very lightly salted.

Palo Cedro isn’t a long drive from downtown Redding and this little oasis is a pleasant reward for making the trip. The limited menu doesn’t overtax the small kitchen so service is fairly speedy. Service is friendly and helpful. Though there isn’t a children’s menu, all ages are welcome.

And now Femme de Joie gets on her soapbox, which she carries with her everywhere: Yes, there is frequent free live music. But there has been an influx of people coming into CBC, occupying chairs and tables, and ordering a glass of water. While that isn’t illegal, it takes up seating that would otherwise be used by customers who would happily pay good money to order food and drinks, which is what keeps the restaurant in business and keeps the live music coming. If this trend continues, it would certainly make sense for California Brewing Company to institute a cover charge or minimum purchase, and M. de Joie couldn’t blame them if they did. All this to say – if you want to listen to live music, don’t sponge off the good nature of a place like CBC.

California Brewing Company, 9348H Deschutes Road, Palo Cedro, CA 96073, in the Holiday Market shopping center. 530-222-2739. Open Wednesday and Thursday, 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Friday and Saturday, 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM, Sunday 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Cash and cards; no checks. Beer and wine. Vegetarian and vegan options. Parking lot. Website at California Brewing Company or follow them on Facebook.

Femme de Joie
Femme de Joie's first culinary masterpiece was at age 4, when she made the perfect fried bologna sandwich on white bread. Since then she has dined on horse Bourguignon in France, stir-fried eel in London, and mystery meat in her college cafeteria, but firmly draws the line at eating rattlesnake, peppermint and Hamburger Helper. She lives in Shasta County at her country estate, Butterscotch Acres West. She is nearly always hungry. Visit MenuPlease for more or send her an email at femmedejoiefood@yahoo.com.
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9 Responses

  1. EasternCounty says:

    Thanks, Femme de Joie, for yet another peek into an eating/drinking establishment that’s under the radar.  I know I”m naive, but are there really dolts who go to restaurants and order just water?  I’m flabbergasted.  Makes ya wanna crowd in and stand right behind them with your hands on their chair backs.  Better yet, have beer in hand and manage to spill a few drops on them.  Except as part of an order of tempura in a Japanese restaurant, I had never had deep fried green beans until I ordered them at The Habit.  They are addictive.

  2. A. Jacoby says:

    As usual . . . love your food reviews. But on top of that, thank you for the support of live music and covering a touchy subject . . . . the sponges that share our lives. SUPPORT LIVE MUSIC, FOLKS. don’t a dweeb, BUY A BEER (or whatever) AND TIP THE BAND!!

  3. California Brewing Company also has a great weekday lunch special: for $5, you get fries, a drink (non-alcoholic), and your choice of burger, hot dog, or chicken strips. I think there were even more options, but I’m drawing a blank on them now.

    Their deep fried mushrooms are also great. Listening to live music while munching deep fried mushrooms and sipping a dark beer is heaven on earth! I got so many mushrooms in my order that I couldn’t eat them all. I boxed up the leftovers, and re-purposed them into another dish, a la Chopped.

    California Brewing Company is really a great place!

  4. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    It should go without saying, but for some people, you have to say it anyway:  You’re not supporting the band you came to see or live music in general if you’re not supporting the venues that host them.  If you to a restaurant to see a musical act and you order water, your mama’s milk was weak.

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      “Your mama’s milk was weak.”

      Got coffee up my nose upon reading that. Thanks a lot, Steve.

  5. RM Walter says:

    You don’t remember Ray Charles at the Civic? or the Doobies? Just 2 of several big names brought in in the mid ’90s by John Anthony. The company went under for lack of local support.

  6. H.A. Silliman H.A. Silliman says:

    Thanks for this review. Looking forward to my next drive through Palo Cedro to stop!

     

  7. Tom Diskin says:

    A good review of a good eating establishment outside of Redding, and for us Oak Runnians, a bit closer to home!  Thanks for the peek at a food establishment well worth visiting.  My only disappointment is that you gave live entertainment the short end of the stick in your review.  There is FAR more live music in Redding than you indicated, and it is by no means a new phenomenon.  I am a relative newcomer to this area (juts celebrating 11 years and counting) and since I arrived I have supported live music around these parts.  I started with Oaksongs when they were doing live summer concert series at the Gray Pine Farm in Oak Run, now moved to Pilgrim Church in Redding with a much enlarged and stretched out concert series.  If you tune into KKRN 88.5 FM every Friday from 12noon to 1 pm, you will likely hear a wide array of local musicians, often performing live on the air.  KKRN has had the support of many of these musicians in several fund raising events that place our local musicians in the public view.  Intermountain Classics, also on KKRN, often hosts local classical and neo-classical (i.e., jazz, blues, as all current music styles have classical roots) musicians sharing the beauty of their artistic expression with all of us.  North State Symphony and Shasta Symphony pre-concert interviews and music samples are also offered on Intermountain Classics before every concert, as well as interviews with local musicians and composers.  And don’t forget the wonderful concerts and musical offerings at our local Shasta College and Simpson University!  We have plenty of local music here in a variety of local venues.  We are indeed fortunate that so many of our local businesses, restaurants, art galleries etc. go the extra mile to give these musicians the opportunity to perform.  Thanks for reading!

  8. MondoBlondo says:

    You’re missing the real good old days with Eric Burden and the Animals at Shasta College and before that Quicksilver Messenger Service and after that Strawberry Alarm Clock and Taj Mahal and not to forget the Music Machine at the Nova Gymnasium, Moby Grape at the Vets Hall and years later the Outlaws and The Charlie Daniels Band before the Civic upgraded their acoustics.  My ears are still ringing.  Oh, the food, well for that kind of dough I will continue to perfect my cooking skills at home, thank you.

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