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.
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.
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.
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.
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.