Menu Please: What’s the Attraction at Madayne?

You would think a roadway as busy as Eureka Way would be lined with more and better restaurant options than having to order via a microphone and eat in your car, but most of the eateries are expressly designed to get you driving again as fast as possible. Maybe it has to do with the number of medical facilities and high schools on that street – necessary to be sure, but not really the sort of business zoning that attracts restaurants.

An oddly-shaped little plot at Eureka Way and 11th Street has been home to a series of sit-down restaurants. Back in the 1980s it housed a very good Italian restaurant, followed by (among others) the Donut Wheel, the ill-fated Avocado’s, Brick’s, and Uncle Mike’s Burgers. Uncle Mike’s had barely let the paint dry before Madayne took over, opening their second Redding location (the other on Hilltop Drive).

The dining room is relentlessly boxy, with small aqua wooden-topped tables and banquette seating along one wall and a lengthy counter on another, metal chairs to be moved around as needed. There’s a divided-off space in the center with picnic tables. When you walk in, order and pay at the counter (there is also another counter on the other side of the room which mainly serves coffee drinks), then take a seat and wait for your food to be delivered. While you wait, you can peruse the t-shirts, mugs, books, and coffee for sale.

On M. de Joie’s first visit, she ordered and then asked for a receipt but was abandoned by the cashier, so she never got it. She supposes the cashier had to confer with others in front of and behind the coffee bar who all seemed to be busily sending and receiving texts.

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Trinami sandwich, 1/2 $8.50, plus hummus & veggies, $1.00 with meal, $1.50 a la carte

Trinami is the name given to a sandwich built with smoked tri-tip, pastrami, Swiss cheese, and chipotle sauce on what the paper menu described as a baggett. The menu also said it came with fries, which were nowhere to be seen. While the sandwich was delicious, this was by far the smallest half-sandwich M. de Joie has encountered in a very long time. It was a good thing she ordered the hummus & veggies on the side since that $8.50 half sandwich was terribly lonely all by itself. It would have been nice to have a spoon or some other implement to scoop up the hummus after running out of baby carrots, but waitstaff was nowhere to be seen – maybe involved in a texting scheme to take over the world. Actually the hummus was very good scooped up with fingers.

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Black and blue salad, half $9.50

M. de Joie was surprised at the generous serving of salad, given the incident with the half-sandwich, and wonders if they got it right or she was given the wrong portion. No way to check now. At any rate, the salad was delicious, with thinly-sliced warmly grilled tri-tip and a generous amount of blue cheese.

It was while she was eating this salad that M. de Joie began musing about the wisdom of tipping. Now she is fully aware that the subject of tipping is a volatile minefield, but she’s going there anyway for the purpose of this story. Service/tipping is for, you know, service. You are seated in a restaurant, your waitperson brings you menus, takes your drink order, brings your drinks, takes your meal order, brings you your meal, checks back to see if you need anything, and in general makes sure you get everything you want/need. That fulfills the concept of service. Now at a place like Madayne, when you pay by card you are asked right away if you want to tip, and the options are spelled out on the automated screen (15%, 20%, etc.).

M. de Joie is a generous tipper in exchange for good service, knowing that waitstaff put up with a lot of abuse and are not paid well, but something stuck in her craw about this. How do you know what you want to tip for service when you haven’t had any service?

No one came to take Femme de Joie’s order: she gave it at the counter. No one checked to see if she had everything she needed. Someone did come around and plunk down the salad, but that was it. Since she’d had to get her own water, she could have easily gotten up to get her own salad too. Was delivery of a salad, a walk from the kitchen, worth a buck-fifty?

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NorCal breakfast burrito, $6.99

The old smears on the tables had been wiped away and replaced with fresh smears. A burrito filled with breakfast staples – egg, potato, bacon, ham, Cheddar – then lightly grilled was really very good, with all the fillings hot and cooked just right, though it did scream out for some salsa. Reluctant to have to get up and go disturb the waitstaff, M. de Joie decided to take a chance on a bottle on the table labeled “Madayne Sauce – a fresh take on ketchup.” She had noticed it on her first visit, mainly because the bottles on the table were half empty and left uncapped. Not feeling impetuous, she poured some onto her plate and tasted it before saucing the burrito. It was sweet ketchup with a hint of heat and a decided moldy flavor, and not the delicious type of mold like Brie.

M. de Joie also ordered coffee since they flog it tirelessly ($2.25). She won’t make that mistake again, though she was impressed at how a cup of coffee can be bitter and watery at the same time.

What to say about Madayne? The food is pretty good but overpriced. You’re hit up for a tip for service before you even sit down. Staff is friendly but elusive: you’re pretty much on your own. There doesn’t seem to be any one person in charge and the staff seems lackadaisical about taking care of basic details. Femme de Joie only visited the Eureka Way location and it may be different at the Hilltop Drive branch, but she’s not really interested in spending more money there to find out.

Madayne Grill & Espresso, 1970 Eureka Way, Redding, CA 96001. 530-245-9160. Also Madayne Eatery & Espresso, 930 Hilltop Drive, Redding, CA 96003. 530-224-1111. Open Monday through Friday, 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Saturday 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Sunday 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM (Hilltop branch closes at 7 PM on Sunday). Cash and cards. Parking lot. Vegetarian and vegan options. Beer and wine. Website at http://madayne.com/

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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29 Responses

  1. Beverly Stafford says:

    Your experience mirrors our one and only visit.  We placed an order to go, and it was 40 minutes before the bag of food arrived.  We guessed that there was only one person manning the kitchen.  As you said, wait staff was friendly – Bethel people seem always to be smiling – but the counter person appeared to be both cashier and food deliverer.  Now and again, another person appeared through the door leading to the kitchen.  There was no barista at the coffee counter, but since we had no idea it would take 40 minutes to fill our order, we didn’t bother to ask if someone could serve a beverage.  Madayne is yet another restaurant for which once was enough.

  2. Mark Twitchell says:

    My experience has been different and we’ve been there a couple of times and had to-go another couple of times.  The waitstaff has been attentive and friendly, the food good, and the portions generous (especially the half-salad).  My wife says that they have the best onion rings in town.

  3. Rob V. says:

    I was not impressed with the service and there seems to be no consistency in portion sizes. A person at a nearby table appeared to have the same thing I ordered and it would have been enough for my expectations. My serving was shall we say, “dinky”.

  4. Darlene M. says:

    I had heard about Madayne through a friend and agreed to meet that person there for coffee .

    I felt it expensive even compared to popular  franchise coffee venues.We agreed to meet there for coffee and catch up. But the music was exceptionally loud and head banging which I’m sure the 20 something waitstaff prefers. I actually developed a severe headache and was relieved when our ” talk ” was over.Perhaps it was just the time of day, and maybe we are not the demographic they are aiming for in their ” reach”.

    I am fairly open minded about music , but this will not be my first choice for a place to visit  with friends, and probably not to dine either .

  5. Diane says:

    Tomorrow morning I am supposed to meet a friend there for coffee.  Maybe I should take my own?

    Or make alternate plans.

  6. George T. Parker says:

    I’ve only been to the Hilltop location, and have had positive experiences. I’ve gone mainly because I’ve had an hour or so to kill, and I think it’s a nice place to write or get some work done on the internet and enjoy a hazelnut mocha. The Hilltop location, anyway, has had a nice, positive vibe when I’ve been there.

    I’ve only ordered food there once, the nachos, and like their variation. The beef and beans in regular nachos can sit heavy on my stomach these days. Madayne’s nachos were light, with grilled red and green bell peppers and cheese. They were perfect for a light fare.

    Indeed, parking can be an issue at the Hilltop location, since Madayne’s competes for a small parking lot with Chuck E. Cheese et. al. I met a friend there on a Saturday not long ago, and the closest parking he could find was at Best Buy. He had to walk over from there.

    So…for me, Madayne’s is a place to go hang out for coffee, and not necessarily a food destination.

  7. Richard Christoph says:

    Thanks for the candid review and comments. Though we are committed to patronizing Redding’s locally owned restaurants rather than chains, there are already so many here that provide excellent food, value, and service that we won’t be taking a risk on Madayne.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      What are some of your favorites, Richard?  We like Sweeties, Roquito’s, Wilda’s, Burrito Bandito, Kahunas, Deja Vu, Yuet Bistro, Golden Lantern, New China, Rose Garden, plus a couple of other Thai places, Country Waffles;  looking forward to trying the new Girando’s and Trendy’s.  We’ve had a couple of nice evenings at Clearies.  We gave up on C. R. Gibb and Jack’s.   I’ve probably missed a couple, unfortunately.

      • Richard Christoph says:

        Hi, Beverly,

        We like the  Thai Hut, Ma Der Sap House, Wilda’s, From the Hearth (Promenade), Rose Garden, Burrito Bandito, Priya, Yuet Bistro, Sweetie’s, La Cabana, Deja Vu, Maxwell’s Eatery, New China, Kahuna’s, Trendy’s, Peter Chu’s (airport). Took superb chicken and machaca burritos from Bandito up to my brother’s in Trinity County yesterday, and an old friend and I thoroughly enjoyed our usual 16 oz. medium rare top sirloins at Jack’s last Friday. Excellent food and service, and I’m sorry you’ve given up on them.

        Have not tried the new Gironda’s, but bike by there frequently and find the copious transient-produced trash on and around the railroad tracks behind the restaurant to be quite off-putting.  Terri and I will try Golden Lantern and Roquito’s based on your recommendation. Thanks.

         

         

         

         

      • Valerie Ing says:

        I have to butt in here and tell you that I absolutely am LOVING Trendy’s lately. They are trying so hard, and I love love love that they offer fresh fruit instead of potatoes with their breakfasts. Also loving Gironda’s now more than ever, and my other go-to places are Humble Joe’s for breakfast, and Racha Noodle. Love them so hard.

         

  8. Anita Lynn Brady says:

    I have made a vow to avoid spending any consumer dollars at Bethel-affiliated establishments. Sometimes it is hard to know if they are, so you just have to ask around or ask them directly.  Yes- they smile a lot.

    Wondering how many foreign BSSM students were on-site working…..er…volunteering (since it is not legal for them to work for money “or any goods” on their VISAs?

    Anita Brady

  9. Melissa says:

    Try to get coffee after 5.  It’s called Madayne grill and ESPRESSO.  I’m glad Starbucks is around the corner.

  10. Lori says:

    The Eureka Way building was also once home to a very good deli by the name of Perry’s I think.

    I’ve been to both Madayne locations.  Agree that the Hilltop Drive site has a better vibe to it.  The menu options are a little different at the “grill”.  I do not believe the quality of the “grill” food (burgers, etc.) justifies the price.  That said, the salads at both restaurants have been pretty good and even the half-order salads are a fairly large portion.

    I only tried the “home made” ketchup on the table tops of the Eureka Way establishment once because it did indeed taste moldy and spoiled.  Never again.

    Eureka Way breakfast items have been good both times I stopped for that but the staff do seem out of touch with the dining room.   I’m not sure they even know what is expected of them.  If they are Bethel students it does not bother me in the least.  They are friendly, if not attentive or energetic.

  11. Letty says:

    Wow. Are you m.? Because you should be more transparent about your identity. It’s really easy to be mean when you’re hiding behind a curtain. How about useful suggestions instead of blatant criticism? It’s ok, they’ll close and a pizza chain will move back in and almost zero dollars will funnel back into Redding. Good job m. Ran a restaurant lately?

     

    • Dear Letty,

      Let me assure you that Lori is not Femme de Joie (if that’s what you meant by “m”).

      Let me also assure you that Femme de Joie’s goal isn’t to be mean, but to give her honest, educated view of a restaurant after visiting it multiple times.

      She doesn’t “hide behind a curtain” but she is one of those rare and wonderful authentic restaurant reviewers who understands that the only way to get a true sense of a restaurant is to be anonymous. It’s crucial. Imagine how differently staff would behave if a writer entered a restaurant, identified himself as a reporter, flashed a press pass and told staff he would be writing about their establishment. You can bet that reporter would have a positively different experience at that establishment than a stranger who walked in off the street.

      Furthermore, it’s not her job to give suggestions (although a restaurant might learn from a review like today’s by doing things like not serving moldy ketchup, and to train waitstaff in the art of service). Likewise, her job isn’t to be a cheerleader for any particular restaurant, but to report truthfully about her experience, observations, and, of course, the food and service.

      Finally, it’s not necessary for any restaurant reviewer to have owned or operated a restaurant in order to write a review. What is needed is the ability to write well,  to possess keen observational skills, be knowledgeable about food and cooking and have a refined palate. All of those characteristics aptly describe Femme de Joie.

      As an aside, I hope you took note of the positive aspects of the restaurant mentioned by Femme de Joie, such as the salad, and the superior taste of the tiny sandwich.

      I hope that helps clear up some misconceptions about Femme de Joie and the art of restaurant reviewing.

      Thanks for reading, Letty.

       

  12. Doreen O. says:

    Letty, M cannot reveal her identity or people would give her special attention while she is evaluating a restaurant; then the evaluations would not be helpful to the rest of us.  My family has found M’s work to be quite accurate and only rarely discouraged us from trying a new restaurant—we just considered ourselves forewarned about certain establishments and were careful about what we ordered or made sure we didn’t go to certain places when we were in a hurry or when we wanted a lot of peace and quiet, for example.  It is a sad, sad day when people have such low standards that they can have lazy servers and moldy-tasting ketchup and expect folks to support their establishment merely because it is locally owned.  Locally owned should mean that the pride of being local would inspire better service and food!

     

  13. Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

    I think I was more fascinated with the civilized discussion following this article  than I was with this great restaurant review.  I do trust Femme de Joie’s reviews and description.   A bad review from this woman will not sink a restaurant; bad food and service will do that in no time.  I didn’t cherish being a waitress, a cook or dishwasher in a restaurant, but when I was I was the best I could be.   The first priority of that job was to engage with and make sure that the customer had a good dining experience.   All electronic gear should be left at the door when you take on this job.  You shouldn’t accept disrespect from customers; neither should you treat patrons with disrespect.  It’s a job.  Thanks for the great review Femme de Joie

  14. Kerr, David says:

    Mycotoxins are produced by moldy foods.  The most potent are aflotoxins, named after Aspergillus Flavus.  My 62 year old friend died of pancreatic cancer.  Could her cancer have been caused by eating improperly dried walnuts 5 years ago?  Commercial walnuts are assayed for aflotoxin, but home grown?  The molds on commercial cheese are species of fungus which do not produced mycotoxins.

  15. Ron C. says:

    Thanks Femme de Joie for another great article. I have not been to Madayne’s and plan not to after this write up. I live close by and wanted to try it. I will stick with the other great services and establishments downtown.

  16. Valerie Ing says:

    I would like to bring up one really important aspect of La Femme de Joie’s column that I believe people are overlooking here, and that is that it can serve as a great resource for an establishment to receive honest feedback that can (and should) be used to make improvements.  I once I went to a new establishment after it was reviewed here, and the owner was aware of the review, understood the criticisms (and the positive remarks as well) and was smart enough to use it as a tool to work from to make things better, and now that restaurant is one of my favorites in town. Perhaps when Madame has exhausted all of the eateries in town, she and Monsieur can go back to a few that she had criticisms for to see if they have taken her words to heart and improved.

  17. cody says:

    Thank you for the review.  I ate once, and got the food as take out, so cannot vouch for the service (or lack thereof).  I found the food to be somewhat average, not bad – but not something I would go out of my way to purchase again.  They were out of one ingredient featured in one of their more popular sandwiches, and offered a substitute that would have altered the meal considerably.  But, I guess that could happen at any restaurant.

    The Donut Wheel was wonderful!

    I totally agree that her identity should remain anonymous.  It would definitely affect the food and the service if restaurateurs knew who she was.  I have found the reviews to be very accurate, and free from bias,  even if I do not agree with all of them (items such as taste, portion sizes, etc.)

    Suggestion – keep driving west on Eureka Way, and try Anthony’s Mediterranean across from the High School.  I have only been a few times, but have found the food and the service to be very good.  It is much better than their establishments on the East side of town.

  18. Janet says:

    We like Anthony’s too. We like Madayne’s, but their pulled pork isn’t quite as good as Bricks was. I’m not usually a fan of ketchup, but I do like theirs; so does Ted, who normally likes ketchup. Moldy? Aargh, that’s terrible! Salads, wonderful and generous. I also like their lemon-raspberry smoothie. Miss Bricks; miss Avocados.

  19. Denise O says:

    Love the anonymous Femme reviews!!!  Keep them coming.

    The Hilltop version has lots of ambiance, alas after several times there, I can report they commit the cardinal coffee sin:  it’s not hot enough.

     

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