Good News, Bad News at Some Redding Restaurants

Two of Redding’s top restaurants have taken turns serving good news and bad.

The bad news last year was when Maritime quit serving lunch.

The good news was Maritime made some drastic menu changes, including the addition of what I think might be Redding’s best hamburgers to the mix. (Maritime used to have a dedicated Wednesday hamburger night, but it turns out hamburgers are on the bar menu every day, so patrons can order hamburgers any night.)

Good news came when Rivers – an upscale beautiful restaurant – opened after nearly Biblical disasters to its construction project. Just last weekend I attended a memorial service at Rivers and was impressed at the eclectic and delicious appetizer selection. It reminded me that Rivers was a dining option.

Then came this week’s bad news, via an email from Rivers with the subject line: New hours and opportunities at Rivers.

The email message reported that Friday is Rivers’ last day when it will serve lunch, which I suppose is another way of saying Redding diners will soon have more opportunities to each lunch elsewhere.

Come Monday Rivers will only be open 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, and Saturday 5 to 9 p.m.

The good news this schedule change leaves more hours available for Rivers to host weddings and other large functions at its beautiful space that overlooks the Sacramento River.

Here’s the email announcement: (Click here to visit Rivers’ website for more information.)


So how about some good news? Coming right up.

Maritime Seafood & Grill owners Unni and Morgan Song are proud to report that their Carmichael restaurant, Ambience, was featured as the No. 1 restaurant by the Sacramento Bee’s restaurant critic, Blair Anthony Robertson . (Click here to read the full article.)

Here’s what Robertson said about Ambience, a place Robertson named as his favorite fine dining cuisine:

“Ambience (6440 Fair Oaks Blvd., Carmichael). I didn’t “discover” chef Morgan Song, but count me among his biggest fans. For decades a stalwart of the San Francisco fine dining scene, Song brought his skill, creativity and palate to an out-of-the-way location in Carmichael.

With a style based on nouvelle French cuisine, Song is the most artistic, eclectic and skilled chef I have encountered in our area. Each meal is an adventure, a pleasure, a showcase.

I have returned to Ambience ‘off duty’ more than any other restaurant. Song and sous chef Olga Ponce handle the basics like steak and chicken and fish with great flourishes. Beyond that, I have enjoyed a head-spinning assortment of perfectly prepared dishes not often found on local menus: squab, quail, pheasant, elk, rabbit and, to elaborate for a moment, seared wild boar arranged in a line on a long rectangular plate, each medallion atop a row of scalloped potatoes, the boar capped with burgundy poached pears and a balsamic glaze.

Vegetarians are welcome, too. Just call ahead or make a note via, and the kitchen will make you something special.”

I agree with Robertson’s assessment, which is why I wince when I see empty tables at Maritime Seafood & Grill. We need to support good restaurants as much as possible, because once a restaurant closes, it’s gone forever.

But wait, the Songs have more good news from the Sacramento Bee in which the restaurant was recognized as the “Best Overall” by the online restaurant review site, Click here to read it.

Speaking of good restaurants, you can read MenuPlease her on for spot-on reviews of local eating establishments.

But I continue to sing the praises of the Thai Bistro on Yuba Street in Redding for its consistently delicious and eclectic food. While Maritime’s incredibly gifted Morgan Song must divide his talent between more than one restaurant, you’ll find Thai Bistro’s owner and chef Naj Phutsangdeeis in his restaurant kitchen seven days a week. His sauces are absolutely out of this world. He’s really an unsung culinary wonder. If I had to pick one meal to order it would be his rack of lamb.

That’s all the restaurant news I have today. Please do weigh in with your restaurant observations and opinions.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

6 Responses

  1. Avatar Pat j. says:

    Really sorry to hear Rivers will no longer be serving lunch!!!

  2. Avatar Janelle - Bridgehous says:

    I send my guests to Locally owned downtown restaurants, and I'm so happy that we have several to choose from. I hope Redding knows how lucky we are to be able to say we have several wonderful places to eat these days. Please support them.

  3. Avatar Kate says:

    We are so very fortunate in Redding to have several fine restaurants….our favorites are the locally owned restaurants and we are especially fond of downtown ! We encourage others to support "our restaurants" and wish we could eat out more often ourselves!! Thanks for keeping us up on the restaurant news.

  4. Avatar gamerjohn says:

    I have only been to Rivers for lunch and it was always more than half full. Maybe there is more drinking after work since the booze gets a huge margin for profit. The food is okay and the entrees are sometimes mislabeled. Skirt steak should not be that expensive.

  5. Avatar Susan Daugherty says:

    I love Maritime. I would go there more often if my budget allowed. The food is not only beautifully prepared, it is art on the plate. If you are skipping desert, you can always substitute the sweetness of Unni's smile.
    I was reminded recently that Maritime can be a great place to go even when I am not having dinner. I had a nice time at the bar last Friday evening while Michael Powell was playing guitar.
    Rivers can be a nice place to meet friends, but I've found the food to be inconsistent. I think that most of us expected more when Rivers opened. I love the view and will certainly return when I can sit outside. In the meantime, we have Moonstone Bistro, Tapas Downtown, Vintage Wine Cellar, Market Street Steakhouse…to name a few.
    We've come a long way.

  6. Avatar Adrienne jacoby says:

    I am SO, SO sad to lose Rivers to the lunch format. Those of us of the (a-hem) older persuasion and mostly retired are much more likely to do lunch out rather than dinner. A number of us had decided that Rivers for lunch was perfect combination of food and ambiance AND, when they were running their " 2 for $20" it fit most of our budgets. WAAAAAH!!
    LOVE Maritime . . . when I can afford it. And yes, with the dining experiences offered, Redding is growing up! Yea, Redding.!!!