Menu Please: Country Kitchen – Something for Everyone

Femme de Joie misses the old Omelet House, up there on North Hilltop.

No, it wasn’t a transcendental experience, but it was a pretty good place to get breakfast in a town where decent breakfasts are thin on the ground. Behind the counter was a menu signed by Ron Howard, who stopped in one morning for provender. Whatever happened to that menu?

About 20 years ago Country Kitchen opened next door to, then moved into, that old Omelet House space. They’ve made a successful go of it, dishing up breakfasts and lunch for some years now – they were even mentioned in the New York Times “36 Hours in Redding” (http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/07/07/travel/escapes/07hours.html ). It’s the kind of place where you pick up The Nickel outside to peruse while you wait for your food, in case you were in the market for eustachian equipment, a dowsing class, or Pearl Harbor pups.

Country Kitchen is known mostly for their generous servings of breakfast, though they do lunch too, as well as sell bread and cinnamon rolls from their bakery. Generally customers are shuffled first into the smaller dining room, mostly booths with a couple of tables in the center. But if it’s busy, the larger Omelet House area handles the overflow. Customers are a mix of retirees, families, working men, and an aging hippie or two. Service is friendly, if occasionally somewhat scattered – the person who brings the coffee may be quick to tell you she isn’t your waitress.

Scrapple with hash browns, a biscuit, and eggs, $9.55; side of gravy, $1.99.

Oh, it did gladden M. de Joie’s heart to see scrapple on the menu. If you’re not familiar with this delicious dish, it’s what was made with the remainder of the pig once the chops, ribs, roasts, and so on were removed – the small, flavorful scraps were boiled with cornmeal to make a thick pudding, which was fried until crisp. This version is topped with bacon to reiterate the porky goodness, and served with potatoes and eggs. Lovely crisp scrapple cakes were tender on the inside with a crunch on the outside. You wouldn’t want to eat this every day unless you carry a defibrillator in your back pocket, but it’s a treat once in a while.

Special of the day, sourdough pancakes with peaches, sour cream and brown sugar cinnamon sauce, sausage, $8,25.

When this plate was first set before M. de Joie, it truly looked like fried eggs on top. Nope – it was canned peaches. The pancakes were delicious, but M. de Joie could not bring herself to appreciate the oddly bitter creamy cinnamon syrup. Too bad – the pancakes and peaches (out of a can) would have been better served with plain (imitation) maple or fruit syrup.

Chinese chicken salad, $9.75, served with house-made cornbread.

You wouldn’t expect a salad so blatantly healthy and colorful to come out of the kitchen of a mainly-breakfast cafe, but there is was. This was excellent – freshly-grilled chicken on top of a beautiful array of crisp vegetables. If there was any complaint, it was that the dressing was so thin, it didn’t stick to the salad and puddled underneath. Other than that, Chinese chicken salad was a winner, as was the crunchy cornbread served alongside.

The only item Femme de Joie tasted at Country Kitchen that was a misfire was chicken fried steak (not pictured) – the doughy, undercooked crust was unappetizing and the steak was very salty. as was the gravy that day.

Though there are some misses on the execution, M. de Joie likes Country Kitchen and could be persuaded to go back. It does get crazy busy at times, especially Sunday mornings, so call ahead if you’re with a group. There’s something for everyone on the menu and the prices are fair for the large portions. If you’re out on Hilltop waiting for the mall to open, stop by.

Country Kitchen, Town and Country Plaza, 1099 Hilltop Drive, Redding, CA 96002. 530-223- 5438. Open daily from 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Breakfast and lunch, bakery. No alcohol. No checks accepted; cards, cash. On-site parking. Vegetarian options. Website at http://www.countrykitchenredding.com/

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.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Chamberlain, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.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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17 Responses

  1. Avatar Chris B. says:

    Oh my, scrapple! If only we'd known about this place when my husband was still alive. My Bucks County, PA chef hubby LOVED scrapple and he'd persuade my stepson to fly some out to us periodically. I was immune to its charms, sad to say.

    Bummer about the chicken fried steak though, that's my heart-attack breakfast favorite at places like this.

    • Avatar Autumn says:

      Chris, so sorry about your hubby! You should try the chicken fried steak someday, I'm not typically a fan but have enjoyed it off my Dad's plate many times at the Country Kitchen. 🙂

  2. Avatar Canda says:

    I love breakfast at Country Kitchen, and those homemade biscuits are the best I've ever tasted. It always seems like old home week when I go to Country Kitchen. I enjoy running into people I haven't seen forever. Great food, and great memories!

  3. We have a group that meets once a month at Country Kitchen. The staff is very accomodating and year after year the group has voted to remain at CK. The bread pudding is delectable–some of us treat ourselves at breakfast! Our daughter and her family go there after church on Sundays and LOVE those cinnamon rolls. Just as importantly, when we go there we are supporting a business owned by our Redding neighbors. Especially in this economy it is important to do so.

  4. Avatar Scott says:

    Ate there once and never again. Friendly enough staff, but the food was not even as good as something I'd make at home, so why spend money on it?

  5. Avatar Mary D says:

    Country Kitchen has the best homemade soups! Always interesting and tasty. Country Kitchen is my favorite restaurant for breakfast and lunch. I love their chicken salad sandwich with cranberry sauce on raisin toast with a cup of soup.

  6. Avatar Paul Frye says:

    The Kitchen is also an early morning meeting spot for fishing parties meeting up to brave the Sacrameto and its "Rambo" trout. John Gorka, popular folk singer, says that scrapple is like Spam, but without the health benefits.

    They serve a very nicely prepared eggs and corned beef hash. It is mechanized to a smaller dice that The Lumberjack, whose corned beef is edible, but similar in name only to The Country Kitchen's offering.

    It's also a grandkid friendly place and their Cinammon rolls were worth a trip for one from Anderson offices. Suffice it to say that this Redding diner likes the place and is definitely a Redding kind of place. Kinda' like Broadway and 32nd street in NY, if you stand there long enough you'll see everyone that is.

    • Femme de Joie Femme de Joie says:

      Dear Paul,

      Bonus points for mentioning the wonderful John Gorka.

      Thanks for commenting,

      Femme de Joie

  7. Avatar Grammalyn says:

    We love Country Kitchen. It is one of our favorite places since the food is always excellent, and there is enough to take home for the next day. The baked goods are sinfully delicious….those cinnamon rolls…wow! Waitresses are fun and friendly, which is an added plus.

  8. Avatar KarenC says:

    I'm a fan of Country Kitchen. We have always had decent breakfasts there. I especially like that I can order my favorite tuna salad for breakfast….so good. My only complaint is that the booths we usually sit in are so dang hard. Service has always been good and the aroma from the baking drives me wild.

  9. Avatar A.J. says:

    Too bad they can't clea the place up a bit.

  10. Avatar Sandye says:

    I have been going to Country Kitchen since Mr. Duclous owned it in the 80's. The food has always been delectable and fresh. Fresh eggs! Having raised chickens before I can tell the difference between fresh and store bought. One of my favorite locally owned resteraunts in town.

  11. Avatar Sandye says:

    Opps! Partimers slipped in for a second! It wasnt Mr. duclous that owned Country Kitchen in 80's but the late Mr. Ralph Dulong. Sorry on my error.

  12. Avatar Terri says:

    My husband had ham & eggs, while I had a sandwich. His ham was paper thin and burnt, toast was also burnt, eggs had to be sent back twice before they were ALMOST right. Our iced tea had the taste of 2 week old tea. Ugh!
    Our bill came to $25 plus change. Never again!! They have allowed someone who is not a cook by trade..I’ve seen him…Hmmmm. Nuff said.