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Some 20-odd years ago, Femme de Joie had a close gal pal who lived near the Perko’s in Westwood Village. If we were out and about doing Girl Stuff, she’d often say, “Let’s grab a bite at Perko’s.” The options in that area being severely limited, M. de Joie went along with this, but was invariably underwhelmed. The food wasn’t inedible; it was indifferent and inoffensively tasteless and bland. The scrambled eggs stick in Femme de Joie’s mind as resembling the powdered eggs served in her college cafeteria. It was food as fuel – nothing more or less. After her friend moved away, M. de Joie moved Perko’s to her list of places she would never again have to darken the door.
Recently, friends TC&C recommended the Humble Joe’s on Hartnell Avenue to Amico del Signore. These are not people who patronize the House of Carrot Sticks or Fanny’s Flophouse & Pizzeria; they enjoy a good meal in clean, comfortable surroundings. Femme de Joie was highly skeptical, but TC&C had never given bad advice yet, so we headed off to breakfast. It was good enough that we returned and ordered the exact same breakfasts a week later.
In the interim between breakfasts, M. de Joie learned that Humble Joe’s owner Tom Lachuassee had been the operator of Perko’s but had grown disenchanted with the direction the company was going, so struck out on his own nearly three years ago. Perko’s soldiers on elsewhere, but the two Redding and one Anderson locations are now local.
Masterpiece Omelet with Cheddar cheese, red onions, green onions, and bacon plus hash browns, $10.48
Biscuits and gravy (included with omelet)
The Masterpiece Omelet is one of those build-your-own concepts: start with the basic cheese omelet at $8.99 and add ingredients to taste. Sometimes those are a rip-off to an unsuspecting or distracted diner, but in this case was a good value, with a surprisingly abundant amount of crisp bacon plus sauteed red onions and green scallions. Likewise, a lavish serving of hash browns on the side with melting interior and crackling exterior was twice the amount of potatoes normally served up in most breakfast houses. A peppery, creamy gravy topped the biscuit.
Oaxacan pileup, $11.49
Not the most elegant of names, but this interesting variation on huevos rancheros makes you forget the semantics. A stack of hash browns, crunchy corn tortilla, shredded pork verde, a tomatillo cream sauce, and eggs made a delicious and unusual one-dish breakfast. Again, portions were generous.
Reuben with potato salad, $11.99
M. de Joie liked the Reuben sandwich with plenty of sauerkraut and pastrami plus rather good potato salad (did not appear to be out of a deli carton), though she thought this was not as good a value as some of the other dishes on the menu.
Fish tacos and chips, $12.49
Generally speaking, Femme de Joie likes fish tacos very much. She would describe this as fish tacos for people who don’t like fish or tacos. She cannot claim to be an expert on fish sticks because she has never knowingly eaten one, but that is what appeared to be the center of attention: fish sticks carefully cut into rectangles and placed carefully on top of cubes of avocado and iceberg lettuce which was on top of slightly warmed corn tortillas with minced red onion and tomato, ranch dressing and bottled salsa on the side. It was an impressively large amount of very bland food. The fries on the side were not bad.
Femme de Joie did not visit the Anderson location so can’t comment on that, but the Westside Humble Joe’s suffered from lack of upkeep – in particular the fabric booth covers showed dismaying amounts of built-up grime where many hands and feet had made their unsightly impression over time. However, the Hartnell location is well-kept and cheerful. They cater to seniors – even though Femme de Joie and Amico del Signore are what might be termed Extremely Advanced Youth, they found themselves the youngest people in the place, which lead to being able to overhear very loud conversations from other patrons whether we wanted to or not. We now know everything there is to know about renting a car in Spain, and M. de Joie wonders if the lady in another booth will let her family know how much they hurt her feelings (she certainly repeated it often enough that everyone within earshot knows it).
However, overall M. de Joie liked Humble Joe’s. Service was fast and friendly and the food, while not haute cuisine, was better-than-average coffee shop quality. Stop in and give it a try.
Humble Joe’s Chophouse and Grill, 10 Hartnell Avenue, Redding CA 96002, 530-221-1144. Also 2631 Balls Ferry Road, Anderson CA 96007, 530-365-3308, and 6400 Westside Road, Redding CA 96001, 530-244-0738. Open Sunday through Thursday, 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM; Friday and Saturday, 6:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Cash and cards. No alcohol. Parking lot. Very confusing website at http://www.humblejoes.com/