Menu Please: Trending Downward at Trendy’s

It seems to be an inescapable part of growing older: asking, “Do you remember -” and increasingly finding the answer is, “No.” The Rite Spot, Shasta Maid, Redding Bakery, Shasta Bakery, the Shack, Midway Inn, Ramona’s, Holly Cafe – for longtime locals, those exist only in memories; sometimes the location has been erased, paved over or left to the nonstop erosion of time.

Femme de Joie was just a wee tot when she and Maman de Joie visited the old Gold Street Cafe – in particular she remembers a slice of caramel layer cake; a few days later she asked Maman if she thought the cafe still had any. Over the years there were many visits to Gold Street Cafe; it was inexpensive, quick, and the diner-style food was pretty good, with the homemade pies in a glass display case a standout. Then the cafe was sold a couple of times and finally closed in late 2014.

A few months ago a banner appeared on the east wall of that building, announcing that Trendy’s would open soon. Now Femme de Joie has to say here and now that she thought Trendy’s was an awful name for a restaurant. It sounds like a place in the mall selling cheap fall-apart jewelry to teenage girls. But the reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor were generally positive, and the food photos looked luscious, so how bad could it be?

The old pastel paint and faux-Victorian decor is gone, replaced with sleek black and white paint and accents of red. A major and much-needed change was changing the restrooms around so you don’t have to walk outside the building to get to them. Service is generally fast and on the chatty side.

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Corned beef hash and eggs, $11.00

Corned beef hash is made in-house and did taste homemade, though there didn’t seem to be a lot of it on the plate. Amico del Signore asked for hash browns and was told Trendy’s doesn’t serve them, but that the garlic herb house potatoes were “really special.” We found them not-special without much garlic or herb taste, just home fries by another name.

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Griddle cakes were recommended with the corned beef hash and the waitress assured us that “everything is homemade.” From where M. de Joie sat, she could clearly see the restaurant-sized boxes of Krusteaz Pancake Mix on a shelf in the back, so she wasn’t terribly surprised when the pancakes proved to be very sweet with overwhelming vanilla taste. Perhaps the Krusteaz is used for a purpose other than pancakes, but having used this product herself, Femme de Joie feels this is the “homemade” pancake batter. Some people consider adding an egg and milk to a mix to be homemade; M. de Joie is not one of those people. It reminds one of the very old joke about the young bride who went all over town looking for a box of scratch because her new husband told her that’s what his mother made cake from.

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Country Fried Steak, $11.00

Eggs were ordered straight up; they arrived runny on top. While M. de Joie doesn’t mind this, most people would strenuously object being served uncooked egg white. Likewise undercooked was the roux for the gravy; the gravy tasted of raw flour. The country fried steak also suffered from raw flour underneath the crisp exterior – probably from cooking too fast so that the outside was done before the entire coating was cooked. The steak itself separated into curious layers when prodded with a knife.

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Biscuit and gravy would have been good if (A) the biscuit had been baked all the way through and (B) not smothered in the raw-flour gravy.

Femme de Joie is a clean-plate ranger, but left quite a bit of this meal on her plate. Amico del Signore declined to accompany her on subsequent visits.

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Two carnitas gringo tacos, $12, with house-made potato salad

The carnitas tacos were quite good, with juicy, tender meat, a spicy aioli over avocado slices, and melted cheese cradling the inside of the flour tortilla taco shell. The menu promised jicama slaw but what was delivered was cabbage. Potato salad had lots of dill pickle and was one of the better restaurant potato salads M. de Joie has tasted, There was a lot of empty territory on the plate, though; for $12.00 you’d expect a bit more actual food.

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The Bomb Burger, $12.00, with fries, extra $1.00 for garlic and Parmesan

This is one of Trendy’s most popular items, or so the waitress said. The 1/3 pound burger itself was good, but the Cholula fried onions didn’t have any Cholula taste (there’s an oversized bottle of Cholula on M. de Joie’s kitchen counter at all times, so she’s quite familiar with the pequin-arbol flavor). The onions had a nice light crunch at first but as they cooled, the crunch morphed into a bready, starchy texture that didn’t enhance the burger and mostly wound up back on the plate, along with the none-too-fresh flap of leaf lettuce. The garlic fries were probably wonderful when they were hot, but Femme de Joie didn’t get to experience them then. When they arrived at her table, they were lukewarm and gummy. Maybe they were cooked at the beginning of the 15 minutes it took to get the order and had been patiently awaiting the burger.

After reading the glowing reviews online and hoping Trendy’s would carry on the diner food legacy of Gold Street Cafe, it’s almost as though M. de Joie visited an entirely different restaurant. There’s nothing wrong with Trendy’s that some basic timing and cooking practice can’t fix. But when the food is disappointing, the menu prices seem even higher than they are – and they do seem pricey for portion size and quality. She hopes that some simple kitchen management will take care of the problems. Trendy’s has plenty of fans, but right now Femme de Joie doesn’t see whatever it is they see.

Trendy’s. 1730 Gold Street at Railroad Avenue, Redding, CA 96001. 530-768-1499. Open Monday-Friday, 6:00 AM – 2:00 PM, Sunday 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Closed Saturdays, Cash and cards; no checks. No alcohol. Vegetarian and vegan options. Parking lot. Follow them on Facebook.

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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