Menu Please: What’s the Attraction at Madayne?

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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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