Leaving Oregon and entering California today: a 135-mile / 220-kilometer trip to Eureka.
The Gold Beach sea mist mentioned at dinner the day before, made complete sense to me the next morning.
Everything was obscured from sight, intensifying the sounds of the waves breaking on the beach and the cries of the seagulls. Very relaxed to slowly wake up to as typically those sounds are the two options on my alarm clock…
Especially more inland things did clear up, but the majority of the coastal vista points were shrouded in mist (which resulted in some beautiful pics).
Leaving Oregon, the US-101 transitions from the Oregon Coast Highway to the Redwood Highway. The main changes are that speed limits rises to 65 mph, and there are now also more significant stretches with 2 lanes. Otherwise, the route still provides a beautiful combination of coastal and forest stretches and great views. Too bad that, especially around the Redwood National and State Park, the mist became pretty dense, so we decided to drive straight to Eureka and have lunch there instead of along the way.
One of the rare moments that we saw some spots of blue sky on the coastal sections of the Redwood National and State Park: a stop close to the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Centre near Orick, CA.
Lunch was at The Banana Hut (621 5th Street). Poke bowls are also quite the thing back home, so we thought it would be great to get some at this Hawaiian restaurant a couple of blocks from our hotel. I had already learned from my boss that, over time, Hawaiian cuisine evolved into a mix of Asian, Polynesian, and American. Furthermore, pretty much everything is served with a side of both macaroni salad and rice, and there are loads of dishes that involve spam from a can… She did recommend to try out the authentic Hawaiian BBQ dishes involving Kalua Pig, succulent slow-roasted smoky pork that will melt in your mouth… 🤤
The Banana Hut didn’t have poke bowls on their menu, so we had to explore the remainder of Hawaiian cuisine. What my boss said turned out to be true: there are many hybrid and “Hawaiian-style” dishes like Musubi (sushi), Manapua (Char Siu steamed buns), Saimin (Egg noodles) as well as many familiar Asians dishes like Chicken Teriyaki, Bulgogi, and Katsu Curry. Spam was indeed featured on the menu, as was the Kalua Pig.
The Manapua was precisely what was to be expected of a steamed bun, but the Kalua Pig filling was incredibly tasty. The Calamari, Pineapple Spare Ribs, and Chicken Katsu Curry that the others had were great. The Loco Moco that I ordered was advertised as a true Hawaiian classic. This dish consists of a beef patty covered with caramelized onions and a sunny-side egg on top of a mound of rice and drowned in brown gravy. It was tasty, but its flavors are not particularly outspoken, so I would be going for a Kalua Pig main dish if given a choice.
The weather in Eureka was fantastic, so the rest of the afternoon was spent by the kids at the pool of our hotel, the Best Western Plus Humboldt Bay Inn (232 West 5th Street). I had some domestic chores to attend to and had to clean the car windows. The very fine sand from the Oregon dunes was starting to obscure the views.
Our dinner was at Brick & Fire (1630 F Street), a small, yet cozy Italian bistro/wine bar with – as its name suggests – a vast wood-fired brick oven as kitchen centerpiece. Obviously great for pizza, but also ideal for getting a magnificent sear on meat and extra crispy crusts on gratins and other oven dishes. We could experience that first-hand as the oven was used to prepare pretty much all our dishes, even the desserts were finished in there.
The kids share a pizza Margherita. A delicious thin-crusted base, not soggy and with high-quality toppings. No surprise that it was gone in no time.
Chantal had an exciting Polenta Lasagna. Layers of roasted eggplant and red peppers, sautéed mushrooms, and a dried-tomato basil tapenade alternated with firm cheesy polenta instead of pasta. Of course, baked in the oven and served with a warm tomato compôte and a green salad.
I had my eyes set on the Snake River American Kobe Beef Fettina Steak, the “flap cut” from the flank. This incredibly tender steak was garlic marinated and quickly grilled and served with a red wine sauce that had blueberries and ancho chilies in it. It came with a side of creamy, goat cheese infused, potato gratin. We paired them with an amazing 2014 “Milbrandt” Syrah from K Vinters (Wahluke Slope, Washington, 94 Points awarded by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate), which had no problem whatsoever to counter and complement the very bold flavors in both our dishes.
Overall excellent food in normal-sized portions in a very friendly atmosphere. It was packed that entire Thursday evening, so well worth making a reservation here.