Friday, August 16, 2013

Travels with Chili: Three Nights on the Road, Pt. 2

Did I start to complain about the heat in Redding in Part 1 of this post? That would be like complaining about rain in Portland in January. What else would it be in Redding in the middle of August, for heaven's sake?

The bar at Jack's.

After all, the reason for going to Redding was to fulfill a longing, to quench a desire, to satiate an appetite. And that hole in the soul we both were feeling could only be filled with a trip to Jack's Grill, a nondescript, hole-in-the-wall steakhouse that captured our hearts years ago with its unassuming façade masking a ferocious dedication to steak, the whole steak and nothing but the (perfectly grilled) steak.

Martini. Shaken. Up. Olives.

Some of the online reviews of Jack's are clearly from fans like us who get that the passion here is all about respecting the meat. Yes, you get a choice of a side salad with housemade dressings, served tableside from colorful plastic salad bowls your grandmother might have used. But I'm here to let you know the greens are not going to be micro or seasonal. This is an iceberg salad your gramma would recognize, and expect, from a steakhouse, the leaves drenched in dressing but still crunchy.

Similarly, the baked potato is your grandfather's russet, creamy and soft on the inside and dry and crisp on the outside, served with the butter, sour cream and chopped chives he would have loved. Jack's is a classic, preserved-in-amber place that's still rocking the oldies like they never went out of style. So for those reviewers who wanted newfangled cocktails or organic microgreens dressed with aged Italian balsamic, who gasped and swore they'd never return, I say, "More for us!"

In my happy place. Thanks, Dave!

Our dinner, preceded by the requisite martini at the bar while we waited for a table—on a Tuesday night Jack's was packed and they don't take reservations—took place in the holy of holies, the corner booth where our magnificently decked out and behatted hostess seated us. The wine list has shown some improvement from our last visit, and since I'd neglected to pack a bottle in the car, we ordered a bottle of 2010 Clos du Bois cabernet, which was everything a cabernet should be, which is to complement the steaks on our plates.

The Sundial Bridge.

Satisfied on so many levels, at the end of dinner we bid Jack's a fond "au revoir" and returned to our bed and breakfast just down the street. The Bridgehouse Bed & Breakfast was one I'd wanted to check out, being close to Jack's and right on the Sacramento River. The rooms are spacious and pleasantly devoid of Victoriana, with one room designated as pet-friendly, a necessity on this trip. Owner Janelle Pierson was happy to accommodate the dogs, giving us space to store food in the guest fridge, as well as tending to Dave's lactose intolerance, substituting almond milk and oil for the milk and butter in her signature waffles.

Heading due north.

It's also an easy mile or so stroll across the Market Street Bridge and down the Sacramento River Trail to the Sundial Bridge, our second-favorite Redding landmark. A daring work of public art that Portland could learn a thing or two from, this bridge, designed by Santiago Calatrava, is both pedestrian and bike-friendly, drawing tourists and locals alike to experience the wide river that courses through the heart of the city. (It also puts the river crossing portion of our downtown Eastbank Esplanade to shame.)

Arriving at Calatrava's bridge early before the heat settled in, we strolled over and back, then pointed Chili north for home.

Read Pt. 1 of this post.


TooOld2Soon said...

Jacks! Your description is right on. Sometimes we call ahead to see how big the crowd is. Sometimes we drive by to see whether cars are parked in the alley. Sometimes we just go at 9:30 PM. But whenever we go the staff is as good as the steaks and the drinks. Perfect. It's just a perfect evening but you have to go with the flow. Dark, a narrow mostly meat and potatoes menu, but we just relax and enjoy the experience. Regrettably the upstairs venue with ladies of the evening closed many years ago!

KAB said...

We usually just sit at the bar, nurse our drinks and chat with the bartender (or other patrons), but the wait has never been bad…they seem to circulate through the list pretty fast. And I agree that the best approach is to go with the flow. Maybe that's the magic, and the lesson, of Jack's!