The Cuisine Scene
Since Iím not a
California native, Iím still discovering places to visit in the area. I
love when people tell me about a good restaurant, and it doesnít matter
if itís an elegant establishment with linen tablecloths or a smaller
place where you order at the counter. What does matter is the food:
Does it taste good? And do you get good value for your money?
people rave over a decorated plate with colorful swirls surrounding a
miniscule food item, I tend to shy away from such places. When I see,
for instance, three spears of asparagus artistically arranged in a
starburst formation around a sliver of potato propped over two bites of
meat, alarms go off and I instantly think Iím getting very little food
at a very high price. My feeling is, save the decorations and give me
I recognize the
need for such places, however, especially for impressing a new boss or
a spouseís parents, but thatís not what Iím looking for at this
Now when I try a
new restaurant, I want to know what is special about it. Why would I
want to return? Do they have at least one dish that I especially like?
Thatís the way
it was with Carolynís Cafť near the Citrus Plaza. I didnít even know it
was there, but Kathryn, who doesnít normally eat sweets, raved about
their coffee cake. When she said she wanted to go back and have another
piece, I knew I had to check it out.
Lugonia from J.C. Pennyís at the Citrus Plaza, Carolynís has been open
over a year and doing a brisk business by word of mouth. Sitting a few
doors West of the DMV, Iíd never noticed it, and I love investigating
small, out-of-the-way places. But, as I'm a night owl just getting to
sleep when she opens at six in the morning, it was easy for me to miss.
Inside, I was
struck by the muted greens and yellows. ĎSoothing,í Kathryn commented.
Housing about eight booths, the cafe also offers seating at the
counter. In addition to a four-page menu, daily soup and dessert
specials were listed on an eraser board.
Monday: navy bean
Tuesday: creamy broccoli potato
Wednesday: corn chowder
Thursday: chicken & rice
Friday: clam chowder
Daily: vegetable Beef
A cup for $2.00, Bowl for $3.20
Peach cobbler dessert
We were there on
a Thursday, so their homemade soup was chicken and rice plus their
daily vegetable beef. I love homemade chicken soup, but they were out
by early afternoon, so I tried the vegetable beef. Many restaurants
make it, but I havenít found many where Iíd return simply to have their
soup. Carolynís is the exception. The broth was rich with flavor, thick
with beef, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and other vegetables. I only
tried a cup, but next time Iíll have a bowl.
Strickland, the owner, said sheíll have heartier soups for the winter
such as split pea, and plans dishes like chicken and dumplings and
grilled cheese with tomato soup.
No stranger to
the restaurant business, she began in 1975 with Sambos in Claremont,
where she met her husband who was cooking at the time. Together, they
worked several chains, including the Country Kitchen in Phoenix. She
was with Kays Cafť in Highland for over eleven years, then, with the
development around Citrus Plaza, she saw the opportunity to open her
own cafť. She recruited her twin sons and daughter in law to help.
Bradley, one of the twins, enjoys learning the business between
(Bradley & mother, Carolyn Strickland)
Since they open
at 6am, they serve several breakfasts including their three-egg
Scramblers for $7.95. The Veggie is scrambled with mushrooms, spinach,
tomatoes and onions, and they offer four others ranging from The
Denver, the chili-cheese with homemade steak chili, the Spanish with
Ortega chilies, cheeses, and all are served with country-fried potatoes
or a cup of fruit, and choice of toast, English muffin, biscuit &
gravy, or coffee cake.
They also offer
the standard breakfasts of eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits & gravy,
country fried steak and eggs and corned beef hash. Pancakes are
popular, especially the pecan or chocolate chip stacks, $4.74 for four
pancakes, or a short stack of two pancakes, for $3.75. They also have
waffles and French toast.
Some of the sides are oatmeal, bagels, and biscuits & gravy.
sandwiches and burgers for $7.75 include the club, a triple-decker with
turkey, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, the French dip on a
toasted French roll, and the melts-patty, tuna, beef or turkey, and the
Reuben, with corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on grilled rye
bread. Burgers come in about four varieties, the avocado cheese, Ortega
cheese, bacon or mushroom cheese. The above are served with choice of
French fries, onion rings, salad, cup of soup or fruit.
Specialties are the Western Chicken sandwich and a Frisco Burger of a
beef patty, bacon, lettuce, cheese, 1000 Island dressing, all on
grilled parmesan sourdough bread for $8.50.
specialties include country fried steak with homemade mashed potatoes
and gravy for $7.95, chicken strips, hot meatloaf sandwich as well as
hot turkey and hot beef.
salads are $7.00 and served with cheesy garlic bread. They have Asian
chicken salad with poppy seed dressing, and tuna salad, spinach and
bacon salad, plus several other chicken choices.
Kathryn ordered the chicken Caesar with the dressing on the side.
And I had the fried chicken salad with blu cheese.
But what Kathryn
loved was their homemade coffee cake. Carolyn said it's more of a
cinnamon-streusel and itís heated and topped with real butter.
I tasted it and
found it good, but like a true Southerner, I went for the peach
cobbler. Made with pie crust instead of a crumbly crust, I felt I was
in heaven. I declined ice cream and happily poured cream over it.
Remember, Southerners are the ones who dunked crusty skillet cornbread
in buttermilk. I guess my grandfather wasnít the only one who loved
Open 7 days
6am-2pm Monday through Saturday
1711 Lugonia Ave
Redlands, CA 92374