Café Maddalena " seasonal menu and perfect bites

Lauri Sturdivant

Summer menu offering wild Alaskan halibut with roasted Wild Alaskan halibut boulangere roasted over sautéed potatoes and onions with roasted tomatoes.

Sitting at the wine bar at Cafe Maddelana's Caesar salad with special and dessert chalkboard in the background.

I remember my first perfect bite at Café Maddalena's. It was on one of those dry hot later summer days. I drove down early from Mount Shasta, set up for my meeting in Dunsmuir. I had time to grab a bite and Café Maddalena's was across the street. The restaurant was empty, it was early, they might have just opened for dinner at 5:00. My friend and I ordered a glass of Rose` then I ordered a salad with watermelon and cucumber balls dressed with mint. It was perfection! The fruit was cool and crisp, not too sweet and amazingly refreshing. It was like being cooled off from the inside out. It's a special treat to go to Cade Maddalena. I try to get there at least once a season to try the current menu, when I do, there is always a perfect bite.

Maddie's is the nickname for this beloved fine dining bistro located on the corner of Pine St. and Sacramento Ave. in Dunsmuir. While the dining is top notch with tablecloths and napkins, it still has a relaxed casual, friendly atmosphere. You can eat at the wine bar to watch the coming and going of the kitchen staff, on the patio under the grape arbor with the sound of the spring water that runs under the businesses on Sacramento Ave. or table seating in the restaurant overlooking the Union Pacific railroad yard.

Chef owner Brett LaMott changes the menu with the seasons and the summer menu had just come out so, a friend and I went to dinner. Soon after we sat at the wine bar, we were served soft warm Focaccia bread with olive oil for dipping. Next, we selected a bottle of wine from the well curated wine list. After looking over the offerings I settled on the roasted beet salad, my friend had the salad of petite romaine hearts, croutons, Reggiano parmigiana, Caesar dressing; hold the anchovies. ($12.50). The dressing was creamy and the right amount of cheese dressed the crispy tender romaine. I ordered the beet, carrot, turnip and Napa cabbage slaw. ($8.50) with a well-balanced sugar and vinegar tangy slaw dressing. They also added yellow raisins.

For our entrées, we both decided on the Wild Alaskan halibut boulangere roasted over sautéed potatoes and onions with roasted tomatoes. ($27). The roasted tomatoes set off the snowy white color of the salty, moist sweetness of the tender fish. The caramelized onions added a sweet warm richness to the starchiness of the potatoes. This all added up to a perfect bite!

Wild Alaskan halibut boulangere roasted over sautéed potatoes and onions with roasted tomatoes

The cuisine style of this little café is fresh, seasonal food that Chef LaMott prepares in a way that shows respect for the quality ingredients by enhancing their flavors, balancing the texture that is presented as a beautiful plate of food. Their website states the menu is inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, with flavors from Spain, France, Italy and North Africa. They source produce from local farmers and pay attention to what is in season so they can offer the freshest food to their customers. Ask your server for the daily chalkboard specials and desserts.

Café Maddalena is open for dinner Thursday through Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. The address is 5801 Sacramento Ave., Dunsmuir. Call 530-265-2725, as reservations are suggested. Visit www.cafemaddalena.com to view the current menu.