Restaurant discovery in Dunsmuir

On a trip north to Lassen and Shasta, I discovered a brand-new little restaurant that was amazingly sophisticated for its out-of-the-way location. Dunsmuir is a tiny town (population about 2,000) on state route 5 near Redding, with railroad tracks running down the center. There are boarded up empty storefronts and a little place called Dogwood Diner. It’s only been there a few months and doesn’t even have its own website yet – but it’s growing by word of mouth and garnering raves on the reviewing sites.

What makes it sustainable? Well, the chefs choose as many organic ingredients as possible and offer many creative meatless options, such as arugula salad with red quinoa, toasted almonds, and grape tomatoes with a lemon vinaigrette. You can order sweet potato gnocchi. I had a stuffed acorn squash with mixed grains and curried lentils – delightful! The papardelle noodles come with walnut pesto, broccoli rabe, kale, and parmesan.  So the biodiversity mantra to go beyond the half-dozen obvious foods  (“eat wider on the food chain”) is honored here. Fried portabella mushrooms came with cashew gravy and a puree of white beans and cauliflower – also tasty and memorable.

Our waiter showed us a really unusual touch: since the building was erected long ago on top of a creek, the owners have punched out a square hole in the floor and covered it with thick glass, making a window you can look through to see the flowing water underneath.

Dogwood Diner, 5841 Sacramento Avenue, Dunsmuir CA  (530) 678 3502.

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