Photos courtesy of Gaia

Food photos and article by Christy Milan

Travelers driving along I-5 have an opportunity to experience the Gaia Hotel, Restaurant and Spa. Positioned perfectly along I-5, the hotel overlooks the serene Sacramento River. The mountains of Shasta and Trinity loom in the distance with Mt.Shasta standing as a focal point. The valley stretches out offering many activities to locals and visitors. The Gaia is in a unique location offering little travel time to great adventures of all kinds. Within an hour or so you can be fishing, hunting, swimming, kayaking, hiking, skiing or any other activity offered here in beautiful Norcal.

Redding is considered the gateway to Oregon in the North and the Sacramento valley in the South. Worn out travelers can find a much needed reprieve in an upscale hotel. The views and over-sized rooms make for a relaxing stay. Pets are welcomed for a small fee.

The Gaia is the only hotel in the region that is LEED certified. If you are interested in environmentally sustainability, you will appreciate the Eco-friendly water and electricity usage. Everything on the property is eco-friendly, down to the shampoo and conditioner offered in the rooms. Comfortable amenities make this hotel a pleasure to stay in.

The facilities also consist of special event rooms that can accommodate anywhere from 80-300 guests. A spa is available to relax and rejuvenate the body and soul. Beautiful ponds and landscape fill the grounds. The original pecan trees that were on the property still grow and produce pecans. Events such as corporate retreats, vacations, seminars and weddings are possible within this beautifully designed unique hotel. They offer full-service catering and wedding packages. The Sacramento River serves as a back drop for the wedding garden, providing the perfect serene atmosphere.

Stepping into the Woodside Grill we were greeted with a welcoming smile. Debby Edwards was the hostess and offered us a table with views of the natural landscape. Once seated, we were able to take in our surroundings. The full bar sat nestled among bar stools and beautiful bottles filled with colorful liquids. The elegant décor in the room made it inviting. Local artist’s inspirational works are displayed on the walls. The comfort and ease of the restaurant helped to make the stress of the day melt away. Our server, Ginny Adorador, energetically informed us of the menu options. I was not disappointed in the Cajun Chicken Fettuccini described as “Fettuccini pasta tossed in a creamy garlic Alfredo sauce topped with blackened chicken.” The dish was rich with flavor and every bit as creamy as described. The Tomato basil soup was exceptionally tasty and flavorful with fire roasted tomatoes and fresh basil. The color was a deep rich red and smelled incredibly fresh. I also had a Mai Tai from the bar, complete with a cherry. It was delicious with just the right amount of each ingredient.

During the evening I met the chef, Steven Rivas. Steven has been the executive chef here for two of his two and a half years employed with Woodside Grill. He has 19 years of experience and it shows within minutes of talking with him. His passion is simply, food. Everything is made from scratch including dressings and rubs. He looks forward to challenges in his creativity. This makes him versatile in various ethnical dishes. Anywhere from Italian, Mexican, Mediterranean, or any other cuisine, Chef Steven and his kitchen staff are sure to please. The serving staff is well versed in the pairing of wines and will recommend a lovely companion to any meal. The wine selections feature California based wines. The selections of wine are unusual and not served in the local area. This provides for an experience in wine tasting that is both affordable and special.

The menu consisted of hand-cut steaks, seafood, pasta dishes, chicken, soups, specialty burgers and fresh salads. The products they use for these meals are all local sourced from farmers and ranchers. The meats are from R & R Meats, a notably local meat source. The Black Angus that is served is certified from R&R. Chef Steven emphasizes the use of local produce and meats in his dishes and gives credit to his kitchen staff. “We make it a team effort.” he states. He likes to be hands on and is looking forward to his new menu coming out soon. He prepares meals for customer satisfaction and infuses the food with flavors. The desserts offer decadent choices such as crème brulee, the famous Woodside Grill cheesecake and a “mile-high” chocolate cake that will kill any chocolate craving.

The restaurant is also LEED certified and holds as the only restaurant in the region with that certification. The recycled glass countertops, solar tubes and sustainably harvested timber are part of this process. The restaurant also includes a recycling and composting program. A portion of the food is also dedicated to needy families in Shasta and Butte counties. Still another program helps feed non-composted food waste to farms with livestock. All this adds up to helping the community and the environment. Chef Steven comments “We like to please the local community and feel that it is an important relation ship.”

Melissa Neilson is the Catering Sales Manager and has catered at Woodside Grill for four of her 6 years employed. She likes the ability to be able to help set up for any occasion as well as being able to organize a variety of events. She states that customer satisfaction is her goal. She also believes that working with the community is significant to Gaia and community.

One of the best things about the grounds is that you can take a walk after dinner, enjoy the ponds and wildlife and even sip on a glass of wine as you head off to your room. The property allows for drinks to be enjoyed wherever you would like.

Glancing around the room I noticed that for a Thursday night people of all ages were coming out to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere with their friends and family. At this time, there are only a few tables left. The locals have found a gem in the Woodside Grill. By the looks of it, others are starting to find this “hidden” place right off of I-5.

Proud winner of the BEST HOTEL IN THE NORTH STATE for 2014-2016

Upcoming Musical talents

• March 17-18 John Stewart

• March 24 Chris Lauer

• March 25 Brian Mumblefinger

• March 31 Tyler Mansfield

Friday and Saturday nights from 6-9pm. Local artists are featured. Open daily to serve Breakfast 6:30 am-11am, Lunch 11am-2pm. The restaurant opens at 4pm-6pm for happy hour. Dinner is served from 5pm-9pm Mon-Thurs, Friday and Saturday dinner served from 5pm-10pm. Gift certificates can be purchased by calling 530 365-7077 available 24 hours, for more information.