On a beautiful autumn afternoon a few friends and I wandered into Karline’s Restaurant & Bar at 1100 Center Street in Redding to treat ourselves to dinner out after a visit to the historic Cascade Theatre. Our choice was effortless since this classy little getaway is listed as the theatre’s official dining partner.

   We were greeted and seated by our friendly server Nicole Duncan who offered ice water, cocktails from the full bar and suggested the crispy calamari appetizer that we chose to begin our divine dining experience at Karline’s. The open air style kitchen allowed us a fascinating view of chef Leo Cardenas and his staff expertly practicing their craft amid steaming pasta pots and flaming skillets wafting tempting scents of garlic and oregano through the air. Topped with a drizzle of spicy aioli and served with a roasted tomato sauce the tender calamari quickly disappeared as the dinner crowd began to file in.

When Pete and Gail Van De Koolwyk of Palo Alto arrived it was obvious they were regulars. Several of the staff members stopped to greet them with hugs and their beverage order was an unspoken given. They were seated at the table next to ours and I learned they visit Karline’s every Thursday for their weekly date night.

   As soon my hubby Randy saw Shrimp Scampi on the menu his choice was made. He never can resist the buttery wine sauce filled with garlic over giant prawns nestled tidily atop a bed of tasty linguini. Served with a mix of fresh steamed veggies and garlic toast this familiar

favorite hit the spot. My friend Kryston loves Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo and she raved about the exceptional homemade quality of the creamy parmesan sauce carefully prepared at Karline’s. The large portion allowed her to take half home to enjoy for lunch the next day. The fresh baked bread that came with our veggie filled garden salads was so delicious that we all filled up a bit dipping the small slices in the olive oil and balsamic vinegar that continued to draw us in until alas, we had eaten it all. With entree choices varying from pasta classics like the cheesy Lasagna with Bolognese to a spicy Jambalaya with chicken and andouille sausage, I struggled to decide. Several of the salads tempted me as well including the colorful Roasted Beet Salad with toasted almonds, caramelized onions, feta cheese, spinach, arugula and a tangy raspberry vinaigrette dressing with red and golden beets. In the end I asked that the chef choose for me and he sent out a melt in my mouth delight dubbed Osso Bucco.

Two thick chops of braised veal graced my plate resting comfortably atop a bed of the best polenta I have ever tasted. With a touch of sage and just the right amount of salt, it could not have been better. The meat was so tender I easily cut it with my fork before dipping it the dark demi glaze that brought the whole dish together in an explosion of slow simmered flavor. Topped with a finely sliced celery salad to add a cool freshness this dish is one that I would order over and over again.

Although we were all far to full for dessert as we sat there sipping coffee after our meal, we did opt to take a piece of the thick New York Style cheesecake to go. With sides of chocolate, caramel and raspberry sauces it was a perfect bit of sweet to share later as we watched movies.

   Opening daily at 4pm Karline’s Restaurant & Bar offers cocktails and dinner seven days a week. Friday and Saturday nights offer service until 10pm while weeknights wind down at 9pm.

   Whether you live in Redding or are just in town for a show or a visit treat yourself to a truly divine dine at Karline’s Restaurant & Bar.