The Samoa Cookhouse, located in the small town of Samoa, across Humboldt Bay from Eureka, is the last surviving cookhouse located on the west coast of the U.S., and it continues the tradition of serving lots of good, basic, food, repared lumber camp style. The museum and dining room feature early culinary items in addition to historical mementos from the early years of the lumber and logging industries.
When you pay a visit to the Samoa Cookhouse there are two things you need to keep in mind: 1) Leave your attitude at the door, and, 2) Bring your appetite. And lots of appetite... and more...
Photo: If Samoa Cookhouse looks like a logging camp cookhouse, that's an accurate description, as "back in the day," it served hungry loggers who worked for the former Hammond Lumber Company. Today is Saturday, October 09, 2004, and we're as hungry as lumberjacks, so we've come to the right place for dinner.
Photo: As soon as you walk in, the menu greets you. The only "high-tech" thing about the menu is that its written on an easily erasable white board. The cookhouse doesn't have a menu, as you eat whatever is being served on the day you dine. You can call ahead and ask what they'll be serving on the day you plan to visit.
The Samoa Cookhouse has been around since the 1880's, when it used to feed men that worked for the Hammond Lumber Company. When the lumber company ceased to exist, the cookhouse reverted to private ownership and started feeding the masses, a.k.a. tourists, like us. And, feeding the masses it does, featuring fine food served "lumber camp" style.
You walk in and the friendly host/hostess greets you with a smile and asks you where you would like to sit. You look around and you notice the rustic, unique decor - the decor of a logging camp cookhouse (no surprise, eh?) You're seated family style, at long tables that feature red and white tablecloths and real crockery cups and dishes stacked already in place. You'll also notice lots of happy diners, and the smell of freshly prepared food. Take a look to your left, and you can look into the huge kitchen and watch the folks prepare your meal.
Photo: You walk into the Samoa Cookhouse, and you're greeted with a large dining room, filled with lots of hungry diners. Sharlene waits to be seated, as the sign plainly states.
Photo: We're seated at one of the many tables in the main dining room. You're seated family-style - like lumberjacks - so you may find yourself dining with strangers, which makes the dining experience even more memorable.
Our smiling waitress's name was Amber, and she was pleased to make us feel at home and a part of the family. She asked us if we'd eaten at the cookhouse before, and I said that I had. For Sharlene's benefit, she explained how the food is served and asked us if we were ready. That was a no-brainier, Yesss!
Like in a logging camp cookhouse, a different main dish is served every night. Tonight's main dish was chicken breast with barbecue sauce and baked ham. The entrees are pretty much the same every night: Potatoes, cooked vegetables, soup, green salad, bread and desert. Included with your order are drinks, consisting of ice tea and coffee, and our course, lots of fresh ice water.
Photo: In passing, Amber, our friendly waitress, greets Sharlene. The open kitchen can be seen to the right of the photo. Unfortunately, the lighting is on the dim side, so there is quite a bit of digital noise in most of the photos.
Photo: Amber, with her ever-present smile, strikes a friendly pose for my camera. I love taking photos of beautiful women, and Amber is no exception!
When I came back from snapping photos, I was greeted with a tossed-green salad, a huge slice of incredibly fresh bread, and a bowl of piping hot chicken gumbo soup. Time to dig in, pig-out and enjoy!
Photo: Sharlene fills her bowl from the gumbo soup that had been placed on our table. Our friendly server placed a large bowl of soup on the table in front of us, and we simply helped ourselves. Freshly baked bread is also included with dinner.
Photo: Oh Boy! My salad with all the fixin's is waiting for me. Samoa Cookhouse features fantastic food and fantastic service. You're served family-style, and it's all-you-can-eat. If you want seconds of anything, just ask, and the food will be cheerfully brought to your table.
I looked in the kitchen and noticed loaves of bread stacked up, ready to be sliced. I asked Amber if the bread was baked in-house and she said that it was. When I pressed her further, she said the bread is baked in the early morning, to be ready when they open for breakfast at 7:00 A.M. I figured as such, as the bread is incredibly fresh.
Photo: Have you ever seen napkins placed in a recycled coffee can, and placed at your table? We loved the rustic decor.
Photo: Amber brings Sharlene her main course, with a friendly smile.
When we were finished with the first course, our ever smiling waitress asked us if were ready for the main course. Then she brought us the main course-of-the day: Ham, with honey sauce and chicken breast with tasty barbecue sauce. The main course was accompanied by baked potatoes and corn. Oh yes, lots of butter!
Photo: Our friendly, and cute (very important) waitress, Amber, serves us a second course. At Samoa Cookhouse, you are served from a bottomless plate, as its never empty.
Photo: Our main course dinner consisted of ham, barbecue chicken, baked potatoes along with corn, which makes a meal "to die for..."
Desert was freshly-baked apple pie, accompanied with perhaps the best coffee I've ever had. They don't just bring you a cup of coffee, they bring you a pot of it!
As I mentioned before, the food is served lumber camp style. That means that they bring the food in bowls, set it down on the table, and you serve yourself. If that sounds like work it isn't; it's a lot of fun and an intriguing part of the unique dining experience. Oh yes, did I mention that this is an all-you-can eat place? They will bring you seconds as many times as you wish. If you go away hungry from this place, it's your own fault.
Photo: A peek into Samoa Cookhouse's huge kitchen, as I catch a cook keeping a watchful eye on some fine pieces of chicken cooking on the grill. The kitchen is open to the dining room, so it's easy to watch the friendly staff in action, as they prepare your delicious meal.
Photo: After the meal, if you're so inclined, you can check out the logging museum. Actually, I found the typewriters very interesting, as they were labeled as the forerunner of modern computers; rightly so...
Just like the decor, the food is rustic, unpretentious, and just plain good! The price is very reasonable; our dinner cost us about $32.00 and that included a couple of beers. Since our waitress was so efficient, friendly and charming, (not to mention putting up with me constantly taking pictures and asking her "dumb" questions,) we gave her a generous tip.
Jeff, the greater and cashier, was a real character. Like all the other employees, he was very friendly and made us feel welcome.
Left: Jeff, the friendly check-out guy and greeter, takes our money. Hey, you gotta say "hello" to this guy, as he's as nice as they come. He'll talk your ear off, and give you an award-winning smile. My kind of guy!
When we finished our meal, we treated ourselves to a tour of the small museum located in the building that features item from logging days. I especially liked the collection of vintage typewriters and adding machines; logging camp computers!
When you're in the Eureka area, take a drive across Humboldt Bay for friendly, efficient service and all the good food you can eat, served in a unique, historical atmosphere. You can't find a better combination than the Samoa Cookhouse.
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