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What's Good: A Pair of Fresh Starts in Eureka

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Annie's Cambodian Cuisine in Henderson

More renovation has been afoot in Henderson Center at 2850 F St., where Annie's Cambodian Cuisine has transplanted and transformed. The new spot, formerly Le Monde and then Manzanilla, boasts an airier, more upscale dining room than its former home in a run-down building on Fifth Street, now slated for demolition to make way for a Starbuck's and another drive-through chain.

"We were slammed. We've been pretty blessed," says Laura Chau-Yang of the Oct. 17 grand opening. Though some of that blessing was in heavy disguise back in March, when her family was first hunting for another location. "Being forced to relocate kind of gave us a clean slate," she says. Chau-Yang, who took on co-ownership with her mother Annie Chau in January, says local interior designer Aubrey Ritter helped create a welcoming and transportive space that feels like Cambodia to them. So far, the 56-seat dining room — roughly twice the size of the old place — has been filling up.

"We've seen a lot of familiar faces coming back," says Chau-Yang. While everyone is getting used to the new kitchen, the staff, but for one server who's changed careers, has returned, too. Regulars may see less of Annie's husband, Chin Chau, though. "My dad's at the age where he just wants to retire. He's worked so hard all his life," says Chau-Yang, who says she's grateful to have his help making the transition and "tying up loose ends."

The dishes with which the Chaus have built their loyal following remain as well, from the cheese puffs and spring rolls to the lemongrass stir fries, coconut-rich catfish amok and hot pots. Chau-Yang is cooking much of it alongside her mother. "The cuisine is what I grew up cooking, it's what I grew up eating as a child. These are my mom's home recipes," she says. And those won't be changing.

Tavern 1888 opens in the Eagle House

After 13 months of renovation and preparation, Tavern 1888 has opened in the Eagle House in Old Town Eureka (139 Second St.). The official grand opening was Friday, Oct. 14, and Jennifer Metz, co-owner of the Inn at 2nd & C and Phatsy Kline's Parlor Lounge, says, "We're excited to make it official." The former home of Gallagher's seats 60, says Metz, between the dining room and the bar/lounge area.

The restaurant takes its name from the year the historic building went up but the menu is more new American than old California. Executive Chef John Ruddick cooked in Hawaii for seven years before coming to Humboldt, where he also served as executive chef at the Red Lion. Metz says the Georgia roots of sous chef Jason Whitley have brought Southern and Cajun flavor to the kitchen with a family recipe for shrimp and grits and a "pasta-laya" take on jambalaya.

Newly hired pastry chef Margaret Neal will not only be heading up desserts, but bringing back tea time and morning pastries at the inn. Meanwhile, familiar face Cynthia Carter, mixologist at Phatsy's, will be at the bar and changing the seasonal cocktail and mocktail menu.

Share your tips about What's Good with Jennifer Fumiko Cahill (she/her), arts and features editor at the Journal. Reach her at (707) 442-1400, extension 320, or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @JFumikoCahill.

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