Thursday, January 20, 2011

Up a Creek at Salt Creek?

Salt Creek Grille
32802 Pacific Coast Highway
Dana Point, CA 92629

We were headed down PCH to a different restaurant when we, along with the rest of the unsuspecting motorists were forced to stop, and turn around. Police had blocked off the highway because a crazy lady decided to hold a standoff with the police. So now on to plan B.

Plan B just happened to be Salt Creek Grille. I had been here two times before for brunch, but never for dinner. We arrived at the restaurant at 8, and it was a thirty to forty minute wait. Yikes! No seats in the bar, so it was out to the front porch for us to wait it out. The wait went by pretty quick because there were a lot of cougars in attendance, and it was fun watching them maneuver around to attract their prey.

Salt Creek opened in 1996, and since then they have opened four other locations. Two spots in California, (El Segundo and Valencia), and two other New Jersey locations. Salt Creek Grille is housed in all wood. Being inside gave me the feeling of being warm and cozy up in the mountains, instead of being mere steps from the beach. The staff was young and good looking, and lended to the hip atmosphere, without being too stuffy. Enough about the place, let's see the food.

Here is a picture of the bread basket we were presented with. The bread was good in areas. Some slices of bread were heavy in garlic and some regions of the loaf were, well just slices of bread. The slices of heavy garlic were of course my favorite.

How could anyone pass up bacon and shrimp? The answer is you can't. We had to get the Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp above. The shrimp was wrapped in crispy bacon, and stuffed with horseradish. The flavors in this hit you in waves. The smokey bacon hit you first, and then to a lesser degree the shrimp was present, and then the last kick was the horseradish. The chipotle honey sauce that was served with this was good in doses. Very sweet, I used the sauce on two of the four shrimp that I ate. Excellent starter.

Now on to the salads. Katie went with the Salt Creek House Salad. This salad featured granny smith apple slices, glazed walnuts, Gorgonzola, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Katie felt that this salad was, "nothing special". They were light on the dressing, but the ingredients were fresh. She also made a point of telling me that she enjoyed that this salad came out cold.

A cold salad would not be the case with my choice, the Caesar Over Mesquite. This warm salad also contained asiago cheese and Caesar dressing. Like Katie's salad this needed more dressing. I also was not too keen on the warm aspect of this. The best part of this salad for me was the cheese.

Salt Creek offers all-inclusive pirx fixe dinners, and Katie could not resist. Along with her salad, she got the Spicy Gulf Shrimp Pasta. Shrimp served over pasta, with a goat cheese bechamel sauce, and then plated with roasted vegetables. Katie said that she could not be more pleased with this dish. She mentioned that the shrimp was tender, vegetables were flavorful, and the pasta was good. I had one bite of this, and it did taste pretty good.

What we have above is the, "Brandt Beef" Blue Cheese Crusted "Baseball-Cut" Top Sirloin, one of the longest named things I have ever eaten on this blog. I almost cramped up my hand typing the name of this plate. This 10 ounce steak was served with caramelized onions and a classic demi glace. The steak was cooked perfectly, the sauce was great and blue cheese did not over power the meat, it enhanced it. The only problem was the meat itself. The cut that I had was too tough, and that is with it being cooked medium rare. It took great effort to get my steak knife through the steak. The jalapeno au gratin potato side dish that came with this almost made up for the tough meat. The flavor was good and the potatoes were cooked perfectly, and melted in my mouth.

The end of Katie's dinner came with a special chef dessert. Tonight's offering was Carrot Cake. I love carrot cake, but this unfortunately was not good cake. It was dry, too floury, and the icing was not very sweet. Not the grand finale we were going for.

Salt Creek Grille had a great vibe, and food that almost lived up to it. I saw on the menu that Zagat calls their pork chops the best in the world, and that is something I will have to try next time.  The value here was decent, and we will be back in the future. Plan B worked out pretty well for us.

Out of five pretzels, (because you can not have pretzels without salt), five being best to zero being worst, Salt Creek Grille gets 3 solid pretzels.

For more information on Salt Creek Grille click here:

Salt Creek Grille on Urbanspoon


  1. Thousand of guests have enjoyed the food and gracious service of Salt Creek Grille staff.

    cacciatore caffe

  2. Sean - I agree with you about the service. They were very compitent and kept the meal moving. Thanks for the comment.

  3. They have a happy hour special that my mom and I go to all the time that is a good deal and extremely tasty.
    Plus I your blog is bomb.

    -Dane Breslin

  4. Dane - Thanks for the heads up on the happy hour specials, and thanks for the comment.