There are some places you never frequent because they are just too out of your normal day-to-day operations. I call that place Rocky River, Ohio. When we received the invitation for Hans’s father’s birthday celebration, I was excited to see the dinner portion would be held at a restaurant I hadn’t visited before: Salmon Dave’s Pacific Grille.
From their website: Salmon Dave’s Pacific Grille seems right at home perched on a ledge overlooking the Rocky River. True to its namesake, overnight flights from Yukon day boats provide for the freshest wild Alaskan salmon in town. An exotic martini to chill the Pacific-rim influence of the food – the perfect way to help us celebrate our tenth anniversary.
As we had a reservation for a large amount of people (approx. 15 people), I was surprised to be seated at a group of four/five tops in their dining room. While the tables were next to each other, it took a bit of joy away from our family celebration. I suppose I should have expected it instead of assumed such a large group would be at one table. The birthday man didn’t seem to mind, so I let it go. Our servers worked our group of tables quickly and had our drink orders to us in the same manner.
With my gluten issues, dining out can be tricky for all parties involved – restaurant staff included. Salmon Dave’s made my day when the waiter brought out a color-coded “allergies” version of their dinner menu, indicating what types of foods – nuts, diary, gluten, seafood, MSG – were in each dish. I was so insanely happy to really have choices without having to harass our server about asking the chef on what I could eat. BIG POINTS are being given here. Also, the server gave sage advice on what sides to have with each entree. With this great attention to detail, we placed our orders for starters and entrees without any hassle.
Starters around table included the Wedge salad to start, with smoked bacon, egg, red onion, and thousand island dressing; the grilled chicken Caesar salad with romaine hearts, black olives, sourdough croutons; and the lobster bisque described as Dave’s incredibly rich & delicious award-winning recipe. As my fellow diners highly enjoyed these selections, Hans was going to town on the bread basket. The restaurant served a warm ciabatta bread that smelled and looked amazing. Hans confirmed that it was and requested another basket for his fellow diners. (The man is a bottomless pit!)
Our entrees came out just as my fellow diners were finishing their starters. Other entrees included the char-grilled center cut filet mignon with roasted garlic mashers, steamed asparagus, and demi-glace sauce; and the cedar-planked salmon, baked with lemon dill butter and served with whipped idahos and broccoli florets. I was impressed with the presentation of both dishes.
Both Hans and his uncle ordered THE MAINE EVENT: a whole Maine lobster, a grilled half chicken, half a dozen steamed clams, redskin potatoes and roasted corn on the cob.
Salmon Dave’s takes great pride in The Maine Event as it’s probably their most well-known menu item. (They have a large sign on the side of their building advertising it!) Since we were there on a Sunday, the restaurant gave the diner a deal by giving a $15 discount on the meal. More bonus points! Hans decided to stick with the 1.25 pound lobster in the picture, but his uncle upgraded his meal to include a full pound lobster tail. Both dishes made quite the impression as they were sat in front of the men. Let’s break down that plate of food, shall we?
- the whole Maine lobster: Perfectly cooked, I practically had to beg Hans for a single bite! He said this lobster was just as good – if not better – than some of the lobsters he had on our recent trip to Boston. Hans’ uncle highly enjoyed his lobster tail, saying that the tail was “succulent” and worth the extra cash.
- the grilled half chicken: Well seasoned, this was a nice protein compliment to the lobster selection.
- the redskin potatoes: Pan-fried, they were crisp on the edges but the perfect level of al dente on the inside. I really liked them: I had to remember not to steal all of them from Hans plate!
- the roasted corn on the cob: Hans said this corn on the cob was a lot better than the ones he had in Boston. (Well of course, we do live in corn country!) I didn’t taste this, but he really enjoyed the side.
- the half a dozen steamed clams: Here was the only downfall to this dish. While the clams tasted fine, they were really gritty. Off-putting even. Hans’ uncle agreed with me and none of us finished that portion of the meal.
For myself, I ordered the Catch of the Day: a pan roasted halibut with sides of herb-roasted yukon golds and steamed jumbo asparagus.
Yeah, that’s not steamed jumbo asparagus. That would be steamed broccoli. And I know I should have said something, but it wasn’t a huge deal to me. In fact, as I watched other plates come out of the kitchen, I said to myself, “hmmm I should have ordered broccoli instead of the asparagus.” I think the veggie gods were smiling down upon me. The steamed broccoli was very simply done and very lightly seasoned – a fine selection for those looking for that healthier choice.
As for the part of the plate that I DID order: the yukon golds potatoes – also pan-fried – were delicious, although a few were on the crispy/not edible side. Of course, the star of the plate was the halibut. I took the server’s suggestion and had it prepared pan-roasted, which was an excellent recommendation. The fish flaked apart nicely while avoiding any state of dryness. By the end of the meal, I came to realized their chefs have a fantastic hand with the seasonings. Nothing was overdone, or under-whelmed. This was probably the best halibut I’ve ever eaten. I was incredibly happy with my entree that evening and overall my fellow diners agreed with me about their selections as well.
The restaurant surprised my father-in-law with a birthday crème brûlée, but without the obnoxious singing presentation, with a simple, single birthday candle. My FIL was grateful for this gesture and enjoyed the dessert immensely.
LONG STORY SHORT: While it may have started of awkwardly with our seating arrangement, we ended up having a lovely meal at Salmon Dave’s that Sunday evening. Quality ingredients were prepared simply but with tons of flavor – you really can’t beat that combination. While I’m not a Rocky River girl, I might have to make an exception and head out to that side of town more often when looking for a solid, yet relaxed seafood dinner experience.