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An Easy Hole in One at the River Rock Grill

View, Brew and New American Cuisine at the River Rock Grill

This is by all means an American grill goes Northwest, from the river stone fireplace, the blond cathedral ceilings, to the expansive view of golf greens which also happen to be a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. On a rainy Saturday afternoon, the Grill was quiet enough to hear the senior citizens munching on their oyster crackers, although the parking lot was packed with wedding-goers using the Maplewood Greens banquet facilities.

The menu is mostly American with a few Pacific Rim culinary nods, such as Kalbi Short Ribs ($8.99) and Chicken Satay Skewers with Dan Dan sauce ($8.29).  Next time I’m back I need to check those tiems out. But on a drizzly day, I found myself intrigued with the possibility of a tropical taste of Cuba in Renton! 

Rarely do you see a Cuban Pressed Sandwich ($8.79) on a Northwest menu, so I went the adventurous route. The Cuban Sandwich first emerged in South Florida circa 1930, as U.S. cafes began to cater to immigrants. This particular sandwich evolved as a way to feed Cuban sugar mill workers and were sold on the street during lunch breaks. 

When it comes to traditional Cuban sandwiches, the list of authentic qualifications is vast, as I found out after researching. In River Rock’s favor, there was ham, thin slices of roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard—all essential elements. Truthfully, the roll disappointed me. It looked like the kitchen took two hamburger buns and flipped them over, layered the sandwich fixings and then put this menagerie briefly under a Salamander to melt the cheese. However, this is apparently quite a popular menu item, so maybe we’re getting into culinary semantics. I paid an additional $1.25 to get a Caesar salad instead of fries and got a hefty plate of seemingly hand-chopped crisp romaine, not overly dressed, some mediocre croutons, and plenty of Parmesan. 

My husband went with the Bronzed Salmon Sandwich ($10.29) and added a cup of New England Clam Chowder for $1.25 instead of fries. The chowder was close to institutionally-thick, but creamy with sizable potato cubes, sweet clam meat, and the occasional grit of sand I got makes me hope they lived up to their word of “homemade” on the menu. The slab of spice-’bronzed’ salmon perched on Sourdough was fairly generous and tender, topped with skillet-softened red onions, and topped with a cucumber basil aioli. 

As for calling themselves an Alehouse, there is a decent selection of brews from which to choose. Currently they have 12 ales on tap, 10 by the bottle, and 8 can offerings. A pint of Sam Adams Pilsner draft was a bargain at $3, and my Widmer Hefeweizen draft went for $4.50.

All in all, I’m not ready to give a big thumbs down or thumbs up to the River Rock Grill. The service is amiable, young, yet professional. It’s an easy bet with a green view and a comfortable  air. Tax, lunch & two pints before tip was a reasonable $32—not fast food prices, but better for you and your community. A scenically pleasing spot to stop and lunch alongside the Cedar River Trail

River Rock Grill will also be hosting a special Reservation Only All-You-Can-Eat Easter Brunch on Sunday, April 24th served from 10:00am-2:30pm:

Adults $29.99
Seniors (60 +) $24.99
Kids 6-12 $14.99
Kids 5 and under are FREE!

RiverRock Grill & Ale House

4050 Maple Valley Hwy, Renton, WA. (425) 430-0311

Alex March 31, 2011 at 09:57 PM
When I saw your Tweet earlier this week inquiring about Cuban pressed sandwiches, Catherine, I thought you were finally reviewing @BistroBox. I'll be waiting for your insight on to their version, which is served Tuesdays.
Catherine Reynolds April 01, 2011 at 12:28 AM
Ooo thanks for that tip, Alex! Can't tell you where I'm going this week, but I'm going out with a large gang of wine folks tonight.

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