This review almost didn't happen. But I am absolutely delighted it did, or I really would have missed out. I say that because just over a month ago, on Valentine's Day, my sister, mom and I attempted to try the Steelhead Diner but were rebuffed by a very, very rude hostess. We knew that trying to go somewhere on Valentine's Day without a reservation was ridiculous, so we called ahead to Steelhead to see if it was even worth it to come downtown and try and snag table. They said they were sure there would be cancellations and that we should come in and they were certain they would be able to find us a spot. Well, apparently no one told the hostess since when my mother and sister came in while I parked the car, the hostess acted appalled and annoyed that they even dare inconvience her with our ridiculous request. We left and our interest in returning with a reservation was not as strong as it might be. Let's just said it slid down the priority list.
Last week when trying to decide where to make reservations for dinner for this Wednesday, Steelhead popped up in my head and the cuisine was sounding appealing to both my mother and I. And we definitely made the right decision. From the moment we walked in our experience was completely different. We were whisked to our table by a kind and attentive young man and our waitress was right around with drink menus. My mom got her standard Crown Royal on the rocks in a bucket and I contemplated their extensive specialty drinks menu before deciding on my usual, a Manhattan, and I got it with Bookers. The dining room itself in beautiful and filled with light. There are huge (and highly coveted) window tables that look out at the view above. We were talked towards the Post Alley end, albeit still near windows. We didn't really notice anyways as we burrowed down quickly into conversation. Like I am about my sister, I am excited that my mom has gotten more into food and restaurant reviews. It is fun to hear their commentary and enjoy food with them in a way that is relatively new for us.
As we perused the menus which double as our placemats, we found ourselves fiending over several dishes and quite indecisive. Our waitress came back around and we inquired with her about her favorites. My mom had narrowed it down to either the Wagu Beef Burger or the Fish and Chips, and I was thinking the Neah Bay Black Cod, as well as salads. The waitress highly recommended the Hills Farm All Natural Pork Chop with Sauerkraut, Steamed Potatoes, Smoky Bacon and Stone Ground Mustard Infused Demi-Glace for a meat dish and the Kasu Marinated Neah Bay Black Cod for seafood. Sold! My mom abandoned her burger or fish/chips and went with the Pork as well as the House Salad with has Baby Iceberg Head Lettuce with Crispy Bacon, Avocado, Red Onion, Boiled Egg, Crumbled Blue Cheese & Lorenzo Dressing and I went with the Cod as well as a Baby Spinach & Moro Blood Orange Salad with Frisee, Toasted Sunflower seeds and Pink Peppercorn Vinaigrette.
My mom snacked on the bread basket, commenting how fresh and delicious it was, even pausing to have me smell the cheese bread with fresh butter. It smelled amazing. I am off wheat and dairy for a while trying to figure out some health issues, but the bread smelled almost good enough to be worth the massive digestive pain I would suffer.
Our salads came soon enough and the portions would not leave this hungry girl wanting. The House Salad was a artfully arranged and my mom said that the ingredients really popped and you could tell they were of the highest quality, flavorful and working well together. My salad was equally amazing. I really like a vinegary dressing and the Peppercorn Vinaigrette really fit the bill. There was an interesting play between the blood oranges, the plum and juicy (dried) cranberries and walnuts. It was simple, yet delightful. That is to say, I took notice of my salad and salad is definitely something that generally tends to be just ok. Good, but not profound. With a prelude like our salads, we were excited for our main courses to arrive.
Even though I had made corned beef with sauerkraut the night before and thus worried that my mom's dish might taste a bit redundant at this point, with one bite of her dish, I completely forgot all about my own meal the night before. The pork was tender and perfectly cooked, juicy and flavorful. The potatoes were simple and played well in the demi-glace and the housemade sauerkraut. I had one forkful of the combination and was in bliss. I was surprised by how light the dish actually tasted. I had expected the combination to be heavy or at least very hearty but it was pulled off brilliantly, walking a very fine line. As for my Black Cod, it certainly delivered. As the waitress had said, it simply melted in your mouth and the Kasu marinade was flavorful, complex and salty, just like I like. It was offset perfectly with the very fresh and light carrot-ginger salad and baby bok choy. We cleaned our plates and we perfectly satisfied. There are plenty of heavy dishes on the menu which I am sure we could have glutted (and delighted) ourselves with such as the Poutine. The menu is ever changing with the seasons and what is available locally and I am excited to go back and try many more of their delicious selections. I am really glad that we didn't get too put off by our first go and I know that this is definitely my new go-to restaurant (I feel like I say that alot, but I keep being delighted and impressed!) for both out of town guests as well as locals who want to meet up for a great meal, drinks and a view. An excellent experience, I highly recommend it.