Creekside Grill 

Creekside Grill makes its home in an ugly part of Caldwell (nestled between Subway and Taco Bell) in an even uglier strip mall. Before this, I'd never stepped foot inside Creekside Grill. I knew nothing firsthand about the place except that the parking lot is always full when I drive by during the dinner hour.

My dear husband and I ventured to Creekside on a Friday night. The restaurant is accessed through an unassuming door in the strip mall's breezeway, and when we stepped inside, we found ourselves in a pleasant oasis that did not resemble its exterior at all. The walls were an earthy shade, the lighting low and the seating intimate. We were shown immediately to a booth, sans reservation—a nifty trick for a Friday night. It was a wet day, not ideal for patio dining, but we caught a glimpse of what looked like a pleasant outdoor eating area overlooking the creek. Our table was iffy as to the view—the window overlooked the enclosed breezeway and halfway through our meal, a minivan backed into the walkway and parked outside our window, apparently to unload at an adjacent establishment.

We scanned the menus—noting the impressive choices from pub fare to pasta to seafood to meat—and when our pleasant waitress came around to take our orders, DH had settled on the lamb chops (in a blackberry coulie). I went for red and dead—rib-eye steak.

We dug into a basket of piping hot sourdough bread and before we knew it, our salads arrived. We shared them for the sake of food review science, and while his mixed greens were lovely, topped with pine nuts and an orange vinaigrette, my Caesar salad was narrowly the better of the two.

Our entrees arrived just as the room was starting to fill up. My rib-eye was much bigger than I'd expected and served with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables. I'm a sucker for garlic potatoes and these didn't disappoint. The veggies, likewise, were delicious—tender but not overdone. The steak was good, too, although I felt it wanted a bit of pre-cooking seasoning, salt in particular.

When asked for a description of his lamb chops, DH tilted his head up and got that faraway look a person gets when he's thinking very hard. Finally, he pronounced them "Good." He's a man of few words, but the fact that he had no leftovers speaks for itself. His entree came with roasted red potatoes, and they, too, were quite good—based on the shard I managed to spear before he hoovered the rest of them down.

Creekside is the only fine dining restaurant in Caldwell and the varied selection of entrees covers the gap of three niche restaurants. You'd pay much more for the same thing in Boise. For that matter, Creekside costs about the same as dinner at Outback, and though I don't have a problem with the faux-Aussie chain, Creekside—from its food to its atmosphere—is infinitely better.

—Sara Beitia, contrary to the saying, does, in fact, live to eat.

Creekside Grill, 2805 Blaine St., Ste. 100, Caldwell, 455-0100. Mon-Fri: 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sat: 4-10 p.m., closed Sunday. www.creeksidegrill.com.

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