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“Pretty place, but it's all show and no substance underneath.”
Review of Salt Creek Grille

Salt Creek Grille
Ranked #12 of 146 Restaurants in Dana Point
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $15 - $40
Cuisines: American, Seafood
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: Crown Valley Pkwy
Description: Our culinary approach follows the time-honored tradition of grilling meats over hot, mesquite embers. With a dedication to sourcing responsibly, the food at Salt Creek Grille is crafted with the freshest meats, poultry, fish, and produce available. Enjoy our handcrafted menu items paired with unique wines from boutique vineyards and well-known cellars, catering to both the connoisseur and casual diner.
Reviewed April 6, 2011

I'm guessing that this place started out great, but it seems like no one is really paying attention to the details any more and they are slipping in several areas as a result. We tried it because it looked very upscale and attractive from the street. However, we soon found that the place was all show and no substance.

The "show" is a nice fireplace outdoors where you can sit while waiting for a table, a pretty patio seating area and an attempt to "classy up the place" with mandatory but complimentary valet parking.

The substance should have been great food and service. But this is where they fell flat. We were seated by one server who took a drink and appetizer order and told us the other server would take our order shortly. The drinks came. The bread came. The appetizer came. We ate the appetizer. We drank the drinks. We ate the bread. And despite our menus being placed so they were quite obviously hanging off the end of the table and into the aisle, no waitress ever came to take our order (or refill our water/beverages.) We got bored and finally flagged down another server and asked him to get our waitress for us. Neither did the first server, so if he was supposed to be training or supervising her, he was doing a lousy job.

She was obviously very new and nervous so we decided to cut her some slack. But she knew nothing about the menu, couldn't answer a single one of our questions and at one point even leaned way over my husband and his menu, pointing with her finger trying to find the description of the entree he had asked a question about, hoping to find the answer there. (If it was there, we wouldn't have needed to ask, now, would we?) The fact that she didn't even know where to look on the menu to find the entree screamed that she wasn't ready to be doing this on her own yet.

Service went downhill from there with mistake after mistake, and though she was trying, it was just obvious that she was very young and had never worked in a restaurant before and had received entirely inadequate training here. We felt sorry for her as she awkwardly asked odd questions like "Do you want more, ummm, what was that?" (pointing to my water glass.) "Water." "Oh. So would you like some more?"

Later she at least recognized a wine glass was a wine glass and asked my husband if he wanted more wine. However, since we had ordered a bottle, it was sitting right there on the table still 3/4 full. So he said "no." At that, she cleared his wine glass from the table. So he was effectively "cut off" after one glass. Whatever. We just rolled our eyes at this point.

Dinner came out and we hoped the food would make up for the rookie service. Unfortunately, the portions were rather stingy, the steak was done unevenly - good on one side, overcooked on the other. And I wanted a little soy sauce to punch up my salmon and rice but of course our server NEVER managed to come by for a check-back. So I did without. No manager ever came by to see how things were going.

The dessert that came with my price fixe meal was right in line with the "all show and no substance" theme of the evening. It looked fabulous with whipped cream, strawberries and chocolate sauce artfully arranged on a slice of what appeared to be a flourless chocolate cake slice. But, while the toppings were delicious, the cake was not a rich flourless version but rather an extremely dry and bland concoction I can only describe as a prop to hold up the toppings. Seriously bad. If I made it at home, I would have thrown it and the recipe for it right in the trash. Needless to say, we only ate the toppings and went across the street to the grocery store's bakery case for dessert.

Now I understand that restaurants have to train new staff members and I am not averse to having a newbie wait on me. But to throw this poor kid out onto the floor with obviously inadequate training and supervision when diners are dropping $100 for dinner for two suggests that management no longer cares about quality or service. Heck, the chocolate sawdust cake shows they don't taste anything going out the door. With so many other choices nearby, I'd skip this one. We won't be back.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
1  Thank katimac
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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272 - 276 of 296 reviews

Reviewed November 3, 2010

Service was great. Good ambience. Slider appetizer and the bacon wrapped stuffed shrimp were excellent. Our entrees were good, but were outshined by the appetizers. If I go back, it'll be for drinks and appetizers.

Thank caocgal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 17, 2010

....we were just settling down to our meal, when some flakey English guy came over and started yakking on about a whole load of baloney. Man, what a jerk! The meal sure was great though!

Mike, Lindsey + Gwenyth and Doug.

Thank MikeLindseyCa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 20, 2010

Great venue. Lovely outside although we ate in.
We opted for the Prime Rib Special, 3 courses for only $28
My husband House Salad which was good and I had Lobster Bisque which was abslutely wonderful. It was a lovely thick consistency and had a great depth of flavour.
We both had a wonderful prime rib of steak which was very good. I would have like a little more fat on it just to make it into excellent.
I was stuffed and couldn't squeeze in the chocolate cake!
Great value food in lovely surroundings.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
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    • Food
Thank Lexidove
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 19, 2010

Food is bland, not very creative. Service is just average, not very professional.
You would expect better from a place in this neighborhood. It reminds more of a holiday inn coffee shop.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Unterwegs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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