Occupation: Flight Attendant
Favorite Restaurant: Pinole Creek Café
Reviewed Pinole Creek Café: Thursday, December 19, 2013
Pinole Creek Café is a small neighborhood family run restaurant in Old Town Pinole. Pinole Creek Café is actually located in an old Victorian home which Raymond and Jinny Kim converted into a restaurant over 25 years ago. As you climb the steps up to the restaurant, it feels like you are going to a friend’s house for dinner. When you enter, you are graciously greeted by a hostess, Ray Jr. or better yet by Mr. Kim himself. He always gives everyone a big hug.
Mr. Kim recommended the prix fixe menu, where for $28 you have a choice of a starter of soup or salad, an entrée selection, and a dessert selection. We all opted for the pix-fixe menu and I also ordered the Crispy Calamari for an appetizer. My Calamari came out as we got our wine. It was over-cooked and a bit chewy, but the chili aioli sort of made up for it. For our starters, I had the Caesar Salad, which was light, simple, nicely dressed and very tasty. Our entrees came out very quickly. I ordered the French Cut Pork Chops. My chops were thick cut, juicy, and tender. The portion sizes were very large…so large in fact that I took my other chop home and had it for breakfast the next morning. We finished off our meals with dessert; I had an Ice Cream Sundae.
The atmosphere was relaxed and the wait staff very pleasant. Mr. Kim was very lively, going around the restaurant talking to all of the guests and stopped by our table several times to crack a few jokes and to see how we were doing. The restaurant isn't large, and tables close, but one could hold a nice conversation with your table mates and not disturb the table next to you and vice versa. All in all, it was a wonderful and affordable dining experience.
Occupation: Landscape Designer
Favorite Restaurant: Murray Circle
Reviewed Pinole Creek Café: Friday, December 13, 2013
Complimentary starters included two Gyoza and two Potstickers served with two sauces. It was nice to have something to nibble on while we waited for our food. We both had the prix fixe meal which included three courses, an excellent value. I started with the Beet Salad with arugula, roasted beets, feta cheese, pine nuts, and grapefruit - a nice combination of fresh ingredients that didn’t really come together.
My entree was Grilled Salmon with beurre blanc sauce, broccolini and potato gratin. The salmon was fresh and perfectly cooked, but it was a very small portion. The lemony sauce was outstanding, the broccolini was fine and the potato gratin was excellent. I had a glass of Salmon Creek merlot at $7.50/glass which was drinkable. For dessert (included with the dinner) I had a traditional Hot Fudge Sundae which was fine but not exciting.
The service was excellent: we arrived early for our reservation and were seated promptly. We were seated in the atrium which looked like the place to be in the small restaurant located in an old house. Lots of holiday lights and decorations festooned the room and made the atmosphere festive.
The same family has owned the restaurant for more than twenty years in various incarnations, and it appears that many of the customers are regulars. The owner schmoozes with all the guests and hugs all the ladies. The Chef came out to say hello to everyone at one point. The friendliness of the owners helps make it feel like you are a guest in the family’s home.
Overall, it was a nice experience in a nice restaurant with good food, good value and friendly service, but not worth driving over an hour to Pinole to experience. If you live in the area, it will probably become a favorite, justifiably
Occupation: Branding Account Manager
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Shanghai House
Reviewed Pinole Creek Café: Saturday, December 21, 2013
You walk in and it's like going home for dinner. The host and his son were very nice, greeted us warmly and were very accommodating having brought in a car seat for our infant. As we ordered and waited for our food, more people came in and you could tell that many of them were regulars being greeted by the host with a hug or "nice to see you again.” Made me feel like I was at home.
I went for the prix fixed menu: Prime Rib with Clam Chowder to start and my wife ordered a Seafood Pasta dish. The clam chowder was seasoned just right and creamy with some crunchy bits of bacon. They also gave us complimentary Potstickers and Goat Cheese/Spinach Fried Dumplings. Very nice. Food came out at the pace you would expect which is great when you have a fussy little baby with you.
My Prime Rib was AWESOME. Huge cut of juicy tender prime rib seasoned and cooked medium rare to perfection, swimming in an au jus. Every bite was just as good, whether on the outside or inside of the cut. My wife's Marco Polo had huge chunks of fresh crab and shrimp, creamy sauce and baked to have a nice fluffy texture to the noodles. The green beans were cooked well and the mashed potatoes were fluffy and buttery; what you would expect from a home cooked meal. For dessert we had the Crème Brulee which had a warm crust to break through at the top and furnished beautifully with a bit of mint and some raspberries. It was nice and creamy with a full texture.
Overall, my experience was great. From the warm greetings to the fantastic food, I would definitely pay this place a visit. My assessment: solid American comfort food where you feel at home. Our meal came out to a very reasonable 73 bucks for two.