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Originally published May 8, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 8, 2009 at 9:46 AM

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Restaurant review

Fall City Roadhouse is classic Americana, done with style

Restaurant Review: Fall City Roadhouse, a beautifully restored restaurant in a gracious, century-old building along the Snoqualmie River, is minutes from I-90 and ideal for families, day-trippers or hungry locals. 2 ½-star review by Providence Cicero.

Special to The Seattle Times

Sample menu

Goat cheese and beet salad $8.95
Roadhouse Reuben $9.95
Mac and Cheese $12.95
Meatloaf $13.95
Naughty Nellie New York Steak $26.95

Fall City Roadhouse2.5 stars

American/Eclectic

4200 Preston Fall City Road S.E., Fall City

425-222-4800

www.fcroadhouse.com

Reservations: Accepted.

Hours: Dinner 5-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 5-10 p.m. Fridays-Sundays; lunch 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, noon-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; breakfast 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Prices: $$/$$$ (Small plates $3.95-$8.95; sandwiches/salads $7.95-$12.95; entrees $13.95-$26.95.)

Drinks: Full bar; specialty cocktails; short local wine list.

Parking: Free in lot.

Sound: Comfortable for conversation.

Who should go: Ideal for families and large groups, day-trippers or hungry locals hankering for a big breakfast or classic Americana done with style.

Credit cards: All major cards.

Access: No obstacles to access.

Once upon a time in America, "the Roadhouse" was where you went for an evening of racy, rowdy fun. But the new and beautifully restored Fall City Roadhouse is more of a G-rated attraction.

The cars in the parking lot are telling: a minivan next to a Maserati; a shiny red Jeep 4x4 next to a well-worn Honda Civic. You can prime your honey for some hanky-panky with a few well-made cocktails, but it's also a safe place to dispatch the sitter with the kids.

Inside one Saturday night, the bar and lounge were underused, even with three TVs tuned to the Mariners game. Most folks preferred the dining room's floral-cushioned booths. One sheltered a threesome: two guys and a gal living large with amaretto-sweetened Manhattans and "Naughty Nellie" New York strips (named for a local cheese melting into the char).

Two women dined tête-à-tête, one of them delicately demolishing a bowl of macaroni and cheese and its topper — a boneless chicken breast slathered in barbecue sauce and molten cheese. Her chaser of choice was a mint-laced mojito tinted pink with "passion liqueur."

Across the room it was pink Shirley Temples for a party of five — a nanny and her four charges. The woman's glance flickered longingly over glasses of wine at the next table as she sipped water with her beet, arugula and goat-cheese salad. The kids, meanwhile, had every finicky demand met: plain spaghetti, spaghetti with butter and cheese, absolutely no cheese on spaghetti with meat sauce — and chicken strips for the little iconoclast.

The fresh-faced servers are not much more than youngsters themselves. They proudly recite dinner specials from memory and pour wine as if it was Budweiser — picking up the glass and holding it at a tilt — but they know enough not to fill it to the rim.

When I mentioned that the Salt & Pepper Calamari wasn't as salt-and-peppery as we'd expected, our waiter, Dan, shared that he'd never had calamari before he came to work here under executive chef and general manager Cameon Orel.

Orel brought plenty of fancy ideas with her from her years at Yarrow Bay Beach Café. The freshly brewed iced tea has a pinch of lavender in it. The mac and cheese is sharp with Cheddar, Jack, Parmesan and boursin. Tandoori-chicken skewers and edamame hummus are among small plates available throughout the day and evening; dinner entrees include salmon in coconut curry and chicken risotto.

Halibut was among the specials, sauced with a powerful parsley- garlic purée and paired with "Peruvian" potato salad — purple potatoes and radish coins jazzed with cilantro and chili powder dressed in a sharp vinaigrette. Intriguing, but not half as memorable as the Roadhouse Reuben, the chicken-fried steak or the meatloaf: each one a classic expertly executed.

The sandwich comes on marbled rye and the meltingly tender corned beef is thick cut and fatty in a way you don't always find in these parts. The cube steak's crisp jacket doesn't wilt under peppery country gravy flecked with house-made sausage. The meatloaf is mixed with Italian sausage, making the hefty individual loaf soft and savory under its cloak of mushroom gravy. With it were mashed potatoes and tender, buttery Brussels sprouts with kale.

Those were the dishes that will bring me back to this gracious, century-old building along the Snoqualmie River just minutes from I-90 and the Falls. So will weekend breakfast. Portions are huge and choices are just as vast and varied as lunch and dinner, with no fewer than six variations on eggs Benedict, a dozen omelets and scrambles, plus pancakes, fresh biscuits, cinnamon rolls, blintzes, French toast and more.

And so will "hot chocolate cake." Baked in an Illy Caffe mug, it's topped with mini marshmallows and served with a drift of whipped cream, a bottle of warm milk- chocolate sauce and a cookie.

"I like to dump it out of the cup and mush it all together on the plate," Dan confided. Expert advice, it turned out.

Providence Cicero: providencecicero@aol.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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