Sneaky Oregon Coast Restaurant Reviews: Lincoln City's Kernville Steak and Seafood
By Secret Reviewer #2
(Lincoln City, Oregon) - Three and A Half Stars Out of Five. Just south of Lincoln City, between Taft and Gleneden Beach, you’ll find a slightly off the beaten path treasure called Kernville Steak and Seafood House, where exceptional food rules in the comfort food vein and the atmosphere is somewhere between the upscale yet dreamy and relaxed. Scores of innovative metallic fish art adorn the deep brown wooden walls, often lit up in intriguing ways. And there’s a wondrous view of the Siletz River, which is calming and lovely any time of year.
There’s a bit of history here, too. This building sits in the spot where another once stood back in the 70's - one which was used for the filming of the movie “Once a Great Notion.”
The comfort foods here have a decidedly upscale slant, sometimes executed better than others, but altogether quite delicious, and a good value for the bucks you shell out. Portions are plentiful, service is fairly efficient (though a bit slow sometimes), and the surroundings are definitely lovely, with a view that’s perhaps among the best on the coast without being an ocean view.
My meal - their legendary chicken cordon bleu - began with some homemade bread, an introduction upon which you can often judge the experience to come at most restaurants. What happens here, when it comes to the quality of butter and the bread itself, is so many times telling of the rest of the eating. Luckily, the Kernville excels here. It doesn’t hurt I’m starving off my ass, so I may like just about anything now. But I don’t think I’m easily impressed here. The bread is a well-done, freshly baked delight, with yum-o-licious butter (probably the real stuff) waiting to grace it.
Then comes the chowder. It’s soft yet peppery, with a dab of paprika. There are hints of carrots. It’s deliciously unfishy, creamy and no aftertaste to muck things up. Light as a cloud, it is thoroughly satisfying, yet it leaves you wanting more.
Eventually comes the cordon bleu.
A small mound of rice is done well, just the right space between soft and hard. To spice things up, there’s a small hint of jalapenos, creating a pleasant surprise and jolt.
The alfredo sauce is like a fine, imported cheese, melted gracefully over the dish, and damned good.
The cordon bleu itself is, well: wow. Covered in a thick layer of Parmesan and crumbs, there’s almost a pizza vibe as you initially bite into it, with the cheeses and the crust providing this interesting effect. The Swiss blends wonderfully with the alfredo, with its depth, a tiny tang and a fine Euro vibe.
The inside chicken is insanely juicy, providing a lovely balance to the hard crust on the outside. It’s infused with many herbs, and together with the parm crust, the rice and the cheese blends, it all makes for a vivid combo of tastes.
As for the veggies: they are a nice touch of the naked. They’re pretty natural, with a very fresh vibe and only a bit of butter adorning their gloriously nude, untouched little tidbits. Often, restaurants do strange things to their veggies in vain attempts to make them more interesting and fun, and the poor greeneries crash and burn with a disturbing culinary rancor. Sometimes, as at the Kernville, less is more delicious.
On another visit, I indulged in the smoked salmon fettuccine, a silky, creamy, striking creation – although it’s a bit heavy-handed and thus not as good as the chicken cordon bleu. There’s something a bit bulky about this dish, with perhaps too many prominent, powerful tastes involved. But it is still quite good, nonetheless.
There are hints of mustard with the capers, which is perhaps a bit too much, and possibly part of the problem. Then it is piled on with little tomato slices, as well as sizable chunks of onions, yellow peppers and garlic.
The salmon are fairly light and smooth in their smoky flavor, but also not quite light enough, preventing it from becoming an exceptional dish. Altogether, this quite a powerful mouthful: enjoyable, well done, and creative, but possibly not rising to the level of the Kernville’s usual high bar of delirium. Still, this is all nitpicking and I can still only recommend this dish as well.
There are a lot of seafoods, steaks and pastas on the menu, along with chicken dishes as well. The menu states that if you don’t see something you want, they may still have it – and they urge you to ask.
Steaks are around $20 to $40. Most pasta dishes are in the $15 vicinity. Oysters are local, and these and other big seafood dishes are market price. Things like pork chops, ribs, crabcakes and the chicken cordon bleu are around $15 to $20.
The bar downstairs is a nice one, and it’s actually where I prefer to dine. They have live music on the weekends, which can bring in the throngs. Kernville Steak & Seafood House. 186 Siletz Highway. Lincoln City, Oregon. (541) 994-6200. www.kernvillesteakhouse.com
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