For the first time in a year, the wife and I dined out at one of the two places that Eureka considers special. I posted comments on other social media. Some of you travel and visit here. I share only so you know.
"Nancy and I had a marvelous evening out in Eureka. We visited the Grotto Wood Fired Grill on Center Street.
In their defense, they were slammed. Also bear in mind, as you read these comments, that I am a very picky critic who has eaten in Michelin starred restaurants all over the world.
We found a wonderful atmosphere and great service that made the meal delightful. Much of the food was superb.
We also discovered several things that need some attention.
First, the parking sucked. That is not the restaurant's fault. Eureka has yet to master hospitality. If they would sort out traffic control, public transportation, and parking, everyone would make more money.
My cocktail was well made, cold, and prompt. The soup, mushroom with brie, was truly wonderful. We were tempted to lick the bowls. Nancy's smoked duck with seasonal BBQ sauce (cherry) was on point and presented beautifully over greens and shoe string potatoes. My wild caught salmon on cedar plank with a garlic chive butter was perfectly cooked and seasoned. I enjoyed every bite!
The things that needed work: The menu was uninspired. The wine list was less than ordinary - mediocre California wines, with a smattering of mid-level French. No Australian, cheap Spanish and cheap Italian. Note: they did have good wine if you were willing to buy a $100+ bottle. The salmon had pin bones. The plates were cold, which meant the decent grilled asparagus was cold at service. The desert menu was all ooohy gooohy cakes except for the pedestrian chocolate mousse (that did come with a real whipped cream topping!) No flan, no brulee, no pot de creame, no souffle, no cuisine desserts. They need to upgrade their coffee.
Eureka Springs is a SMALL tourist town that attracts primarily cheap tourists unwilling to money. Fine dining is extremely difficult to do in that circumstance. Grotto does a great job of trying to serve a fine dining meal under difficult circumstances. With a bit more attention to detail they could become some place I will give an unqualified recommendation."