Steppin’ Out – Mike’s Grill

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Mike’s Grill, the new restaurant at the corner of Pleasant Valley Road and Oak Hill Road, about three miles east of Diamond Springs.

It is on the route of my three-mile, extended morning walk, so I had watched in anticipation much of its change from a small, breakfast and lunch centered café in to a larger, seven-day-a-week restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I had planned on being there for the ribbon cutting, but it took place about an hour before I expected. I hadn’t planned on staying, but when I was introduced to the owners of the new restaurant, Mike and Vicky Fagan, Mike immediately smiled and said, “Sit down and let me fix you something.”

I sat at one of the tables in the dining room and Mike came out of the kitchen and sat across from me. We started to talk, but then Mike said “It’s a bit loud in here, let’s go into the back room,” which is their banquet and overflow area.

A lot of people who have been there comment about the fact that the room is noisy, because of its hard walls, hard ceiling and hard floor, but rest assured, they busily are working on acoustical panels and other improvements that should shortly take care of that problem.

Mike has some 36 years of experience with cooking and the food business, and loves what he does, which is very apparent when you meet him.

He has worked in of all kinds of restaurants and owned several. Their last restaurant was Mike’s Beef and Brew in Oakley, CA, which has high ratings from all the social rating services.

“I am attached to the Placerville area,” said Mike. “I spent a year at El Dorado High School when I lived with my mother in Pollock Pines. I have a brother and a niece in the area and a son in Grizzly Flat. We were thinking about another restaurant and my son noticed this location was available.

“I have something for you to try,” he said, and walked into the kitchen. He returned with some of his Cajun Fried Green Beans, which came with a ranch dressing dip. The beans were fresh and crisp, the coating was excellent and with a bit of a bite. They are not something I normally order, but I really liked them.

He then put a grilled, ribeye steak in front of me, along with some sauteed mushrooms. “We only use Angus beef for our steaks and only the top two-thirds of the USDA Choice grade,” he said. “We cut all our own steaks ourselves and are proud of our meat.”

I don’t often eat steak out, but it was very good and cooked medium-rare as requested. He cooks with a very hot fire that gives the outside a bit of a crust. The mushrooms, of course, were excellent.

Mike then excused himself while I finished my steak, as the orders were piling up in the kitchen. He has cooks, but as the restaurant has been open only a couple of weeks, likes to be in the kitchen to make sure things are running properly.

While he was gone I chatted with his wife Vicky who confirmed that he loves the business and works very hard making sure that the food goes out on time and is exactly what the customer ordered. Both she and Mike commented that customer satisfaction is very, very important to them.

When Mike returned, he brought me some French fries, commenting, “ Try some of these now and then wait a few minutes. They will stay crisp when cold.” I did try them first fresh and then after several minutes. Both times they were crisp and delicious. I was a bit amazed.

“I dust them with a combination of salt, pepper and garlic powder [and perhaps other ingredients] and people love them,” added Mike. You can put me on that list.

The menu at Mike’s Grill is very long and includes for breakfast, everything you would expect and more, like “Hearty Combo’s such as chicken fried steak and gravy, boneless pork chops, New York Steak, lots of special scrambles and omelettes and even a build your own omelette. They cook their bacon to order and ask if you want it limp, medium or crisp.

The lunch menu includes quite a list of sandwiches and salads, along with half-pound burgers (they also have smaller burgers). The burgers are fresh ground Angus chuck for the maximum “run down your hand juice.” If you are really into burgers, try Mike’s Stuffed Cheeseburger or the “Hot & Messy,” which is a classic burger topped with 1000 island dressing, jalapenos, bacon, red onion, diced dill pickle, shredded lettuce, tomato, two slices of American cheese and the topped with fried jalapeno rings.

At dinner you can choose from quite a list of steaks, along with chicken, salmon and pasta dishes. But what I like are the weekly specials (only served while they last).

On Monday nights it is all you can eat fried chicken with the fixings. On Tuesday, all you can eat spaghetti, salad and garlic bread. On Wednesday, all you can eat boneless pork chops with all the fixings.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday night they have prime rib and lobster dinners, along with barbecue platters.

Well, that is just a sampling of what is available at Mike’s Grill, and people must like the food, as when I left at 7:30 p.m. that Friday, there were only four empty chairs in the dining room.

Mike’s Grill is open seven days a week for eat in or take out. Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m., Friday from 7 until 10, Saturday from 6 until 10 and on Sunday from 6 until 9. For more information call 530-642-2347.

Oh, their bread comes from my favorite bakery, the Truckee Sourdough Bakery.

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