Restaurant Reviews

Steppin’ Out – Morty’s Grill, Camino

I have been meaning to stop by Morty’s Grill in Camino for some time, but when I would get a chance it was a Monday or Tuesday, when they are closed.

Last Saturday I decided to stop by High Hill Ranch and try one or more of their donuts, specifically the new one made with blueberries. I am going to give the place a bit more attention in a couple of weeks, but I did try the Blueberry Crumb donut and thought it was a bit light on flavor.

I mentioned that to Jerry Visman, part of the four generations of George Visman’s family that own and run the place. He looked down at me and said, “That is because they are made with real blueberries, not some kind of blueberry syrup or artificial flavoring.” He is right.

With the rest of my donut saved for dessert, from there I drove less than a mile to Morty’s Grill, which is next to Gold Harvest Market – 76, in the place where Crystal Basin Bistro was located.

Morty’s serves burgers, dogs, sandwiches and more, and is known as the “Home of the Morty Burger.”

Craig Morton (“Morty”) was there loading up his food truck for a trip to a location on nearby North Canyon Road. I talked with him for a short time and then went in to check out the restaurant and order something for lunch.

The first thing I noticed was that the place was very, very clean and neat. Sure, they had only been open less than an hour, but I noticed as I ate my meal that they kept it that way.

As Craig and others walked in an out carrying items to the food truck, I talked with Brogan, who was working the counter. I don’t know why I said this, maybe out of habit, but I asked what they felt was their best burger. Of course, it was their signature “Morty Burger.”

The Morty Burger starts with two one-third hand formed char broiled patties topped with pepper jack, cheese, Cheddar cheese, a fried egg, bacon and pastrami all served on a toasted sesame seed bun. It is so large they serve it with a knife stuck through it to keep it together.

Craig mentioned that it was also available with only one patty if I thought two was too much, but after thinking about it for a minute, I went instead for the Pastrami Burger, the same kind of burger that I have tried at several restaurants. It is sort of my “comparison” burger.

Had someone been with me that day, I would have ordered a Morty and a simple cheeseburger to split and share. But, alas, I was alone.

Their Pastrami Burger has one patty, topped with Provolone cheese, pastrami and horseradish mustard, served on a grilled sesame seed.
As I have mentioned before, I am not a fan of meat and cheese only burgers, so I asked if they could add some lettuce, red onions and tomato, which Craig said they would, as he personally fixed my burger.

I know, I should stick to their recipe, but I feel better if there are some kind of vegetables in my burger. I think it covers up my “fatty meal” guilt.

It was hot, it was large (splitably large) and it was good, although the pastrami, of which there was a lot, was very lean. I think it would benefit from pickles, which they will add, and they have a list of several sauces that can also be added to their sandwiches or used as a dip for fries, for a little extra. Oh, like with all their sandwiches, there was a delicious dill pickle spear on the side.

Their menu starts with their Classic Burgers, single or double, to which you can add, for just a bit more, any of several cheeses, bacon, avocado or a fried egg.

Then there are the Speciality Burgers: the Morty, Pastrami, Ranch Hand (Cheddar cheese, bacon, onion rings and barbecue sauce), Smokehouse (Cheddar cheese and sweet mesquite sauce) and Dynamite (pepper jack and Sriracha sauce). Like the Classic Burgers, the last two in the list include lettuce, tomato and red onion.

The list titled Sandwiches includes a Tri-Tip, the El Dorado (hot pastrami, hot turkey, bacon, choice of cheese, mayo and mustard), Hot Pastrami (hot pastrami, Provolone cheese and horseradish mustard), Chr-Broiled Chicken (grilled chicken breast, mayo and mustard) and the Classic Turkey, made with oven roasted turkey, choice of cheese, mayo and mustard.

Salads include a classic Caesar Salad and a Garden Salad, made with mixed greens and a variety of vegetables, topped with toasted croutons and served with your choice of dressing on the side.

Listed under Dogs & Chicken are a Polish Club, Pastrami Dog, one-quarter pound All-Beef Polish Dog, an All-Beef Hot Dog along with Chicken Tenders and Fries.

The Kids Corner listings include a Hot Dog, Hamburger, Grilled Cheese or Chicken Tenders, all served with fries and a small drink.

Sides include fries, onion rings and chips and drinks include fountain drinks, iced tea, hot coffee, hot tea, wine and on-tap and bottled beer.

Morty’s Grill is located at 3590 Carson Road and open Wednesday from 11 until 3, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 until 8 and on Sunday from 11 until 3. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

For more information on Morty’s Grill or Morty’s Food Truck, call (530) 303-3098.

Oh, I liked Brogan’s comment when I ordered: “Will you be dining in?” Pure Class. No “Here or to-go” question.

Steppin’ Out – Denny’s Bigger, Bolder Burgers

Recently Denny’s restaurants, often known as “America’s Diner,” announced that they have added three new burgers to their new “Burgertown U.S.A.” menu. And, these are not just burgers, they are ‘you’re-going-to-need-two-hands-to-enjoy,’ hand-pressed 100 percent beef burgers. And, best of all, they are available morning, noon and night.

The new lineup includes the America’s Diner Cheeseburger – A burger that lives up to its name, featuring caramelized onions and classic American cheese covered with Denny’s new All-American sauce and then served on a fresh brioche bun.

The Spicy Sriracha Burger – Offering fiery flavor in every bite, this burger features Cheddar cheese, bacon, jalapeños and a creamy Sriracha sauce. Each burger is served with lettuce, tomato, red onions and pickles on a brioche bun.

Finally, the Bacon Avocado Cheeseburger – This modern favorite includes crispy bacon, fresh avocado and melted cheese and is served with mayo, lettuce, tomato, red onions and pickles on a brioche bun.

A good friend invited me to lunch at the Denny’s at 99 Fair Lane in Placerville, and I immediately said, “Yes!” How could I turn down a chance like this to taste one of these beauties.

Even though it was half past noon (figure that one out kids), it wasn’t real crowded, but was a bit understaffed.

My friend decided on the Bacon Gouda Burger, made with bacon strips, caramelized onions and shredded Italian cheeses atop a hand-pressed 100 percent beef patty, then covered with Gouda cheese sauce and served with lettuce, tomato, red onions and pickles on a brioche bun. Although you have your choice of wavy-cut fries, hash browns or seasonal fruit, she opted to pay a bit more and get the Bacon Cheddar Tots. Oh, my, was I glad she did that. They were great.

I thought about the Spicy Sriracha Burger for a moment, but the Bacon Avocado Burger drew me in and I ordered it. In an attempt to be at least somewhat healthy, I went for the Seasonal Fruit rather than fries. Next time, the tots, you bet. I walk daily and go to the gym four days a week just so I can afford a few more calories.

The burgers were both big, juicy, delicious and worthy of several napkins, which our server provided beforehand without asking. They were properly prepared and, as my friend said about hers, “Very Gouda.”

Both of us cut them before eating, which made it a bit more difficult to hold them together, but that didn’t interfere with how great they tasted. I guess if you left them whole like they came, with the large toothpick in them, you might get away with keeping them together. But, they are large burgers, so it should take two hands.

The Bacon Cheddar Tots were crisp, crunchy and very full of Cheddar flavor. Yes, I was able to get one to try, but there wasn’t an offer of a second.

If the three new burgers are not something you crave, they still have their long-time favorites like the Bacon Gouda Burger, my friend had, Bourbon Bacon Burger, Double Cheeseburger, Denny’s famous Slamburger and the Classic Burger to satisfy you.

As a perfect complement to this bold burger menu, Denny’s is also serving up an all-new creamy, hand-dipped Horchata Milk Shake made with premium horchata ice cream and topped with whipped cream, in addition to many classic shake flavors

Denny’s is one of America’s largest full-service family restaurant chains, currently operating over 1,700 franchised, licensed and company-owned restaurants across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, New Zealand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guam, the United Arab Emirates, Curaçao, El Salvador, the Philippines, Guatemala and the United Kingdom.

For more information you can call our local Denny’s, which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at (530) 626-1086. To view their menu go to www.dennys.com

No dinner for me tonight.

Steppin’ Out – Main Street Melters

About a week ago, while taking my morning walk along Big Oak Road, I was thinking about a restaurant to check out. I asked my friend, Mike Long, who, with his two dogs walks with me, if he had ever been to Main Street Melters, which is located at 589 Main Street in Placerville, which is at the corner of Main and Clay streets.

“Several times,” he instantly replied, “I always have the Reuben with extra sauerkraut and extra 1000 Island dressing.”

“I think I have been there twice,” I told him, “once when it first opened and had a different name, and then later when it had this name.”

When I got home I checked, and found out I had been there four years ago when it was Old Towne Deli, and two years ago when the name had changed to Main Street Melters. It was time to go again.

A week ago last Thursday was convenient for both of us and since we both had errands to run in town, we decided to just meet there at 11 a.m., right when they open. That turned out to be a good idea.

We were the first customers and sat at the bar inside where it was cool. Mike had one of the craft beers they have on tap, while I stuck with water and rapidly went over the menu. He had already decided on his custom made Reuben

Two sandwiches on the Grilled Sandwich part of their menu immediately caught my eye: the Beef & Bleu (roast beef, Marableu jack cheese and crispy fried onions on sliced sourdough) and the Angry Irishmen (corned beef, pastrami, hot pepper spread, cream cheese, Havarti cheese, grilled onions and jalapeños on sliced sourdough).

I decided to find out why a bunch of Irishmen were angry and ordered the latter. It turned out that it obviously wasn’t the sandwich that upset them.

Each sandwich is hand made, so it takes a bit of time (a good reason to get there early), but soon they showed up hot and all wrapped to eat there or take elsewhere.

While we had waited, I had an opportunity to talk with Nancy Stone, who with family members, Bret, Alex and Ryan, are the owners. In April of 2015 they bought the restaurant from the owner of Olde Towne Deli, Igor Khavin, and have been going strong ever since. They were all busy prepping for the day.

We both bit into our sandwiches and there was little conversation other than “yum,” “I love it,” and the such. Mine was a wonderful combination of flavors with a little bite and absolutely delicious.

Mike was loving his Reuben and mentioned that it did have the extra sauerkraut and 1000 Island dressing he had requested.

When I looked at my previous stories on my webpage – www.dougstepsout.com – I noticed it was the Reuben I had loved the last time I was there.

With half our large sandwiches gone, we decided to take the rest home for later rather than overeat and wish we hadn’t, something I should do more often. Besides, that way I didn’t have to decide what to have for dinner.

Now, the food it great, but there is something else about this restaurant that is almost as good – the view. They have outside seating on the porch and under umbrellas and a tree where you can sit and “watch the passing crowd” along that part of Main Street. As I found out last time, you can also answer questions by people who are new in town or visiting and trying to find a certain business.

It really is a great place to enjoy a great lunch, especially with the Ivy House parking lot next door.

Their menu starts out with several salads, including turkey, a Caesar and a unique, Nothing But Veggies. The “Kids Corner” lists a PB&J and a grilled cheese. Sides include Mac N Cheese, a side salad, potato salad and a bag of chips. Oh, oh, I just noticed they have a “e” on potato.

The “Grilled Sandwich” list includes sandwiches with very interesting names, most of which I am sure you can probably figure out: The Hammy, Swiss Piggy, The Jalapeno Popper, Beef & Bleu, The Avocado, Little Philly, Big Kahuna, Thanksgiving, Hot Ace (spicy), Mac N Cheese Melt, Lean On Me, Loaded Irishmen and the two we ordered, Angry Irishmen and the Reuben.

The “Massive Melters” with double meat and “hot off the grill,” include The Standard, Double Irishmen, Double Angry Irishmen, The Cali Club, The Rancher, Big Bird, Italian Hero, Double Reuben and The Philly.

“Cold Sandwiches” (your choice of bread or roll) includes the roast beef, pastrami, Bird, ham, turkey, B.L.T. and The Tuna.

They will also make you a grilled cheese sandwich on your choice of bread and any one of eight cheeses.

Finally, if you can’t find something you love on the sandwich menus, you can build your own sandwich by selecting your choice of bread, meat, cheese, condiments and veggies.

Drinks include soda, beer, wine, smoothies and more.

Main Street Melters is open daily from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

For more information give them a call at (530) 303-3871 or visit their webpage at www.mainstreetmelters.com.

Oh, they will deliver to businesses in downtown Placerville. There is a minimum order and a small delivery charge.

Oh, Mike pointed out to me that when you are eating the first half of your sandwich, turn the other half over so the bottom doesn’t get soggy.

Steppin’ Out – Iron Wok, Placerville

Just a short time ago a new Chinese restaurant called the Iron Wok opened at 545 Main Street in Placerville. But, their history doesn’t start there, it goes back many years.

A family run business, they first opened in San Francisco and then, about ten years ago, moved to Elk Grove. A search of online reviews shows that they were highly rated and very popular. In fact, there are several sad comments about their closing their Elk Grove location and being replaced by a Vietnamese restaurant. After leaving Elk Grove, the family moved to the town of El Dorado.

When the European restaurant between Bagel Works and Town Hall closed, Iron Wok took over that location and from my and my friends observations appears to be doing quite well. There is a good reason for this: the food is really good, as are the portions, and the service is excellent.

I planned to meet a friend there for lunch and arrived a bit early. While I was looking over the menu, a family group came in to eat and it turned out they had driven from Elk Grove just to have the food they loved and renew their friendship with the owners. When people go out of their way to get food that they like, that gives you a really good feeling about a restaurant.

They aren’t the only ones, by the way. Several people have commented on social media that they have made the same trip, just to have the food and reconnect with the owners.

When my friend arrived, we decided to split two of their Special Combinations, which are served all day. Each combination comes with a choice of soup, a veggie egg roll and a choice of steamed or BBQ pork fried rice.

Our selections were Cashew Chicken and Sauteed Prawns with Vegetables. My friend chose egg flower soup, I, hot and sour. We also decided to order both the steamed and pork fried rice.

As expected, the soup arrived first. The egg flower soup was delicate, delicious and fresh. The hot and sour soup was more hardy, but not overpowering in its flavor. It also was very fresh tasting.

When our main dishes arrived, they were both beautiful. Presentation is so important at a restaurant. And, there was so much food, my friend ended up taking almost half of it home.

The cashew chicken was, like the egg flower soup, delicate in its flavor. It was also full of lightly sauteed vegetables with just the right amount of crispness, a crispness also found in the cashews, which can often be soggy. The BBQ pork fried rice was very flavorful without overpowering the rest of the food, albeit a bit dry if eaten by itself, but who does that?

The sauteed shrimp with vegetables was loaded with large shrimp, perfectly cooked. We divided that dish and continued to find more shrimp hidden among the delicious vegetables as we ate. The steamed rice had that slightly sticky texture that helps me keep it together and off my lap.

To top things off, even the veggie egg roll was fresh, light and delicious, and there was that yummy sweet red sauce for dipping.
All in all it was a fantastic lunch, high above my expectations. My friend commented that it was a step above the other local Chinese restaurants.

In addition to the two dishes we ordered the Special Combinations portion of the menu includes nearly a dozen more, made with chicken, pork, beef or just vegetables. Included on this list are numerous favorites such as Beef with Broccoli, Sweet and Sour Pork, Mongolian
Beef, Kung Pao Chicken, General Chicken and more.

The regular part of the menu, which has a greater variety of dishes, starts with half a dozen appetizers and seven kinds of soup to start your meal. These are followed by seven pork dishes, sixteen chicken dishes, fourteen seafood dishes and eleven beef. There are also ten delicious sounding vegetable dishes.

To round out your meal you will find seven different kinds of fried rice, made with barbecued pork, shredded pork, beef, chicken, prawns or a mixture of several. And, if you prefer chow mein or chow fun, there are eight different kinds of those, followed by three kinds of steamed and seasoned vegetable dishes.

Iron Wok, Chinese Cuisine, is located a 545 Main Street in Placerville, and is open six days a week: Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. until 8 p.m and on Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Closed on Tuesday.

Oh, they have both inside and outside seating should you wish to enjoy watching the passing crowd.

For more information give them a call at (530) 903-3358. Or, just show up and enjoy.