This afternoon Cowbot and I had lunch at Copper River Grill in the Columbiana Mall complex. What looked to be the usual yuppified chain experience offered a few surprises that guarantee we'll return.
The concept is "Alaskan Lodge American Cuisine", the usual apps, salads, grilled fish, meat and chicken, and pastas.
Cowbot started with the she-crab soup. I'm not sure of the provenance of the crabs, and, since we were a little late in the lunch service, it appeared the soup had sat on the steam table a bit long, so it was thicker than strictly necessary. The sherry flavoring and coral color it reminded me of lobster bisque. It was tasty, but they could easily have thinned it with a little stock or milk. Copbot was mildly irked that it was sprinkled with parsley rather than the paprika he usually associates with she-crab soup, but that's a minor quibble.
I wanted a burger, but when I asked the waiter if I could get it rare or medium rare, he told me they only do burgers well done. We live in a sad world, so I moved on to the Blackened Tuna Filet Sandwich. The waiter assured me the kitchen would cook it rare. I'm curious why they will serve the tuna rare but not the ground beef, but didn't push my luck. The fish was a steak (not a filet) and covered with some sort of spice rub that didn't, in my view, add to the fish. The veggies were fresh, but I had to ask for the tartar sauce promised by the menu. The "thick cut fries" were clearly delivered by the Sysco truck. More on the tuna in a moment.
Cowbot ordered the Hickory Fired Salmon. It came on a small hickory plank, covered with the usual goopy, too-sweet teriyaki-style sauce.
But here's the thing: The fish was GREAT. Both the salmon and the tuna were high-quality, beautifully cut portions of fresh fish. The tuna was about a 6 ounce portion, and the salmon filet portion was 12 ounces if it was a gram. And both were cooked perfectly -- the tuna was just seared and the salmon was cooked all the way through -- but only just -- still moist and meaty.
Cowbot's baked potato was another pleasant surprise -- devoid of a foil wrapper, or any clue that it had ever been foil-wrapped, it was fluffy and tasty, seasoned only with butter as ordered.
We didn't sample any of the "Table-Size Desserts", nor did we have any alcohol. The bill, including tax and tip was $35.00
As we left we saw a pizza on another table that looked great. They have a brick oven for their pizzas and I will try one when I visit next time.
So Copper River Grill strikes me as a place worth visiting, especially if you know the menu and know how to order. Another time, I'd order the salmon without the glaze and the tuna without the rub. As newly-arrived South Carolinians, we're just beginning to explore what our new area has to offer, and we'll visit Copper River Grill again.
Copper River Grill
1230 Bower Pkwy Ste B8, Columbia, SC 29212