When I started posting about the Pinole restaurants, it was because queries on Chowhound about local restaurants didn't get a response.
There is no information about them online. This was just a little guide so that if someone else moves out this way, they have at least one opinion on these restaurants and a feel for what they are like.
Also, if you are at Hilltop Mall, Apian Way or perhaps on a day trip to Marine World in Vallejo, these restaurants are near the freeway and a choice to consider.
So I have been posting about the good small restaurants in the area. I have been in some joints that were not so great. I don't see any point to posting about those. At most, someone will lose a few bucks and have a mediocre lunch.
If a restaurant is pricy but not very good, I did a post. Sadly, that is the case with Pinole Creek Cafe.
If the price wasn't almost $20 for most entrees, I would have just ignored it and not posted.
I feel a bit bad about posting because this is a restaurant that is very charming and tries. It just has mediocre food and prices are out of line.
Pinole itself is frozen in time. Many of the restaurants are the same as they were 20 or 30 years ago.
Pinole Creek Cafe probably would have been considered very good 30 years ago with made to order souffles and all the basic dishes of that day. The menu is pretty simple, steaks, chops, fish, chicken and pasta.
There is a prix fix dinner (called a course dinner) for $25. It has soup or salad, most of the entrees and creme brulee or sorbet.
I chose that dinner. It started with a small half of stale sour dough. Either that or it wasn't a good variety of bread.
The clam chowder was served in a glass. If it didn't have so few clams,it would have been good. As such, I would have to say it was a good potato/bacon soup.
The salmon was overcooked and fishy. Even the pesto sauce didn't distract from the less than fresh taste.
The buttered carrots were still cold in spots. The asparagus was fine. The mashed potatoes were badly cooked russet potatoes that tasted like instant. They were not. I dipped them in the butter sauce from the fish to get some flavor.
I was told that the orange and raspberry sorbet was home made. It came in the same type of glass as the clam chowder and tasted like it was from Safeway.
The music and liquor I think summed up the food. There were the standard liquors - Smirnoff, Jack Daniels, Absolute, Beefeater, etc. All good mid range drinks, but nothing special. The type of background music was of the "Bridge over Troubled Water" variety.
You know, I could have made this a funny review at the restaurant's expense. It would have been true, but the place is too sincere and doesn't deserve that.
It is very pretty in a old Victorian House. I sat in the sun room with the lovely mirrored bar. There's a very country club feel about the restuarant. The owner knows his customers and comes out and chats with them. You can see he has a real pride in the place. He bustles about checking all the details to keep the evening running smooth.
I'm not young, but it is a place for the generation before mine. The generation of Sinatra. It seemed right that there were so many people ordering martinis. The blendor at the bar whirred quite often and it seemed right.
I am hoping I ordered wrong. Perhaps the chops, steak or souffle are the thing to order. The chicken breast didn't look great.
I am hoping someone from Pinole will speak up and tell me that I am wrong. Although this was my first visit, I have an affection for the place. I wish the food was better and I could recommend it. I can't.
They do have Sunday brunch on holidays. Other than that they are opened for lunch for a few days a week and dinner most nights. You will have to call if you decide to go. I don't plan to go back, so I forgot what the exact hours were.
Pinole Creek Cafe
2454 San Pablo Ave.