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Iconic American dishes at Taprock Northwest Grill

Taprock Northwest Grill is following the trend of using local ingredients wherever possible while still serving up fairly traditional American food.

After dining there recently with my family, I felt like I had eaten at the house of a grandmother who is a particularly good cook.

The lodge-style restaurant, at 971 S.E. Sixth St., Grants Pass, offers views of the Rogue River and is filled with paintings and sculptures of wildlife, including blue herons, black bears, foxes, cougar and elk.

My husband and I ordered off The Rancher's Table section of the menu. Entrees there come with a choice of soup or salad, cooked vegetables and a choice of a Taprock signature side — bacon cheddar potato pancakes, baked potato, creamed spinach, garlic-infused rice, cheesy zucchini gratin or Parmesan and sour cream Yukon Gold mashed potatoes.

From past experience, we knew to order Taprock's mashed potatoes, which take the popular American side dish to a whole new level of creamy deliciousness.

My salad came with Romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded carrots, black olives and chunky blue cheese dressing.

For my entree, I chose rosemary chicken breast ($13.99), which was described on the menu as a boneless chicken breast lightly dusted with seasoned flour, rosemary and garlic, then grilled and sprinkled with fresh chives. I would rename it "garlic chicken breast" because of the strong and flavorful garlic. The thin chicken breast wasn't overly breaded or greasy, but still had an old-fashioned comfort food taste.

The side vegetables were stir-fried zucchini, red bell pepper and onion. The mashed potatoes, as always, stole the show.

My husband ordered Oregon Trail Steak, which came with two hearty, crispy onion rings atop it, vegetables and the mashed potatoes in their own bowl so they wouldn't soak up the blood from the steak. Although he ordered the steak well done, it came out still red in the middle.

Optional butter on the steak gave it a creamy, slightly sweet and extra rich taste. As for the portion size, my husband said a steak lover with a big appetite would probably wish for more.

Our kids shared a smokehouse bacon burger with Tillamook sharp cheddar ($12.49) off Taprock's Mountain High Burgers menu section, and the burger was indeed tall. Taprock's burgers are made with grain-fed beef from Northwest ranches and a choice of sides, including endless Idaho fries. The bacon comes from Daily's Premium Meats in Montana.

Our server brought two plates for the kids without us having to ask, and because the fries were endless, we also quickly put in an order for a second round of fries. Splitting the burger and fries worked for my kids, because my daughter usually eats only half a burger, and my son leaves behind most of his fries at other restaurants.

Taprock has salads with Northwest ingredients, including Oregon hazelnuts, Washington apples, Rogue Creamery blue cheese and Dungeness crab from off the West Coast. Prices range from $10.99 to $15.99.

Seafood and artisan sandwiches further the theme of American-style food.

On the slightly more adventurous side, Taprock offers tacos ($13.99 to $15.99) with a choice of meats and shredded cabbage, cilantro, green onion, chipotle mayonnaise, cilantro lime sour cream, carrots and guacamole. The tacos come with rice, beans, salsa and lime. The restaurant also has a few Italian-style pasta choices with chicken or seafood and Alfredo sauce or pesto ($16.99 to $21.99.)

A variety of Northwest beers are on tap, and the restaurant has a range of wine, liquor and cocktails.

For information, call 541-955-5998 or see www.taprock.com.

The Oregon Trail Steak, with onion rings, mixed vegetables and Parmesan and sour cream mashed potatoes at Taprock in Grants Pass. Mail Tribune / Vickie Aldous