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Melrose Grill Stands Test of Time, for Good Reasons

Historic downtown Renton steakhouse offers upscale dining at affordable prices.

This, my fellow foodies, is the real deal, for a lot less than you’ll pay at Seattle Chop Houses. From here on out if I have out-of-town family visiting, we will be dining at the . But after an inaugural visit, I’m hoping to dine at Melrose Grill far more often than just on special occasions. 

I’ve driven by this pie-wedge of a restaurant for years, never knowing what an oasis lurked within its humble exterior. Get your meat, your seafood or your cocktail on, for far less in big city steakhouses. I’m proud to boast that such a top-notch restaurant exists in Renton. Inside the door were families, but lots of suits too, lending a cosmopolitan air.  One thing I like about Renton—anything goes. 

We arrived early, just to have chance to sit at the bar, a gorgeous original relic brought from the Yukon gold rush to Renton by Englishman Ben Atkinson in 1901. Atkinson used his fortune to build a three-story hotel, cafe and saloon. While a fire in 1928 leveled the top two floors of this hotel for Northwest pioneers—miraculously the original back bar was preserved. The cocktails are first-rate. I sipped on a Gemini (an $8 blend of St Germain and Prosecco) while my husband enjoyed a classic Melrose Manhattan ($8.50).

The dining room exudes the romance of a past era with dark wood and dim lighting. Take a moment to gaze at the historic black-and-white photographs lining the walls that document the Melrose’s evolution from a frontier saloon to an award-winning steakhouse. 

There is one thing you should know about Melrose. Because of the small size of their historic kitchen, they do not offer appetizers—but don’t worry, you won't go hungry. To see the kitchen in action is like watching a well-oiled machine; every move is synchronized.

We went with a crowd and the feedback was as enthusiastic as the reviews online—both professional and novice opinions hail this as one of (if not the best) steakhouses in the Northwest. The prices are truly Rentonian. For comparison, the Metropolitan Grill offers a 25-ounce Porterhouse for $66, and comes with only one side. Salads are extra. 

My husband had been saving his meat appetite for this dinner, so he went with the heftiest cut: the Porterhouse (21 ounces for $35). This prized section of meat encompasses both short loin and tenderloin regions, similar to a T-bone, but with a larger portion of the prized tenderloin. All steak entrees come with your choice of garlic mashed potatoes, baked potato, crispy Parmesan potatoes (our favorite), or basmati pilaf and fresh vegetables, plus a green salad and delicious made-from-scratch rolls.

After hearing sighs over the plate to my left, I was passed a forkful of the petite-sized Filet Mignon (9 ounces for $28). It was tender and cooked perfectly to order. The Alaskan Scallop Special ($26) grabbed my attention, since there was plenty of steak to share.  A generous portion of tender sauteed scallops appeared, along with fresh and crisp sauteed broccoli, cauliflower, red peppers and cumin-seasoned buttery basmati pilaf. Bravo for well-respected vegetables at a steakhouse, especially at no extra cost. I also paid $2.50 to substitute their unique spinach salad with peanut vinaigrette, black-eyed peas and roasted corn relish (a seeming riff on Texas caviar), and had enough to come home with half my entree.

You can taste the care that went into this food, without going into sticker shock. Rack of lamb for $29, wow. And did I mention the wine list? Impressive West Coast selection, at a reasonable mark-up, plus bottles are half-off on Monday nights.

Make sure to go to Melrose’s website to see their most current reservation policy! It’s a unique place—ther historic location and great food keeps the place packed. 

819 Houser Way S.
Renton 98057
425-254-0759

Ed Prince April 07, 2011 at 10:12 PM
One of my favorite places in renton!
Ryb Katz April 07, 2011 at 11:11 PM
I have lived all over the US and enjoy fine dining, particularly a good steak. I have never had a better one than at Melrose at any price. And, it's always prepared perfectly to order. It's always my 'go-to' place when we have company, a special occasion or just because I want a good meal. And try a slice of the heavenly lemon caramel tart. Holy moly!
Bill Gaw April 09, 2011 at 07:46 PM
I'm sure there are other restaurant gems in Renton, it's just that we can't seem to go anywhere else! Always great and the leftovers always make for the next day's "best lunch of the week."

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