Copper River Grill is a casual “come as you are” comfort food style restaurant with large portions and friendly service. After opening their doors in October 2005 in Seneca, South Carolina, they now boast 7 locations including one in Kentucky and seem to have found what it takes to be successful in a tough business. Their motto is “providing exceptional food and service, one plate and one customer at a time”. That’s their motto….but do they live up to it ?
We decided to visit their Easley location for lunch one Saturday afternoon. The location is brand new, with ample parking, nicely done stone work and some light landscaping. It appeared comfortable and inviting from the outside, inside is a little different. Rather dark, with an open floor plan, it’s not the place for quiet conversation or that special date, but it is family friendly. There are wooden beams and pillars throughout and cleverly nestled in the dining area, surrounded by tables and booths, is a gas stone fireplace. They certainly were successful in their quest for the “mountain lodge” look. Perhaps the brightest thing in there is the kitchen. Boasting polished stainless steel, it’s almost blinding in contrast to the dark dining area. With a fully open kitchen, large open dining room and hard decor, noise is an issue.
After being greeted with a smile and a nice warm welcome, our hostess quickly found us a table and the server was not far behind. He was friendly and seemingly well trained, we were off to a good start. We started with the Parmesan Crab Dip ($9.50), served in a casserole dish and surrounded with garlic crostinins (slices of toasted french bread)…didn’t like it. Unfortunate, but it tasted burnt…either someone left it in the broiler too long or the dip itself was burnt, not sure which, but it was very noticeable. Next came the Ceasar Salad which was very tasty. Not only was the salad tasty, it was accompanied with a fresh baked croissant, drizzled with a sweet hard sauce…couldn’t decide if I should eat it right away, or save it for dessert. After a minute or two, as we settled into the salad, out came the entrees…yes, a minute or two. Okay, I understand the concept of ‘turning tables’, the faster they turn them, the more money they make…but this was way too fast. To be fair, this seems to be a problem in a number of restaurants, not just this one. Upon further visits however, simply asking the server to slow down the entrees has worked very well and the speed lunch, or dinner, is no longer an issue. Our entrees were their Homemade Pizza and the Black and Bleu Salad, as for the pizza…Stone-fired and outstanding ! (Big Gambini..$10.95). Covered with over sized pepperoni slices and fresh sausage, not to mention cooked perfectly. The Black and Bleu Salad ($10.45) with blackened Tuna, was gigantic; loaded with tomatoes, bleu cheese crumbles and crispy onions with only one complaint….a small piece of tuna and slightly overcooked ( it seems to be an issue with this salad upon further visits). After polishing off our entrees, or as much as we could, we had to try a dessert. We agreed on the White Chocolate Bread Pudding($8.99), which we were told it was big enough for two….more like four ! It was okay….the marketing was better than the recipe…it was incredibly rich, cooked very well and presented nicely, but there was just something missing to put it over the top.
Recommended items from further visits include the Fried Shrimp Dinner, Kodiac Chicken ($13.95), Chicken Fingers, Prime Rib (12oz…$17.95 16oz…$21.95) and last but not least, one of my favorites, Bigfoot’s Mother-in-Law ($10.95), which you will need to be wheeled out of there if you finish it.
Overall I give Copper River Grill 4 out of 5 stars…. losing a few points because of the noise level. The food is good, fresh and certainly the portions are hearty and the staff is well trained. I also like the fact the kitchen is well staffed…this leads to better food quality and higher morale in the trenches. You don’t see only a few people doing the jobs of many, which is a huge problem in many kitchens. Copper River Grill has an army of kitchen personnel, all seemingly in sync and all in view of the diners. Restaurant owners should take a few lessons from Copper River Grill, especially the following: The so-called “extra” money you spend in labor, will pay for itself with returning customers, which of course, is the key to success in this business…sssshhhh….don’t repeat that too loud, I’m pretty sure it’s a secret.
Keep it up Copper River…I plan on visiting for many years to come !
For the “drinkers” out there, you’ll find a full bar, wine list, as well as Specialty and Dessert drinks.
Copper River Grill serves the full menu for Lunch and Dinner…doors open at 11 AM, click on the link provided for specifics.
102 Southern Center Way, Easley, SC 29640, USA