Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Grecco's on the St. Croix

Visited on Saturday, January 7th


Notes from Erin:
When I decided on St. Croix River Inn as the location of our B&B weekend away, I started to be on the lookout for good restaurant options in that area. Only a few days later, a serendipitous LivingSocial deal to Grecco's on the St. Croix popped up in my inbox, so I felt it was fate. Kate assured me that it was a good pick, so I went ahead and bought it and am so glad I did because it was exactly the same as the normal tasting menu, just 50% off - really, can't beat that.

Inside Grecco's

I'm going to format this review in the same way I did for our tasting menu at La Belle Vie - unfortunately I have no details of this tasting menu since I forgot to ask them to write everything down. It seemed that the items we got were not nearly as inventive or unique as La Belle Vie, but the idea is the same as in any tasting menu.

The one overall note I'll make is that the service was odd to me - Ben says he thinks it was great, but I disagree - it seems when you have so many people waiting on you, no one takes any ownership. The courses were also really oddly spaced - there were several times we were sitting there for nearly 20-30 minutes in between courses. It was wonderful to be able to enjoy a leisurely 3 hour meal, of course, but some consistency would have been nice because other courses came out on top of each other. There were also a few times where it was hard to find a server, or water took awhile to come out - I just prefer to have one go-to person at a restaurant versus being waited on by seemingly everyone working.

Forks for all our courses

Notes from Ben:
As part of our weekend at the bed and breakfast in Osceola, Erin had bought a Living Social deal to Grecco’s in St. Croix Falls, about 10 miles away. The deal was a buy-one-get-one deal on their six course chef’s menu, a value of $70, not bad!

We had reservations at 7pm and arrived right on time and were seated immediately. Grecco’s is deceptively large, with several different rooms as you go further back. It looked like there was bar seating in the very back room, but I never went back further to inspect. I liked the separate rooms, each had their own decor and their own vibe. We were seated at the second room in, adjacent to the wine bar in front. It took a little while for our server to stop by, but after that the service was excellent.

Inside Grecco's

We did get some bread quickly, thankfully, because I was starving by that point. I noticed that they had a wine pairing that you could add to the meal for an extra $25. Since we had already paid for our dinners several months ago, I had no problem adding that in, and told Erin “you’re driving home” :).

Bread and butter

The server seemed to time the wine a little off from the food. Sometimes I would get the next wine several minutes before the food arrived, and once or twice the food would come out and the wine a few minutes later. It kept me on my toes a bit as I would sometimes get another glass of wine before I had finished the last course. These were full glasses of wine too, so it was definitely worth the $25 in my mind.

Wine #1 - white zin

Course 1 - Spinach salad

Ben: We started off with a spinach salad that was paired with a white zinfandel. I prefer red wines over white and blush wines, but this wine was still good and very cold. The salad was good as well, it came with onions and a red (raspberry?) vinaigrette dressing.

Erin: I thought this salad was nothing special. There was way too much dressing. It seems I'm getting far pickier about the quality of my salads lately. Anyway, I ate it all and it was FINE, I guess, but seemed like an odd choice for a tasting menu.

Wine 2 - Pinot Grigo?

Course 2 - Pasta w/ truffles, mushrooms and feta cheese

Ben: The next course was pasta with truffles, mushrooms, and feta cheese paired with a pinot grigio. The pasta was excellent, I could have eaten an entire meal of it. Again, the wine was good and seemed to work well with the pasta, but me not being a wine buff, I just have to go with what they tell me.

Erin: LOVED this pasta - since everything was taking forever, and all I'd had was a little piece of bread and the salad, I devoured this very quickly. Perfectly creamy and flavorful.

Wine 3 - Sauvignon Blanc?

Course 3 - White fish with rice

Ben: The third course was whitefish over rice paired with a sauvignon blanc. The fish was generously seasoned and delicious. The rice was plain, but with all the flavor from the fish they worked well together.

Erin: The fish was fairly good - I didn't finish it because the dish overall was kind of bland and I wanted to save myself for future courses that might be better. Turned out to be a good decision!

Wine 4 - Ben doesn't remember the name

Seared duck over wild rice

Ben: On the fourth course I finally got a red wine, though I do not recall what kind it was. It was served with seared duck and wild rice. Again, both the food and the wine were fantastic. The serving sizes thus far were also small so while we were having a variety of food and several courses, at no point did I feel painfully full, which was nice.

Erin: The duck was delicious - it was cooked perfectly and was well seasoned. The wild rice I was a little less jazzed about, it was a little too al dente for my tastes. It was fine though, and I think I finished most of it.

Beef tenderloin over truffle mashed potatoes

(Forgot to take a photo of the wine - imagine a glass of red wine here)

Ben: Next up was beef tenderloin with mashed potatoes and another red wine. I love that there were three meat courses all in a row, yum! The steak was excellent as were the mashed potatoes, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with this, in my book.

Erin: This was probably my favorite course - surprising since I'm not normally a beef person, but I AM a mashed potato person. These mashed potatoes were so good - very rich and creamy.

Wine 6 - something I don't remember

Coconut Pound Cake with Blackberry

Ben: I had seen a tres leches cake on the dessert menu, but since we were having a chef’s tasting menu, I was worried that I wouldn’t have any dessert options. I asked our server before the dessert was served if the tres leches cake was available, and she said “yes, I think that’s what they’ve been serving”, so I got very excited.

Then, without another word to us, she brought out the coconut pound cake with a blackberry sauce. Now, this cake was fine, though I’m not much of a dessert person in the first place, but you’d think after I specifically asked for a different dessert, she would have at least mentioned that it wasn’t available. Seriously, I LOVE tres leches cake. Love it. I was sad. And my emotions were running high after six full size glasses of wine.

There were no tears shed and we enjoyed our dessert and the rest of our time at Grecco’s. Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable dinner that lasted around three hours. Even if we didn’t have a Living Social deal, I would consider doing this again just because it’s rare that you get a dinner experience that lasts that long, it was a lot of fun. If you’re ever looking for a day trip with a long dinner, I definitely recommend the tasting menu at Grecco’s.


Erin: The dessert course was the most... eventful, shall we say. I decided I wanted a decaf coffee with the cake - mostly because I too had been hoping for the chocolate tres leches cake I kept hearing about, so I figured the coffee would make the pound cake a bit more interesting. It took me awhile to find someone to actually order from - and when I did, the bartender brought it out and made some completely strange comment to me after pouring cream into my coffee, saying "Soon you'll be seeing someone else doing this!" and then awkwardly coming back a few seconds later and saying "I meant your child!" Ohh, pregnancy comments. They really are something else. Oh, and the cake was just fine. Nothing great, but it satisfied my need for something sweet. Pretty sure I also had a few cookies when we got back to the B&B as well...

I'm not sure I would have wanted to pay full price for the tasting menu, but for 50% off, it was certainly worth it. The food was all on the range of pretty good to delicious, and it was a really fun experience - it had been probably since our meal at La Belle Vie that we were able to spend that long just enjoying our food and each other's company - overall a great evening!

Inside Grecco's

Ben's ratings:
Service: The service was great and we were waited on by three or four different servers.
Food: Excellent food. Fresh and hot.
Drinks: Since I got the wine pairing I didn’t look into the drink situation much. I believe they have a full bar in the back, not sure what the beer list looks like.
Ambiance: A little subdued when we were there on a Saturday night. Mostly older adults.
Convenience: Again, a little far from the cities.

Grecco's on the St. Croix (website not functioning - here is the yelp page)
115 N Washington Ave
St. Croix Falls, WI