Original Roadhouse Grill, a family-friendly, Oregon-based, casual saloon chain known for jumbo drinks and mouthful meals, opened its first Washington location in January. The Federal Way restaurant is on 20th Avenue South, a few blocks north of 320th Street. Coming from Pacific Highway, it's behind Top Foods. Future openings are planned for Lacey and Everett.
Original Roadhouse Grill is the kind of restaurant where you're encouraged to throw peanut shells on the floor and where the entire service staff does happy-birthday chants for customers.
Both of those things annoyed me and other customers in the two pre-review visits I've made to Original Roadhouse Grill.
Peanut shells on slick concrete floors are a bad idea. I heard more than one customer comment on the liability of strewn shells. Like the French poet-thief Francois Villon, I have a great fear of falling. My trip to the restroom was fraught with anxiety. The 23-ounce draft beer ($5 during happy hour, a bargain) had nothing to do with it. It was the peanut shells.
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As for the happy-birthday chants (one to a kid with her entire family, one to a couple of bearish guys), I couldn't understand a word the servers were singing. It was like a cacophony of 5-year-olds trying to get the teacher's attention all at the same time.
I liked the 9-ounce filet mignon ($19.99) -- ruby-pink just like my wife ordered it. Grilled baby-back ribs lacked barbecue bite, but slid from their bones. I had a half rack with a slab of medium-pink, mediumly enjoyable, minimally fatty prime rib ($20.99). The au jus was a sodium bomb. Horseradish spread flavored the beef a lot better. A double-cut roasted pork chop ($14.99) was dry to the bones.
Entrees come with salad and sides. Our salad greens were tired. Sides include baked sweet potatoes, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, veggie, etc. The baked sweet potato was Hindenburg-huge. Loads of butter. Lots of cinnamon. It was gooood.
Nachos topped with sirloin-and-kidney-bean chili and pickled jalapenos were whopping. No wonder they were served atop a piece of parchment paper: They'll easily slide into that take-out container you're bound to need for these nachos. Texas, Southwest and Northwest egg rolls weren't that interesting (yes, the Northwest rolls contained salmon and cream cheese), but two of the dipping sauces (jalapeno jelly and spicy ranch) made the sampler platter more interesting and better worth the calories.
Strawberry lemonade was on the viscous side. The psychedelic Kool-Aid cocktail was a boozy-sour swirl of vodka, melon Liqueur, Amaretto, sweet & sour, cranberry juice and Sprite.
I liked the service -- aggressively friendly (and keen to push that big brownie sundae) but pretty good at what they do. I tipped 20 percent each time.
Original Roadhouse Grill: 31525 20th Ave. S. Federal Way; 253-529-7794. Hours: Daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays