99 Saloon and Grill gets a makeover

Bar on Highway 99 adds family dining room, full menu all week

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Dining out review: 99 Saloon and Grill

Hours: 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Sunday.

Telephone: 360-693-8125

Where: 7005 N.E. Highway 99, Vancouver.

Health score: 99 Saloon & Grill received a score of 15 on Aug. 3. Zero is a perfect score, and Clark County Public Health closes restaurants with a score of 100 or higher. For information, call 360-397-8428.

Why: It could be that you are among those who have traveled by the 99 Saloon and Grill for years without consideration since it is not a family-style restaurant. Times have changed, and so has this establishment. It still offers the bar and night life, but a recent remodel has given the place a new look, and it now includes a family dining room. Open seven days a week, 99 Saloon and Grill is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

What I tried: To start, my dining companion and I tried the steak bites. I settled on the Couve Cristo, which is a Monte Cristo sandwich. I opted to have a salad with the sandwich. My dining companion had the prime rib dip sandwich with french fries.

The steak bites are served with a mixture of horseradish and sour cream for dipping. We were surprised at the large portion size of the appetizer. It could easily be shared among 3-4 people. The steak pieces were not uniform in size with some being single bites and others at least two bites each. The meat was tender, lean and juicy. Unlike many steak bites I have tried, these were not caramelized on any of the edges. I found the dipping sauce had more sour cream flavor than horseradish. It had a mild presence and complemented the meat well.

The Monte Cristo sandwich was piping hot, though not entirely traditional in preparation — instead of egg dipping and deep frying the entire sandwich, just the Texas toast was egg-dipped, and it was pan-fried. Other than this, it was assembled just as I had expected: with ham, turkey, American cheese and Swiss cheese, and finished with a sprinkling of powdered sugar over the top. I asked for some syrup to accompany the sandwich, which I poured over the top, as well. The thin-sliced ham and turkey were lean and the cheeses were melted. I found the sandwich very appealing and would definitely have it again. The salad was a disappointment. Although the greens were fresh, they had been allowed to become warm and wilted. Having lost its crispness, the salad did not make a good impression. It was topped with grated cheese, tomatoes and croutons.

My dining companion thoroughly enjoyed the prime rib dip. A hearty stack of thin-sliced, lean and tasty prime rib topped with grilled onions and melted Swiss cheese sat atop a fresh, toasted French roll. Horseradish was served alongside and a bowl of dark, rich, au jus for dipping accompanied it. The fries were a crinkle-cut frozen and fried variety.

Menu highlights beyond what I tried: Prime rib is served on Friday and Saturday. Filet mignon, ribeye and New York complete the steak selections. Desserts are available, but the menu encourages to inquire about the special of the day. The 99 Saloon patty melt consists of a one-third pound burger patty smothered with grilled onions and topped with American and Swiss cheeses, all served on toasted rye bread. The chicken pasta dish combines sauteed chicken breast, vegetables and mushrooms tossed in Alfredo sauce and Parmesan cheese with penne pasta. Breakfast options cover traditional breakfasts.

Atmosphere: Faux saloon-style doors are at the entry of the stand-alone restaurant. Family dining is to the left of the entrance and offers booth seating. The bar counter wraps around the center portion of the space with the kitchen behind. Wood siding and brick paneling are used throughout, and a roof edge tops the back bar creating an outdoor-style vibe. Bar seating includes booths along the wall and tables and chairs fill in the floor, with barstools lined up along the bar counter. A stage is set up at the far end of the bar and several large-screen TVs provide entertainment.

Other observations: The service was friendly and attentive, and the food arrived quickly. The establishment is very clean and the decor is family friendly in its western appeal.

Cost: Breakfast starts at $3.99 and tops out at $11.99, with sides for $1.85 to $4.99. Appetizers cost $5.99 to $16.99. Soup is $3.50 for a cup and $4.99 for a bowl. Clam chowder is available on Fridays for $6.99. Salads are $4.99 to $13.99. Fish n chips comes in three-piece and four-piece options for $9.99 and $12.99. Burgers and sandwiches are served with fries or salad and range from $8.50 to $12.99. Steaks come with a side of veggies and your choice of fries or loaded baked potato, soup or salad and garlic bread starting at $16.99 and topping out at $22.99. Breakfast options for kids and those 55 and older are $3.50 to $5.99. Supper is $4.99 to $13.99 and desserts are $2.25 to $3.25.