Grapevine Restaurant Review
All of the text below was posted to OurLosBanos.com in 2006 and 2007. Links have been removed as they are out of date.
New Note: July 7, 2007 - We returned to the Grapevine for a meal this evening. We must admit we went in with some trepidation because we had heard that since the ownership change several months ago that there had been substantial and not so positive changes to the food.
We are happy to report that our meal and our service were EXCELLENT. The food was just as good as it had been on our previous visits and Ricardo is still there providing his outstanding and excellent service.
We had another excellent meal and were very pleased.
Rumors continue to buzz around town of upcoming changes to the Grapevine, and though we do not know if any of those are true, as of this evening, July 7, 2007, things remain as they were before and the Grapevine Chicken remains one of my favorite meals in Los Banos.
Name Of Establishment The Grapevine Restaurant Address: 2160 Pacheco Blvd. Suite U Los Banos Phone Number: 209-827-9454 Website: Unknown Prices: Moderate - High Date Of Review: March 4, 2006 Check out the Official Merced County Health Inspection of this Restaurant - If that link isn't working try this link (note: these links are slow to load) Our Overall Numeric Rating Summation Opinion: Food and service are terrific - with some work on decor The Grapevine could rival Espanas as a favorite place to take people for 'that special night out'.
On March 4th, 2006 we went to see what the Grapevine of Los Banos was all about. At that time The Grapevine was a two month old restaurant off of Pacheco Blvd. The Grapevine turned out to be an excellent dining experience and a terrific addition to the higher-end restaurant choices around Los Banos. The prices are high, but appropriately so. This is a good place to go for an anniversary, celebration or just a special night out. Don't be afraid to take the kids either. The atmosphere is on the nicer end, but friendly.
We decided to have dinner around 5pm. Upon entering the establishment, our eyes were greeted with starched white tablecloths and fresh, attractive flowers in little clear glass globes on each table. Folded burgundy napkins stood at attention beside each plate and the overall atmosphere was pleasant. There were paintings of wine and other items hanging on the walls and the décor had a decidedly Italian feel to it.
We were immediately greeted and taken to a booth beside a huge window. Both my husband and I commented on the fact that the windows could use some dressing up, maybe some thick, heavy curtains tied back.
Through one of the windows we could see a patio area that was filled for now with a jumble of unused chairs and some tables. One can imagine the promise of outdoor dining though. What they will do with the patio remains to be seen, but hey, this is a brand-spanking-new restaurant. The kinks have yet to be worked out and warm summer evenings are still distant in this early and chilly March.
One of our waiters (we were attended or spoken to by four different individuals, all impeccably groomed and mannered) brought out the menus and after looking over the choices we were ready to order.
The choices are decidedly "fancy", but varied enough for all tastes. For starters one can choose prawns, calamari, portabella mushrooms, buffalo wings and more. We settled on the mozzarella sticks and asked for a side of ranch, instead of the marinara sauce.
There was a selection of salads and sandwiches: seafood (Louie), a Chinatown chicken, grilled steak (either a salad or sandwich!), an executive burger and more. We decided to skip this section though and order from the pasta and specialties.
My husband ordered Ravioli Ala Bolognese and I, after much indecision (too many things sounded too good) settled for the Grapevine Chicken.
While we waited, a basket of very fresh, hot and crusty sourdough bread was brought out along with of herbed butter nestled in a small bowl.
We both received our sodas around the same time. They were mixed just right, unlike how they can be in some places; just the right amount of carbonation. Perfect! It may seem like a little detail, but that is what The Grapevine restaurant is all about... getting the little details just right and making for a completely satisfying experience for their customers.
We did however have one complaint. Our appetizer, the previously noted mozzarella sticks, arrived within a few minutes. Unfortunately they were just so-so. It reminded us both of the equivalent of what you'd get from Smart-and-Final or some other bulk store. Not only was the flavor uninspiring but the mozzarella sticks were also on the cold side. They should have been cooked longer, as the cheese was only partly melted and the exteriors were hardly crisp. This was our one food complaint, but in the end the other food made up for this faux-paus.
Shortly thereafter, my salad arrived. It was really quite good -a nice mix of varied greens with nothing bitter. This was defiantly an "upper-class" salad, not your typical throw it together iceberg. Colorful greens, both lacy and broad decorated my plate with cherry tomatoes and cracked pepper, applied by our server. I ordered Thousand Island dressing, and while the dressing was thinner that I would have expected, this didn't detract because the flavor was excellent. There was an unusual spicy bite to the salad, not overwhelming, but very interesting.
Our plates of steaming food arrived shortly after we finished our salad and bread.
The Ravioli were done just right. They came in a shallow bowl and were filled with cheese and smothered in a meat sauce (occasionally bedecked by a mushroom) sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan. The sauce is what made the meal. The pasta itself was just fine, -not too squishy and not to firm. The food was appealing to the eye as well as the stomach.
The real star of the show however was The Grapevine Chicken. In fact we'd have to say that Grapevine Chicken was nothing short of flat out excellent. My husband wished he had ordered it too and continually pilfered plenty of my dinner from my plate (maybe next time I will stab at him with my fork!). The chicken was broiled and covered in a creamy sauce topped with tiny Bay shrimp. Off to the side were sautéed vegetables and a rice pilaf.
I didn't want the rice so I asked for a substitution of mashed potatoes when we ordered our meals. The staff seems very willing to make substitutions so that everything is just right and tailored appropriately for each individual. When we received our food my meal was served to me with rice. Oops! Our waiter brought the potatoes out to me after a reminder and he apologized that they had forgotten my request. Our server was very decent about the whole thing and appeared genuinely sorry.
During our entire meal, we were carefully attended to. The service wasn't intrusive, nor was it neglectful. Waiters, when they weren't attending customers, waited unobtrusively in the corners scanning the room, they were ready at a moment's notice to quietly fill a glass or offer assistance. Our main waiter Ricardo's understated flourish with everything was enjoyed and appreciated. He made the meal feel special and... high class.
At the end of our main course, we were too stuffed to have dessert although it was tempting. There was cheesecake, tiramisu, and chocolate cake among others. We paid our bill and hoisted our take-home containers, knowing we'd have a delicious late night snack that night.
Our experience with the Grapevine was more than satisfactory. There were a few minor flaws, but the staff worked hard to make the experience positive . With the exception of the disappointing cheese sticks, the food was superb. We think it's great that our town has another choice in the higher-end section of dining establishments. The Grapevine Restaurant is still a little rough around the edges, after all it is brand-new, but we think that you have a great chance of being as pleased overall as we were. We hope Los Banos will turn out and sample some of the wonderful food and that years from now, the Grapevine will be a well-established restaurant from where I can still order the fantastic Grapevine chicken!
Specific Opinions By Reviewer One Overall Rating : Food: Service: The older Hispanic man that served us gave us the flat out best service we have experienced in Los Banos - bar none! Decor: Price/Value: Bathroom Cleanliness: Not Observed Romance Factor: If the decor matched the service this would be a 5 Family Friendliness:
Specific Opinions By Reviewer Two Overall Rating : Food: Service: Decor: Price/Value: Bathroom Cleanliness Not Observed Romance Factor: Has real potential if decor is improved. Family Friendliness: