Salty’s on the River
It was my birthday and being new to Vancouver, WA, I asked for suggestions for a Fabulous Champagne Brunch suggestion. Several assured me that Salty’s on the River was not only the place to go, Salty’s was the best place for Brunch in Vancouver/Portland. Reservations gave only one option and that was 12:45, so 12:45 it was. Driving up to the location I learned of its popularity while also learning of the challenge of parking at Salty’s. Walking up to the front door I felt the warmth of a heater and soon discovered that waiting was common for seating even with reservation, so an outside table of coffee and scones greeted. Now wanting to spoil my birthday indulgence at the buffet I walked pass without hesitation.
Waling into the waiting area I quickly learned why they create an experience prior to going inside with the simple pleasures of coffee and a treat. Upon entering you are faced with standing room only with overflow by the outside snacks. Checking in let us know that our reservation time would not be honored because of delays. Being seated at by the window at 1pm softened the blow of delay. Slowly surveying the restaurant gave pause of the lack of attention that has be paid to décor since being built. I do not believe anything has changed since opening including touch ups of paint. Dated décor give reason for lack of detail for service and food. This is not a place to go for ambience.
A full-figured young lady arrived and after a very short greeting wanted to know if we wanted to upgrade/upcharge to the champagne brunch. Shortly after the upgrade she returned with champagne and informed the champagne was only available to the industry and not the general population signaling to me that it was cheap. I informed her it was my first visit and she assured me that I had made the correct decision and would tell me why. The why was simply direction around the scattered offerings of brunch. After sipping the champagne for a few moments, I decided it was time to survey the offerings. Wanting to start with the seafood offering although limited, I searched the multiple locations without success, I decided to ask. Just simply pointing to a corner, I was told that was where the seafood was displayed.
The shrimp offering was generous in volume although small in the size of the shrimp. No offering of lemon accompanied the bowl. Upon returning to the table we were greeted by our waitress with a large plastic bucket suitable for playing in the sand at the beach, and it was placed in the center of the table for the peels. After completing the fish course, I decided it was time for a hardier fair.
I spotted the carving station and requested prime rib. The meat was not tender as expected although the biggest surprise was the size of the offering as I have never seen a smaller piece of prime rib served in my life. The additional offering for the buffet were bountiful and scattered throughout with what appeared to be little thought. The Sunday buffet does not appear to be their main emphasis although must be profitable with cost and numbers of people they pack in the space. After trying the savory fair, I was on to my favorite course, sweets.
The large chocolate fountain highlighted the display of the most petite morsels. The sweets offered nothing exceptional and nothing disappointing. Observing the buffet was over was signaled by the roar of a vacuum. Cleaning the carpet before everyone leaves is one of the worse mistakes a business of any kind can make as it signals, Get Out. The bill arrived without the promised $5 off over 65 even though I announced at first meeting that I was there to celebrate my 70th birthday. Attention to detail is not a strength of Salty’s or even a consideration. Salty’s has potential with the view with a make over and creating an experience rather than a buffet. I can get good food many places although I can not get good service and a Fabulous experience many places. I will always return for the experience over the food.