By Doug Verkaaik
July 15, 2009, 11:14 a.m.
The dining scene in East County has taken a major step forward with the recent addition of Savanna Grill in Rancho San Diego. It’s a beautiful restaurant featuring everything you’d expect from a top-notch operation. In fact, it gives East County locals a chic downtown Gaslamp-style restaurant with the luxury of staying in your own neighborhood. Now you can enjoy cosmopolitan-style amenities without the long drive and steep parking fees of downtown San Diego.
Savanna Grill is a classy steakhouse and lounge with fabulous floor to ceiling window views of the lush, green fairways of Cottonwood golf course. It’s a place where you can enjoy lunch or dinner priced from around $15 for a burger and a drink, to ... well, the sky’s the limit. Steaks run from just $17.95 to $39.95.
The restaurant is the latest venture of well respected local restaurateur Diah Asker, the man that also brings us several wonderful Taste of Italy restaurants. Diah saw the need for a top-class, yet casual and affordable dining venue in East County that would provide a nice upscale setting, a fantastic lounge, a vibrant happy hour setting with great food and drink specials, and a place that would also provide nightly entertainment and late-night dining. (They stay open until 1:30 a.m. every night.) Diah has hired solid talent to run the operation, including Chef Miguel Martinez, formerly with Ruth’s Chris and Hotel Del Coronado, and Sous Chef Benny Estrada, who has worked for Diah for 15 years. Also onboard is Banquet and Special Services Director Jeanne Pucci.
Happy Hour is long here, from 2 to 7 p.m. seven days a week, and again from 10 to closing Sundays through Thursdays. During Happy Hours, enjoy $2 off drafts, plus 45 Sky martinis and specials on the bar menu, such as the $2.50 jumbo fish taco or Angus sliders. Additionally, there are half-price wine specials all day on Wednesdays and Sundays.
The regular menu is served all day. There’s a full page of great starters, including griddled crab cakes, oysters Rockefeller, prime rib bites, coconut shrimp, or a superb carpaccio (thin-sliced filet mignon with baby greens, sliced Romano cheese, garlic toast points and a tasty Caesar dressing). The French onion soup, the Savanna chop house salad and the spinach salad are all are highly suggested here. Before you choose your main course, let me point out that this is a steakhouse (and they do it right here), charbroiling both prime and certified Angus steaks in the double-stack ovens at a searing 1800 degrees. Among the steaks are filet mignon, bone-in or boneless rib-eye, top sirloin, porterhouse, and the New York. They also offer lamb chops and surf & turf combos with either Alaskan crab legs, Australian lobster tail or scampi.
An added bonus it that your dinner includes two sides (instead of paying extra for them). The menu also lists seafood specialties such as garlic panko-crusted halibut, tomato basil mahi-mahi, herb-crusted salmon and other dishes such as chicken Savanna or barbecue baby back ribs. Under the “no fork needed” heading, you’ll find half-pound burgers and great sandwiches, such as the hot Rueben, the pulled-pork or the stellar Philly cheese steak.
For dessert, the warm lava cake or the warm apple cobbler will do you fine. There’s also a good wine list.
Named after Diah’s daughter, Savanna Grill is located at 3773 Willow Glen Dr. (619-592-GRILL).
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