Wild River Grille serves up a meal as good as its ambiance
Outdoor dining is always a summer staple but during COVID-19 the option to sit outdoors has considerably more appeal. In fact, between capacity reductions and a population ready to get out again, many eateries—including Wild River Grille—are fully booked.
A reservation was needed to get into the now-exclusive (if it wasn’t already before) patio seating at Wild River Grille on a Friday night, but being outdoors on a warm Reno evening was worth the wait. Twinkly lights were on, live music was playing on the patio, and a masked-staff were ready to serve.
Any evening at Wild River Grille starts with cocktails. The list of signature drinks featured favorites, including mules and gimlets. The Classic Razz, a martini-style cocktail made with raspberry-infused vodka, orange-infused brandy, lemon juice, and simple syrup is just the drink for someone with a sweet tooth—especially when you consider it’s finished with a sugar rim. For those looking for a more refreshing, less saccharine drink, the Riverside Margarita offers a spin on the original that includes the same house-infused orange brandy as the Razz.
At the Wild River Grille food tends to take a bit to come out of the kitchen, so if you’re not ready to mingle over cocktails, an appetizer may be in order. Regardless, again, the wait is worth it. On this evening I opted for the Plum Chipotle Salmon.
The salmon is smoked and smothered in a plum-chipotle sauce that offers a blend of heat (not spice) and sweet I don’t think I’ve ever tasted before. Add in the crispy smoked edges of the fish, and I was scooping every last bite. Perfect for summer, the salmon sat on a bed of vegetable orzo pasta. The sauce blending with the orzo was delightful and gave it some extra flavor but remained light. A sucker for vegetables, I could have gone for a second helping of the summer squash medley.
If you’re not in the mood for fish, steak is never a bad choice here. The request for medium-rare was definitely met with a warm pinkish-red center. Choose your cut—an 8-ounce filet mignon is served over a fried Parmesan risotto cake while the 14-ounce Ribeye, which is ideal for a hearty appetite, comes with mashed red potatoes. Each is accompanied by crisp asparagus. It’s not soggy the way some people prefer it, but rather the fat stalks are crunchy and not overly seasoned, so you get the full taste of the asparagus in every bite.
Throughout dinner the band played cover songs lightly in the background, a welcome surprise during a time when live music isn’t prominent anywhere in Reno. The social distancing protocols in place were also nice. As mentioned, staff wore masks and tables were set farther apart. A less crowded outdoors—and a missing overhang that I know was there at one point—made the space feel more open. With the outdoor hostess stand we never even stepped inside.
Expert Tip: Always opt for a post-meal walk along the river.
Hours: Lunch daily from 11 a.m., Dinner daily 4 to 9 p.m., Happy Hour Monday through Friday 4 to 6 p.m.
Visit: 17 S. Virginia Street, Reno, NV 89501