It can be nice knowing what to expect, even when it comes to dining-out options.
The nice thing about working in a military town are not only all the interesting people you meet, but the variety in restaurant cuisine. We've got a little bit of everything in Houston County: Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Mediterranean, Mexican, Cuban, Jamaican, Italian and Thai, among others, and of course, American.
And while 'American' can signify a range of styles, sometimes it's just nice to have a go-to place where you know what to expect, no matter what you're in the mood for.
Take for example, Calvin's American Grill in Warner Robins. The locally owned restaurant opened in July in the brand new Grande Crossing shopping center on South Houston Lake Road. Although the center may appear empty with only one other business, don't let the facade fool you. Calvin's is very much open for business.
The menu at Calvin's offers a little bit of everything for those looking for the familiar. Appetizers, known as appeteasers, offer boneless wings, fried green tomatoes, spinach and artichoke dip or queso dip with tortilla chips, bruschetta and coconut shrimp.
We enjoyed a hearty dose of mozzarella sticks, which the menu referred to as Jack Sticks. The blend of mozzarella and blue cheeses offered a rich, creamy texture coated inside a crunchy outer layer. There was a hint of spicy heat, which I now understand was due to the hot wing sauce the sticks were smothered in. Yum! My husband and I didn't particularly care for the dipping sauce, but a nice ranch dressing soon cooled our palate.
I asked what were the house specialties and was told by our waitress to try the ribs, fish or salmon. Since I'm a big grilled salmon fan, I was eager to see how Calvin's version stacked up with others I've tried. My fish came cooked with a nice pink inside color, grilled and basted with a sweet, mesquite glaze and a bit of onion. I thought the sauce complemented my salmon quite deliciously.
All entrees are served with a choice of roasted garlic mashed potatoes, orzo rice pilaf, vegetables, fries or sweet or baked potatoes. I love a salmon served with a big heaping sweet potato, coupled with butter and cinnamon sprinkles, which I ordered. My entree was quite tasty, but I was a bit disappointed in my somewhat warm, small potato. My order totaled $13.95.
The breaded and fried shrimp was a hit. Not jumbo shrimp, but small, butterflied pieces, easily digested in two quick bites.
Soups are also offered, along with a few salads, various pastas, steakburgers and sandwiches, including a mushroom swiss, barbecue, turkey cranberry, grilled chicken, portabella mushroom or fish fillet.
Other entree picks include rib eye and prime rib steaks, top sirloin, St. Louis style ribs, chicken or shrimp kabobs, crab cakes and baked tilapia. And last but not least, if you are any kind of chocolate lover, go for the chocolate lava cake. It's got chocolate sauce in the middle of this cute little cake — warm, fresh and creamy. What's not to love?
Cheesecake bites are breaded and served with a heaping scoop of simple vanilla ice cream and a raspberry sauce.
I'll say a lunch visit for two to Calvin's might surprise your wallet, so be on the lookout. Our meal was a bit pricey at just under $55, including tip.
So if you're looking for something familiar and want to support a locally-owned business, skip the regular chain-restaurants along busy Warner Robins highways. You'll find a pleasing atmosphere inside and out at Calvin's.
Calvin's American Grill
1281 S. Houston Lake Road, Warner Robins
Two and a half stars
Phone: (478) 988-0344
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday
Payment: Cash, credit cards
Price range: $5.99-$19.99
Children's menu: Yes
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Vegetarian selections: Yes
Health code rating: 97