But the Crest Cafe is also big on food. Very big. It’s been serving he-man (or is that He-Man?) portions of comfort food classics since 1996.
The original Crest was a classic cafe, with overstuffed booths and large tables with equally large captain’s chairs.
Crest 2.0’s got a brand new bag: sky-high ceilings and the industrial look to match dark stone tables and dark wood chairs.
The vittles haven’t changed, and the menu remains daunting. From omelets to frittatas, a bounty of burgers, grilled sandwiches, pastas, fish and very serious steaks, this is greasy spoon in the best way, a neighborhood cafe on steroids.
My clock said breakfast, so I ordered the strawberry pancakes. At $8.99, it delivered two plate-covering flapjacks the size of my heat blanket with strawberries and whipped cream.
Our server dropped off bottles of warm maple and boysenberry syrup. I went the boysenberry route and got down to business.
The pancakes were excellent, light and airy but with enough bite to make them memorable and satisfying. Pancakes are their own food group at the Crest. Classic buttermilk pancakes, blueberry, cinnamon apple, banana and chocolate chip. Take your pick
Ordering the classic meatloaf prompted our server to deliver a ground beef bomb: a small mountain served up with a healthy heap of steamed vegetables and a half-acre of fries. At $11.99, this was a meal for four. Or one truly starving student.
While it looked imposing, the meatloaf was lighter than she expected. She said it was good, just not what mother used to make. At least not her mother. And while the serving was generous, the gravy made it pretty clear there was a Costco-sized bottle of Kitchen Bouquet somewhere in the kitchen.
The vegetables were very nice and not overcooked, and she called the hearty fries, which left a little of the potato skin on for an extra crunch, a winner. If the meatloaf was a bit of a bump in the road, we’ve had plenty of meals at the Crest that hit the mark.
The classic cob salad ($9.89) is a favorite, and so is the tuna salad ($9.89). I like the potato skins ($7.99) much more than I should, and same goes for the fried zucchini ($7.99). Want another winner? Try the four-way grilled cheese sandwich ($7.29) or the classic half-pound burger ($7.99). Get it with cheese—it’s more than worth the four bits extra.
If you like steaks, check out the flame-broiled rib-eye ($17.99), or if you’re one of the few, proud and brave enough to admit you like it, try the liver, onions and bacon ($11.99). It’s a year’s worth of iron on a plate.
The service is friendly and efficient at the Crest and the granddaddy of all rules is: No one goes home hungry.
Crest Cafe, 5225 Canyon Crest Dr., Suite #40, Riverside, (951) 784-2233; Open Mon.-Sun., 6:30AM to 10PM, M, V.