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Mike's Penn Avenue Grille

Category Location Food Price
Steakhouse Salem Steaks $$
Mike's Penn Avenue Grille is Salem's best kept secret. Serving the finest in seafood and steaks. Daily specials, full bar, catering available.

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MyValleyDining.com Review

Get ready to be wowed.

When I walked into Mike's Penn Avenue Grille, it was exactly what I had expected but the food was above and beyond my wildest imagination. I expected wings and burgers and got fine dining that looked beautiful and tasted amazing.

Owner, chef Mike Cranmer opened Mike's Penn Avenue Grille in 2004, a Wolfgang Puck certified chef, Cranmer has a passion for food and it emulates in every dish he serves.

Mike's Daily Specials Menu is as big as his regular menu. "80% of sales are specials," boasted Cranmer. One look at the day's specials and I can understand why. In all my reviews, I've not come across such a unique menu. Two of the servers, and Mike himself, rave about their number one seller. The House Favorite Charcoal Seasoned Ribeye. Mike grills an average of 50 ribeyes every day. The Ribeye was on today's special menu along with over a half dozen seafood entrees including something I don't see every day; Blackened Shark Filet. "All the seafood comes with an airline ticket", Cranmer tells me, "you won't eat fresher than this."

As I waited at the bar, Mike presented me with three dishes that looked amazing. Chicken Calabrese, one of Mike's award winning dishes, Chicken Portabello and a mouth-watering Filet ala Michael.

I started with the Filet ala Michael. A nice garlic crusted filet cooked perfectly. Adorned with a pair of starred mushroom caps and dressed in a smooth, Tawny Port wine sauce. This steak just melted in my mouth. Tender, perfectly seasoned, perfectly grilled. If the ribeye is half as good as this, I can see why it's a House Favorite. I wanted to eat the whole thing but I had two other dishes waiting for my fork.

I moved over to the Chicken Portabello. Another beautiful dish I couldn't wait to try. Sauteed chicken breast, roasted red peppers and thick slices of portabello mushrooms in a marsala wine sauce. As if that weren't enough, it's topped with a generous layer of mozzarella cheese. If you're going to make a great sauce for a dish, make sure there's enough sauce to go with every bite. This dish does just that. Again, perfectly seasoned, loaded with the sweet peppers and meaty mushrooms topped with that melted blanket of mozzarella. The sauce makes this dish a winner.

How could it get any better? Well, if you like pasta, Mike can make a mean pasta dish. The Award Winning Chicken Calabrese. Grilled chicken bites are tossed with fresh broccoli, hot and sweet red peppers, and mushrooms in a light tomato cream sauce over penne pasta. The hot peppers add a bit of heat, the broccoli adds a bit of bite and the whole dish comes together perfectly. You might want to ask for some bread because Mike has a way with sauces, again you definitely will want to get every drop of this one.

I was just about to take my last bite of pasta when Mike mentioned that his mom, Sandy, was the in-house pastry chef offering on average, 18 different homemade desserts every day. I looked up and found myself staring at this giant piece of German Chocolate Cheesecake. I normally never order dessert but on my next visit to Mike's, I will not leave without dessert. Whether I eat it there or take it home, I WILL HAVE DESSERT. This cheesecake was phenomenal. A dark chocolate crumb crust topped with the lightest chocolate cheesecake filling. Unlike a heavier New York style cheesecake, this one was whipped as light as a souffle. Topped with a generous layer of whipped cream sprinkled with toasted coconut, this dessert is exquisite and I ate every bite.

I've always been a foodie, choosing a meal over dessert, but at Mike's I will look at the menu in a whole new way. I'm not willing to give up the great food at Mike's, but I will certainly be saving room for dessert.