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Kelton's Steak & Seafood

Diners can expect a familiar Italian flair at the new Kelton's Steak & Seafood in McAndrews Marketplace.

But the restaurant operated by Vincenzo and Virginia DiCostanzo adeptly distinguishes itself from the family's other endeavors under the name Vinny's Italian Kitchen. DiCostanzo operated Vinny's in Eagle Point for three years before closing the restaurant in March. Just three months later, he took over the space vacated in February by McAndrews Avenue Grill.

While the latter may have been best known for selling the most expensive steaks in town (side dishes not included), Kelton's accurately hits the Rogue Valley price point. Dinner entrees range from $16.95 for fettucini with clams to $31.95 for two lobster tails, which includes soup or salad and a vegetable side dish.

Items other than pasta also come with a choice of mashed potatoes, fries or sweet-potato fries. They may not be the boutique Allen Brothers steaks that gave McAndrews Avenue Grill much of its cachet, but Kelton's serves the complement of cuts from porterhouse to filet mignon (each $25.95), with pork and lamb chops thrown in for good measure. Customers have the option to pair a 12-ounce New York strip with salmon or shrimp scampi for nine to 10 dollars more.

Good-natured about their extensive menu, the friendly staff allowed us ample time to decide on dinner while whisking away extra place settings, filling water glasses and delivering hot bread and pesto oil to the table. Service remained attentive throughout the meal.

My friend briefly dithered over the array of main-dish salads before settling on the daily special, swordfish puttanesca ($22.95). I chose the lobster ravioli, also $22.95, with the promise that she would get a taste. To avoid an onslaught of cream-based sauces, I chose the minestrone soup over clam chowder while she predictably opted for salad.

Seeing the freshness of her greens, I almost regretted my choice. Although the soup had plenty of carrots and celery, it could have been considerably hotter. Finely minced parsley and Parmesan adorned the top, but a fresh grind of black pepper provided the only spicy note. My friend generously tossed her garlic-flavored croutons into the bowl.

Happily, the meal improved from there. My first bite of ravioli revealed a large chunk of succulent lobster, and the alfredo sauce was the appropriate temperature. I wondered if the pasta was homemade but finished the five dumplings impressed that their filling was packed with lobster to the last morsel.

My friend's swordfish, we agreed, was perfectly cooked without any of the dry mealy texture that restaurants can impart. The puttanesca sauce was sweet but briny with its accent of capers. We only wished that pasta had been a side-dish choice to absorb the superior flavors. We appreciated the crisp sweet-potato fries, but neither they nor mashed potatoes seemed a good match for tomato sauce.

We both lamented being too full to finish the fish but couldn't pass up an offer of house-made tiramisu ($7). We ordered the dessert with a to-go container, so we could pack it up after a few bites.

Almost too pretty to hide in a box, the tiramisu arrived drizzled with chocolate sauce. Bonus flourishes of sliced strawberries and mini chocolate chips added to its appeal. One bite told us that the dessert could shine if presented in only a plain slab. The rich mascarpone atop cake decadently moist with coffee stacked up against the best tiramisu we'd enjoyed anywhere.

The welcoming bar area had started to fill up by 6 p.m., we remarked, musing that we would enjoy the polished wood and art-glass lighting on a return visit. Kelton's "happy hour" runs from 4 to 6 p.m. with $2 and $3 beers and $5 appetizers, including sauteed mushrooms, fried shrimp or zucchini, mozzarella sticks and bruschetta.

— Sarah Lemon