Life gets easier with experience. This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, and sure, it may sound like common sense, but it’s one of those life lessons that really doesn’t resonate (with me, anyway) until I realize it for myself in a tangible way.
It often comes to mind when I’m in marketing meetings, or writing up strategies, or figuring out someone’s advertising ROI. I’ve been writing this blog for 7 years, and I had absolutely no idea how to do any of the things I do now when I first launched. I was committed to figuring it out along the way. It’s why quitting was never an option for me, despite all of the people who balked at the thought of a restaurant critic starting up in Fort Collins, “Aren’t you going to run out of restaurants to review??” (the answer is clearly no – I’m never going to be out of a job when it comes to the variety of places to eat in this town).
Over the years things have gotten easier, and at times, better. I read early reviews and think, “Good lord, this a bunch of crap” and recognize how far that skill set has come. I see parallels between writing and the hospitality industry – the skills, knowledge, and quality are ever evolving. The longer you’re in the game, the easier it gets… as long as you don’t rest on your laurels and coast along, thinking that you’ve proven yourself at some point.
And that right there is why I feel a lot of legacy restaurants in Fort Collins are stale. They were great at one time and then didn’t keep up with evolving tastes and expectations, coasting along because it still feels like the golden year of 1980 in their mind.
I wrote the original review on The Silver Grill back in 2010 – six years ago when my youngest was a baby strapped in a car seat carrier and my oldest was a rambunctious preschooler. Now they’re both in elementary school making their own dinners when I’m busy working late. The menu at Silver Grill at the time wasn’t impressive to me, feeling more like a local IHOP of sorts. And the writing in the review? Terrible. With only 7 months of review experience under my belt, and really the first month I started taking things seriously as a media business, I hadn’t acquired the level of thorough and fair criticism as I do now. There aren’t many photos, I didn’t visit more than once to fully explore the menu, and it was very clear that I was just learning the ropes with virtually no budget to speak of.
My how things change – for both Feasting Fort Collins and The Silver Grill. This is why updated reviews are critical to stay on top of.
I have improved over 7 years (thank god), but so has The Silver Grill. The famous cinnamon rolls have stayed the same, but they’ve really raised the bar on quality and creativity while staying true to their roots. They’re whipping out amazing monthly specials, partnering up with other local businesses to develop new and innovative menu items, building the world’s largest Bloody Mary Bar every year, and keeping it delicious the whole way through.
I absolutely love The Silver Grill now, even though I still dislike the epic wait to get a seat.
Last spring we had a brunch visit with the in-laws and relaxed with complimentary coffee while we waited. It made my impatience for waiting a little less irritating.
It was a time of the year when they had their Lugene Black Cow Milkshakes on the menu, made with Odell Brewing Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout, stout syrup, Walrus Ice Cream (vanilla or chocolate) ice cream, and topped with caramel whipped cream.
This is one of those essential Fort Collins menu items that you have to make time for each year. It’s rich, decadent, and oh, so Fort Collins as a collaboration with some quintessential local businesses. This is one of those things that I can say tastes like Fort Collins, without a hint of hesitation.
I also had their seasonal special – a fresh morel mushroom omelette with sauteed morels, garlic and asparagus, folded with smoked gouda and topped with a morel white wine cream sauce, served with a side of hashbrowns and a slice of cinnamon roll toast.
GOOD LORD. How would anyone call that a bad meal? Someone without tastebuds, that’s who would say that. Their menu wasn’t this amazing 6 years ago, and I’m so glad they didn’t sit back on their nostalgic appeal, but continued to prove themselves year after year… for 83 years. Forget about food, that’s inspiration to me as a business owner and writer. You are never proven, you are always proving.
During that same visit my kids ate the Pig in a Blanket – a sausage link wrapped in a silver dollar pancake with a side of hashbrowns. With this priced at $3.99, they’re not only tasty, but affordable.
Bill had the classic chicken fried steak and eggs over easy with a side of hashbrowns – a staple that’s been on the menu for decades, and a good standby for those who are looking to keep it simple with American diner fare instead of creative concoctions from the seasonal specials.
Bill and I had a more recent visit last week to go over business planning and focus group data for the new product we’re launching. There’s no better way to do business than over breakfast. I had the salmon eggs benedict with English muffin, topped with spinach, grilled salmon, poached eggs, and homemade hollandaise.
This is a staple on their regular menu as well, a filling mix of savory and tangy flavors in each bite, and a fantastic hollandaise to boot.
Bill had the Kentucky Hot Brown, a variation of the welsh rarebit and a 1926 classic creation of turkey, tomato, and mornay sauce. He opted for a side of fries to go with.
A little salty, but rib-sticking. He couldn’t finish the generous portion. In the past people had mentioned that the Silver Grill was overpriced for what you got. And looking at the last review photos, I would agree six years ago. Now? Not so much. I think you get more than what you pay for – both in portion and quality.
Silver Grill has been a part of Fort Collins for generations, and it’s no wonder why they’re a favorite breakfast spot for young and old alike. They’ve maintained their core as a historical cornerstone in the community while keeping up with the times and flavors of today.
This is one review I’m so glad I get the opportunity to write again.
Silver Grill Cafe
218 Walnut Street
Kid-Friendly? Yes, and they have really great pricing for the kids’ menu items
Parking: Old Town street parking
Healthy Options? The have a light menu, but it’s smaller portion sizes, not necessarily healthy foods. However, they do have some great options (oatmeal, fresh fruit, etc) in other sections of the menu.
Budget-Friendly? Yes, very.
Recent Health Inspection: Marginal