by Terrance Mc Arthur
Our roving food critic Terrance Mc Arthur continues his search for great food in Sanger and the surrounding communities. Check out more Great Food Search here!
What do you want in a restaurant?
Good food? Of course.
Wood-fired cooking? Tell me more.
Decent price? That would be nice.
Inviting atmosphere? That helps.
Top-drawer entertainment? Ooh.
A great view. Yeah, I’d like that.
All that and a river within earshot? All of that? Wow! Where is this place?
Take Manning Avenue east, past Parlier, and turn right just before you hit Reedley at the bridge over the Kings River, and you’ll run smack into The Wakehouse Woodfire Grill & Barrel.
Hey, isn’t that Kelly’s Beach?
It used to be, but now it’s The Wakehouse. There’s a nice cover around the building’s porch now, and the back patio is enclosed—a world of its own. The interior is stone and logs, with an intimate stage for performers like Rudy Parris (He was on Blake’s team on The Voice). An outdoor stage hosts larger concerts featuring everything from reggae to rock.Start off your evening with an appetizer, and are they ever appetizing! When I’ve had artichokes in the past, they were always steamed; I’d never had a Grilled Artichoke ($9.99) before. The smoky flavor mixes with the garlic-herb butter and the chipotle aioli to issue a bugle call to your taste buds: “The good stuff is coming!” I came back another night to check out the BBQ Pork Fries ($9.99). Start with Big-Boy French fries, slather them with a nacho cheese sauce, load them with smoked pork lubricated with a raspberry chipotle, and topped with a wallop of a dollop of sour cream! That would be enough for a whole meal in many places, but it’s just a starter at the Wakehouse.
Dishes at the Wakehouse are wood-fire grilled, and the steaks are the beneficiaries. A Rib Eye Steak ($19.99) glistens on the plate. A baked potato looks like a volcano erupting with sour cream and cheese, while the grilled veggies provide a variety of tastes and colors.
The Blues BBQ Burger ($13.99) starts with curling planks of bacon, vibrant mixed greens (instead of the typical wilting iceberg leaf), major-league tomato slabs, healthy onions grilled and barely brown, chunks of what-have-we-here Bleu Cheese, and raspberry chipotle BBQ. Then the Wakehouse stacks them inside an oiled bun, creating a six-inch-high tantalizing tower of taste that requires skewering by a stake that could puncture a vampire, just to hold it together.
The fries are amazing here, but the potato chunks are seared to create thin crusts that crackle as they are punctured to reach the rich whiteness inside. A basic side salad arrives in a deep-dish, dinner-sized glass platter, dotted with flakes of cheese, studded with crunchy croutons that never saw a supermarket shelf. The salad dressing waits patiently to join the festival of green and red, yellow and white.
Ooh! Desserts! I almost forgot! A Bananas Foster ($8.99) big enough for two (spoons will clash to get those last, rich slurps) and Ice Cream Sundaes ($5.99) are on the menu, too. Yummmmm-y!
The bar is open to the dining area, and the crowd is a mixture of young, old, and different genders. The service is friendly, the environment is not too dark to see what you’re eating, and dishes appear sooner than you’d expect, because you’re having such a terrific time. The kitchen opens at 11 a.m. for lunch, and you can order food as late as 10:30 p.m. I made an after-work visit for take-out at 8:15 one night, which is how I was able to share the BBQ Pork Fries with my family (OK, I ate most of the order.).
So, go down by the river at Reedley (850 Kings River Rd.) and eat, and listen, and make friends, and be glad you found the Wakehouse. Like them on Facebook to keep up with specials and music and comedy shows and check out our past article about Wakehouse to learn a little more about their history.