The neon beer signs on the Islander’s windows above True Value Hardware made me think it would be a dive bar. But as soon as I saw the somewhat pretentious website (“a quintessential neighborhood gathering place and bistro” ?!? ) I knew I was wrong. And having now gone there, I can say it’s actually a somewhat upscale restaurant/ bar that does a really nice steak.
The Islander has a lot of lists. There was a dinner list and a bar list, a dessert list, a specials blackboard, a wine list and a beer list on the wall. The martinis, like the website, were slightly pretentious (another list, another blackboard).
If you believe a martini is either of the gin or vodka variety, avert your eyes.
We sat in the bar area. I’m not a fan of TVs in bars, but they were playing good shows for most of the night: Simpsons and Family Guy. Then for some reason they switched to Hole in the Wall, a game show that requires contestants to wear ridiculous silver suits and jump tandem through holes. Subsequent visits have revealed that the Islander usually plays sports. Must have been a strange night.
The service is usually fine (except for one understaffed Sunday night) and there’s a friendly vibe.
Seems like a pleasant restaurant. But is it a secret Canadian training camp?
The Food is Good, If It’s Steak
The steak’s damn good. Other things are fine. But so many dishes are steak-based that you might as well go to the Islander when you’re craving a steak, especially on Tuesdays (read on).
The steak salad is amazing. The salmon– well, it’s a steak restaurant.
One of the best things about the Islander is its specials.
- Tuesdays: $10 for an 8-ounce steak
- Wedesdays: 1/2 off bottles of wine
And after 9 pm every night they have $3 beer and wine and bar specials. And don’t overlook the fact that they’re even open after 9 pm. We went on a Tuesday night and each got two drinks and a steak dinner, for $37. No kidding.
The Islander’s a good place, and a great place on specials nights. They advertise “the Best Prime Rib on Mercer Island.” An outrageous claim. What’s the source? Is there even another prime rib on the MI? Luckily the Islander’s outrageous claims are balanced by its tasty steaks.