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Andiamo Lakefront Bistro 24026 E. Jefferson Ave., Harbor 9 Marina, St. Clair Shores; 586-773-7770: Almost 13 years ago, Joe Vicari made the old Lido on the Lake into part of his Italian dining empire. And it's quite a space, sprawling over two floors, with a marina out back and outdoor seating in good weather. Upscale Italian fare with a few concessions for powerboaters, excellent water views and a cozy bar for the neighborhood regulars mean the bistro promises something for everyone.
Antonio's in the Park 15117 Kercheval St., Grosse Pointe Park; 313-821-2433: Meatballs are available with your spaghetti (add $1.95). Salt and pepper shakers are diner-style, despite the white linens. Although the dishes are authentic Italian ones, mostly, they bow to American preferences. The space is nice enough: two long rooms with upholstered armchairs, a skylight in the tin ceiling and dark wood paneling, alongside a long bar. The best dish we tried was a soup called vedova, a rather thick minestrone, strongly tomato-based, with a dollop of ricotta, some good basil pesto and a poached egg. The menu is long and varied but the simplest choices are best.
Bambu 75 Kercheval Ave., Grosse Pointe; 313-640-4115: Founded on the principles of elegance, creativity and freshness, Bambu has been serving for just about three years now. Lunchtime sees the largest crowds, drawn by creative panini varieties. For $9.50, order a Cubano panino filled with such pleasures as shaved prosciutto, honey turkey and avocado. The French Connection is packed with Black Forest ham and baby brie. Vegetarians will love the $7 Caprese panino, with its layers of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and pesto, or the Beyond Vegetarian panino, with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, artichokes and spinach. More panini come stuffed with chicken or turkey. There's even a Reuben panino. All of them are grill-pressed with precision. Dinner entrées are adjusted daily. There are three or four on a chalkboard at the entrance of the restaurant, generally covering the typical offerings of meat, fish and pasta. Desserts vary on a daily basis.
Beach Grill 24420 Jefferson, St. Clair Shores; 586-771-4455: From burgers and pizza on the spacious lakefront patio to Dom and filet mignon in the dining room, the Beach Grill caters to all. Smack-dab in the heart of St. Clair Shores' "Nautical Mile," the Beach Grill is just inside the Jefferson Beach Marina. The award-winning, colorful, 19,000-square-foot facility, designed by a noted architect, features towering glass windows with striking water views, a large outdoor deck and Tiki bar, a large dance floor, a video wall with SurroundSound, and is handicap accessible. The combination restaurant-nightclub-sports bar is a good place to eat, party, drink or look for a new sailing partner.
Blue Goose Inn 28911 E. Jefferson Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-296-0950: One east-side co-worker, when asked about Blue Goose, says simply, "Blue Goose rocks!" Billed as "the place for great food, cold drinks, fun times and rockin' music on the east side!" A fixture on Jefferson for almost a century, it has been a saloon, grocery store, speakeasy, inn and, finally, a bar and restaurant. The bill of fare includes appetizers, soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, pizza and a variety of seafood and steaks. Call ahead or see bluegooseinn.net to find out who'll be rockin' the joint on a given night.
Bucci Ristorante 20217 Mack, Grosse Pointe Woods; 313-882-1044: Throughout this east side restaurant, the surroundings are elegant, spacious, comfortable and relaxing, but the most coveted seats are the stools that pull up to the marble counter surrounding the open kitchen where diners can watch the theater that is cooking as an art. And many of the finished dishes are anything but staid, including gnocchi with smoked duck, "hot-hot" spaghetti and penne monteleone, as well as old classics (alla carbonara, parmigiana, Bolognese).
Buddy's Restaurant & Pizzeria 19163 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Woods; 313-884-7400: After living a full life as a neighborhood speakeasy, Buddy's original location on Conant Street only started pumping out its award-winning pizza in 1946. And even though it has expanded to nine locations all over southeastern Michigan, the fact that it regularly wins our readers' poll for Best Neighborhood Pizza proves it has clearly retained its neighborhood cred.
City Kitchen 16844 Kercheval St., Grosse Pointe Park; 313-882-6667: Just about everything at City Kitchen merits praise. One might quibble a bit about the price of the appetizers, but not their quality. The individual pizzas, baked in a wood-fired oven, are well worth a try, and the generously proportioned mains, most of which are priced in the mid-20s, include fire-roasted Lake Superior whitefish, halibut with garlic spinach, beet coulis and whipped potatoes, pecan-crusted pickerel adorned with dried apples and cherry butter, and pan-seared sea scallops that come with those a cremini mushroom risotto. Salmon, shrimp, perch and swordfish, most of which are served with creative pairings of vegetables and starch, are among other maritime offerings. The wine list contains many good values for less than $35, and desserts include Crme Brûlée and a pecan bourbon pie.
Da Edoardo Ristorante & Trattoria 19767 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Woods; 313-881-8540: Specializing in superb entrées, and featuring both a romantic and formal dining room as well as a more casual side, Da Edoardo has been a Gross Pointe fixture since 1978.
Dirty Dog Jazz Café 97 Kercheval Ave., Grosse Pointe Farms; 313-882-5299: Open since February 2008, jazz has a home on the east side in this pub-like setting. Owner Gretchen Valade, whose grandfather founded the clothing company Carhartt, Inc., a longtime jazz and music lover, wanted to bring jazz — good jazz performed in an upscale setting with fine food — to suburban Detroit.
Dylan's Raw Bar and Grill 15402 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Park; 313-884-6030: The 17 full-size entrées are quite reasonably priced at $11 to $19, but the main attraction here are the 40-odd small plates which, even more reasonably priced, average around $6. A hot appetizer combo platter — bruschetta, oysters Rockefeller, oysters Ozzies (brandy, mushrooms, shrimp and Asiago), roasted peppers and teriyaki stix — is available for $20. It is heartening to see an assortment of Michigan beers on tap.
Ferlito's 20745 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Woods; 313-882-1600: Neighborhood pizza joint's selections range from a variety of pies to noodles to barbecue.
Fishbone's Rhythm Kitchen Cafe 23722 Jefferson Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-498-3000: What began as a Creole-Cajun sort of establishment has now branched out in all directions, offering not just Nawlins-influenced fare but American and sushi as well. See their website for a detailed entertainment schedule.
Golden Chopsticks 24301 Jefferson Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-776-7711: Food quality varies widely, with sizzling rice soup and non-greasy potstickers a definite yes. Familiar Chinese menu includes moo shu pork, hunan chicken, kung pao everything, chop suey and egg foo young. Low sodium or low oil on request and a selection of vegetarian dinners.
Harvard Grill 16624 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Park; 313-882-9090: You can create your own omelet here, piling items on until you've created a 2,000-calorie breakfast bomb. Or, you can choose from the usual omelets. One interesting choice is the Irish omelet, with corned beef (natch), green pepper, onion and Swiss cheese. All omelets come with hash browns and toast.
The Hill Seafood & Chop House 123 Kerchaval, Grosse Pointe Farms; 313-886-8101: Many of the Hill's "signature dishes" cater to a Reagan-era notion of good eating — surf and turf, lots of blue cheese and bacon in the house salad. Seafood is a strong point: the grilled swordfish is tall and terrific and the calamari appetizer is out of the ordinary. Desserts are quintessentially American: the molten lava cake has a luscious liquid chocolate center.
Janet's Lunch 15033 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe Park; 313-331-5776: A place doesn't stay open for more than 70 years by chance. Founded in 1938, Janet's still serves such diner mainstays as hot beef, hot pork, hot turkey, mashed potatoes, soups made from scratch and homemade pies, including banana cream, apple, cherry and blueberry. There's fish after five every day, all day on Fridays. Great for eating alone, with 27 stools to choose from. Open 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Jumps 63 Kercheval St., Grosse Pointe Farms; 313-882-9555: The best choices, and best deals, are the appetizer samplers. Worth singling out for special praise are the thick and moist pork loin and fettuccine with chicken and house-made Italian sausage in cream sauce. The soups are reliable, and can include a big bowl of cream of asparagus, complex and rich, or a sweet roasted corn chowder, thin and buttery, with whole kernels. And the service is excellent, displaying a willingness to oblige by tweaking the dishes to patrons' desires. For dessert, Jumps serves ice cream from Ray's in Royal Oak as well as house-made treats.
Lazybones Smokehouse 27475 Groesbeck Hwy., Roseville; 586-775-7427: A bit removed from the swankier eating establishments of the Pointes, Lazybones goes for comfort in a big way. From the smiling pig mascot to the piled-high portions, this is the east side's beefiest bone yard. Or check out their party catering packages for game day.
Lucy's Tavern on the Hill 115 Kercheval Ave., Grosse Pointe Farms; 313-640-2020: This place is known in its lakeside neighborhood for burgers. Also offering local fish dishes and other tavern fare. Exceptional unique cuisine in warm comfortable surroundings, served with family pride.
Mack Avenue Diner 19841 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe; 313-886-0680: The virtual prototype of the friendly diner, with a cheery welcome from proprietors and staff, and a menu of down-to-earth dishes such as bean and chicken noodle soups, roast turkey, pastas and the house favorite, home fries with onions and sausage or bacon topped with cheese, known as the potato plate. As popular as it is unpretentious.
Mr. Paul's Chop House 29850 Groesbeck Hwy., Roseville; 586-777-7770: A good old steakhouse with Chateaubriand, lamb chops and steaks. The dimly lit, low-ceilinged, brick-walled structure can seat 200. At most of Paul's tables, at least one of the patrons, usually more, are there for the beef dishes that average a reasonable $25. The most popular is the Chateaubriand for two, another tableside extravaganza, that arrives flambéed from the kitchen. He usually hits his mark delivering the steaks as ordered with the tricky rare order especially carefully prepared. Although both are perfectly tender, the Black Angus New York sirloin is more flavorful than the fillet. Others in this genre are tournedos with Bordelaise sauce, veal Oscar and seldom-seen sautéed calf's liver with bacon or onions.
Moy's 21425 Greater Mack, St. Clair Shores; 586-772-6662: The friendly neighborhood Chinese takeout joint. (You know you'll want some sooner or later!)
Nautical Deli 23839 Jefferson St. Clair Shores; 586-776-9898: With everything baked, prepared and mixed every morning, the emphasis is on freshness. And the menu of soups, salads and sandwiches may not be pretentious, but it does offer a lot to choose from. Some of the sandwich names are creative, such as the "Guido" (ham, salami, capicola, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion and banana peppers w/ Italian dressing on a baguette) or the heated and grilled "Nautical Cordon Bleu" (crispy chicken tenders, ham and Swiss cheese w/ ranch dressing on a ciabatta loaf). And it's vegetarian-friendly, as the sammich menu's pulled pork and roast beef selections give way to triple-cheese and even tofu.
Original Pancake House 20273 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Woods; 313-884-4144: The quintessential breakfast, served all day, with the titular pancake still supreme and the omelet a close second. Do not confuse this with a chain pancake house. This one makes everything from scratch, and adheres to truth-in-menu honesty. No mixes or ersatz ingredients. Real cream, real butter, real maple syrup. Often a wait, but worth it.
Sanders Candy & Dessert Shop 16837 Kercheval St., Grosse Pointe Park; 313-882-4966: You'll find plenty of flavors of ice cream here: Moose Tracks, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Cookies and Cream, chocolate, strawberry, butter pecan, Mackinac Island Fudge, mint chip, black cherry, Bumpy Cake 'n' Cream and Superman. All can be made into sundaes, shakes, sodas, malts or Detroit Coolers (a Vernors ginger ale float).
Shores Inn 23410 Greater Mack, St. Clair Shores; 586-773-8940: Shores Inn specializes in regional and creative American cuisine. Featuring a huge dark wood bar. Enjoy one of more than 150 beers from around the world (ask about their "Hall of Foam"). About 60 diners can fit in their outdoor dining area. (Now, can anybody tell me what the acronym on the mascot's hat means?)
Sprout House 15233 Kercheval St., Grosse Pointe; 313-331-3200: The Sprout House is serious about their health and finds nutrition to be key in a long life. A sort of organic grocery, with produce, vitamins and health and beauty products, this place does a thriving carryout business in sandwiches and refrigerated prepared dishes. Offering vegan, organic dairy, organic chicken, soy cheese and vegetarian options, the store has preservative-, growth hormone- and antibiotic-free foods. Live healthy.
Steve's Back Room 24935 Jefferson Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-774-4545: Steve's is a back room no more. The 15-year-old eatery behind the swinging saloon doors of a grocery in Harper Woods is still open for lunch, but owner Steve Kalil has moved the main operation to the "Nautical Mile" of St. Clair Shores. The house specials feature what is best about Middle Eastern food: the sprightly flavors of lemon, garlic, parsley and olive oil, vegetables used in inventive ways, meat as a minor player. Desserts are standouts: try the apricots baked in liqueur, stuffed with pistachio nut butter and topped with yogurt, whipped cream, and sugared almonds. Or the "cream berry delight" — phyllo cups filled with a sweet pastry cheese, topped with whipped cream and strewn with fresh berries and raspberry sauce.
Trattoria Andiamo 20930 Mack, Grosse Pointe Woods; 313-886-9933: Reminiscent of a home-style restaurant in Italy, this friendly trattoria is just right for casual, family dining. Featuring a real brick pizza oven and big portions, Trattoria Andiamo also has a fabulous piano bar. Reservations accepted, extensive wine list, bar is cigar-friendly, handicap-accessible.
Travis Restaurant 23500 Greater Mack, St. Clair Shores; 586-778-0101: This is a quirky corner diner in the heart of St. Clair Shores. Walk in at 3 a.m. to find the night owls of the Nautical Mile bar scene intermingled with the locals grabbing a late night snack. Open 24 hours every day, Travis has it all, whether you grab an item off their breakfast menu or bite into a greasy but tasty burger.
Village Grille and Bar 16930 Kercheval St., Grosse Pointe; 313-882-4555: This small neighborhood joint's reliable food, friendly service and location, location, location often keep it full during the lunch hours.
Waves 24223 Jefferson Ave., St. Clair Shores; 586-773-3840: Eat under a thatched roof or schmooze at the bar — you can almost hear the waves slapping on the beach. Join other revelers slurping their tsunamis, a tropical version of Long Island iced tea, as blue as a swimming pool and served in a goldfish bowl with Gummy Worms on the bottom. Slurp clams on the half shell, so much tastier than oysters and served with lemon wedges, horseradish and a kicky cocktail sauce. Try the Montego Bay calamari, sautéed in butter with tomatoes, capers and white wine. Or sample one of the huli-grilled specialities, like the banana leaf-wrapped chicken and ribs.
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