DETROIT, Southfield area [Moved from Elsewhere in America board]
Can anyone recommend a restaurant that serves good food, made with fresh ingredients, not greasy. There HAS to be fish on the menu, and fresh salads or vegetables.
It does not have to be a fancy place, good, fresh food is the key.
Thank you in advance.
Again, thank you for all the responses.
Here is my “report”: As it turned out, our “host” chose 2 of the 3 restaurants we dined in during our business trip to Southfield.
The first night we went to:
(Northwestern Highway just North of 12 Mile Road).
When we stepped in, I first thought “uh-oh”, but the food was surprisingly good.
My husband had:
GREAT LAKES WALLEYE, blackened, with sides of rice and vegetables.
According to my husband it was very good and fresh comfort type food. The Walleye seemed fresh and it was cooked to proper tenderness, and the spicing was good. (I could see that the fish was cooked just right). The sides were good, nothing special, but fresh and not overcooked.
PASTA ORLEANS, (their “most famous” dish), which consisted of: Fettuccine sautéed with shrimp, crawfish, crab meat, mushrooms, tomatoes & some green onion in pesto-cream sauce with Asiago cheese.
(I had to have this dish since I still dream about a beautiful crawfish pasta I had in New Orleans about 15 years ago in a small restaurant, the name of which I unfortunately forgot).
I was happy to notice that the shrimp and the crawfish & crabmeat were all perfectly cooked: tender, but not too rare. Since I love vegetables I would have enjoyed a bit more of them in the dish, but what was there, was enjoyable. The pesto cream sauce, while good, was too heavy on cream for my taste; I think the cream overpowered the other flavors a bit. (More pesto & way less cream would be better). I got so full that I could not finish most of the pasta itself, but I did pick out all the seafood and the veggies and ate some of the pasta.
We also had a salad, which was sort of a typical boring diner salad concoction, with too much iceberg lettuce.
I wish some of these kinds of restaurants would be ambitious enough to create one or two special house dressings and drop the “what kind of dressing would you like with that?”-act; leaving you to “choose” between the usual boring suspects of standard dressings that are the same from coast to coast.
Our host had a burger, which he said was good. I will take his word for it: it did not look that great to me, but then again, I never eat (red meat) burgers. (I do eat tuna burgers).
On the third night (I will report on the 2nd night last) I was actually willing to go back to Fishbone’s, but our host took us to
(Orchard Lake Road, Farmington Hills) (I’m dropping these addresses as if I knew where in the world I was, but in truth, I had no clue where I was and how to get where, I took the restaurants’ cards with me to remember the information).
This restaurant, which is located in the middle of a strip mall and from outside looks a bit tacky, was a truly happy surprise. We have not had this good Indian food in a long, long time. It beats all the casual Indian restaurants we have dined in (in New York) in years! The food is skillfully prepared, fresh, not greasy, and has very nice, different flavors that you can actually taste, since the flavors are not all drowned in a swamp of different fats and mush (like, unfortunately, often is the case in New York).
My husband and I shared:
SHRIMP BIRYANI & TANDOORI SHRIMP DISHES.
The shrimp Biryani, i.e. jumbo shrimps in Biryani rice with herbs and spices, was very spicy (I asked for it, and loved it), with a side of very nice cucumber Raita, which cooled the hot spiciness. All flavors were clean. The Biryani rice was perfectly cooked (unlike the mushy Biryani rice we have often been served in New York) and not choked with any “sauce”.
The tandoori shrimp was also very tasty & wonderfully spiced.
We could not believe how tasty it was, and just gobbled up everything.
We also shared a Paratha, which –unlike many of it’s New York counterparts- was not greasy.
Our host had a lamb dish; I did not pay attention to which one he ordered. I did not taste it, but he said he liked it.
Bombay Grille also has a wine list that, while not extensive by any means, is better thought out than what we are used to seeing in Indian restaurants in New York.
We enjoyed a Columbia Crest Merlot, 2004. A good match for all our foods.
Now I am sitting here in New York, wishing we had a copy of Bombay Grille in Brooklyn. We are going back to Detroit in the future, so maybe we get to re-visit this restaurant.
Now to our second night, when my husband and I were by ourselves. I remembered the recommendations from here, and also asked the hotel. Since they recommended a restaurant that was also mentioned here, I thought, great, let’s try it.
(25485 Telegraph Road, Southfield)
The welcome and the service was very friendly, they clearly tried.
We had a good appetizer: AVOCADO BLINIS WITH LUMP CRAB MEAT, scallions and butter sauce. Very tasty, even though a bit heavy. But even my husband, who hates buttery food, enjoyed this dish.
This dish was on a separate little menu, and we should have probably stayed with this menu and selected a few “small’ dishes from it, since (in hindsight) it seemed to be the more ambitious –or more inspired menu. (?) If you can call a menu, that obviously is identical in all the “Muer”-chain restaurants, inspired.
Unfortunately our happiness ended there.
Both our main courses (fish) were pretty abysmal. We ordered:
-NORTH ATLANTIC SOLE, blackened. Sides: "seasonal” vegetables & herbed rice.
-SALMON ROCKEFELLER. Stuffed with bacon, jumbo lump crab & béarnaise sauce. Sides: "seasonal” vegetables & herbed rice. (This dish was the waiter’s recommendation). (Silly me, I know perfectly well not to rely on waiter’s recommendations –not because many of them do not have excellent taste, but because I do not necessarily share their taste.)
The fish itself was pretty fresh, but
the sole was undercooked - almost raw- and
the salmon severely overcooked - it was dry.
The sides were so pitiful that I did not touch them. The sauce on the fish was like a hard crust (not intentionally). I cannot not fathom how it could become hard like that. Unless the dish was prepared in advance and then put in the oven to get warm, when it was ordered. (?) Which would explain how a piece of salmon was cooked into oblivion. Now that I think of it, I do not recollect any crabmeat in the dish. Maybe it was crumbed, placed under the Béarnaise sauce -and turned into heat-dried crust together with the Béarnaise sauce.
-We both cook a lot, mostly fish & seafood, since my husband does not eat red meat. I know fish inside and out.
(For decades of my life I spent my summers on an island where I either got (minutes ago caught) fish from the fisherman who sold the island to my family - or I did the fishing myself –and then cleaned and cooked the fish myself. I know fish; I can see when it’s fresh; I know how to cook it. I cannot tell you how much sole I have eaten in my life -and cooked.)
I saw my husband’s sole - I tasted it; it was raw.
We were working hard during this business trip; in the evenings we were way too exhausted to be our fussy and snappy selves. Also, since we were clearly “out of towners”, we sort of wanted to be polite… or at least not come off as obnoxious New Yorkers.
But my husband did send the sole back, after very politely explaining that it is undercooked. The waitress apologized and asked if he wants “a new piece of the fish or the same piece cooked more”. (!) My husband said: “Do what is right”.
He got the same pieces back, delivered by the chef - but I do not know why the chef came out, because he did not apologize.
I could be totally wrong here, but I sensed this “vibe” that we should not further complain. (But, as I said, I might be wrong; maybe chef wanted to give us a chance to complain.)
But we did not; I was just too hungry and tired to deal with it all, to complain. I just wanted to get out of there, fast.
The weird thing is that the sole was STILL almost undercooked. So my husband just picked at it and left the most of what was left.
I love (good) rice, but could not eat this “herbed” short grain rice. It tasted weird and was, IMO, overcooked. The sluggish asparagus looked like it had been dead and buried and dug up to be warmed up again. (It was yellowish, and definitely not al dente). Yikes.
Sorry. While the staff seemed friendly, based on this dining experience, I cannot recommend this place and would not go back. Too many items were cooked wrong.
As for their "famous" teacup bread and honey/cinnamon butter: I personally do not feel like starting a meal with something so sweet.
Actually it reminded me of a freshly cooked cinnamon bun. I love REAL cinnamon buns, but I do not start my dinners with one. But I was so hungry that I ate most of it (my own fault, no-one forced me) and then felt disgusted, since, while it was OK per se, sweets on an empty stomach never worked for me. They should serve it at the end of the meal.
-I prefer simple crisp baguette or other neutral tasting bread before and during dinner, so that I can cleanse my palate, if needed.
Now that I know a little bit more about the area: On our next trip to Southfield I will make sure that we check out some more of the restaurant suggestions here on Chowhound. I definitely want to try Sweet Lorraine’s, for example.
Wow . . . thanks for the report! There are a lot of Indians, and a lot of Indian restaurants, in the western suburbs, but I didn't know they'd impress a New Yorker. Priya on Grand River in Farmington is another one to try. Fishbone's is indeed better than the design would suggest. Also try some of our Arabic places next time--Pine Land Restaurant on Middlebelt has some pretty exotic stuff (lamb brains, anyone?) that might be rare even in NYC.
re: Jim M
Thank you for the new tips, Jim, I saved them on my cell phone.
The Indian restaurants in New York that I was referring to are casual "neighborhood" restaurants, some of them in Manhattan, some in Brooklyn.
The upscale Indian restaurants are a different story, but so expensive that it would have been unfair to compare Bombay Grille with them.
But yes, we were impressed.
A few days after we came back to NY, we had lunch at one neighborhood Indian, Joy, on Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn. We ordered some of the same dishes that we had so enjoyed at Bombay Grille. It was like night and day. After Michigan, the difference was startling.
So, probably from now on, we will drop the neighborhood Indian restaurants, and only dine in a chosen few (good) Indian restaurants in New York. (Which are all at least a 25 minute commute from our us).
I recommend Pronto! on Washington in Royal Oak. I'm sure they have an online menu if you want see their offerings, but, from experience, I know they have yummy salads and sandwiches, delicious soups, and decent drink offerings. They have a wonderful bakery, as well.
They've undergone an ownership change within the past year or two, but Giorgio's on Greenfield @ Lincoln in Soutfield/Oak Park was a long time fave when we lived in the area. It's a very simple diner space with a mix of upscale Italian and traditional diner fare. Used to run excellent whitefish specials and had great salads and hand-made fresh pastas with traditional Italian sauces (excellent Bolognese, Carbonara, etc.).
Not in Southfield but easy to get to is one my favorites - Diamond Jim Brady's in Novi located in the Novi Town Center by the shows. Tom Brady is a gracious host and Mary Brady is almost always in the kitchen. She is a master chef and always has fish on the menu. Everything is very fresh and beautifully prepared. I think it is an overlooked treasure. - Bob
The enduring favorite for the fresh foods/salads type of menu in Southfield is Sweet Lorraine's at 29101 Greenfield, north of 12 Mile Road ( http://www.sweetlorraines.com ). There are now several other locations, but the one iin S'field is the original, and I think it has a pleasantly funky vibe that's missing at the others. Always several fish dishes on the menu. There's also a branch of another local favorite, Tom's Oyster Bar on Franklin near Northwestern Hwy. in Southfield (bring the phone number with you; it's a little tricky to find if you don't know that corner) -- they always have good, straightforwardly prepared Great Lakes fish, which Sweet Lorraine's would not necessarily have (though they might). This time of year the dinners would probably have fresh corn on the cob as well as other veggies, and the oysters are good, too!
re: Jim M
That location for Tom's Oyster Bar closed a few years ago, unfortunately.
There is still one in Royal Oak, though, not very far from Southfield.
There are a lot of good places near Southfield, if not exactly in Southfield. Beverly Hills Grill in Beverly Hills (13 and Southfield), Bacco on Northwestern Hwy (pricey but excellent), Tavern on 13 is pretty good (also 13 and Southfield). My personal favorites for seafood are in Birmingham: Streetside Seafood, and Mitchell's. Northern Lakes on Woodward in Bloomfield Hills is good too.
re: Jim M
I second the recommendation for Sweet Lorraines. Veg friendly, something for everyone including fish, and very tasty. They'll let you call in to get your name in line if they're busy.
Otherwise, downtown Royal Oak is basically a giant food court/restaurant theme park. Wander around on a nice evening and see what catches your fancy.