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Detroit or Suburbs Area - BDAY Dinner

Hi all --

So LA chowhounder here. I'm in the Detroit area with my husband on business (yes, you read right!) for the next few months and this upcoming weekend is my husband's birthday. Looking for a good place for dinner -- not too fancy, a place where we can wear nice jeans and a top.

He's already been to Roast so we can count that out. And we really like regional cooking. If there's a good restaurant on a lake, that's a plus (but not mandatory) -- that's something we don't have in Los Angeles.

We're staying in Royal Oak (and have pretty much done all the restaurants here). Don't mind driving outside of Detroit metro - maybe 30 or 40 minutes out or even more. We'd make a day of it. We like exploring!

Oh and we like pretty much everything minus Indian. We're open on the budget too -- like it to be nice, but we really didn't bring the clothing for anything super fancy. We like good food and something specific to the region. Seafood is always good. Italian. Etc.

Many thanks!

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  1. djbistro.com - Fits all of your requirements. :)

    1. For a place on a lake, try "A Matter of Taste" in Commerce Township. The outdoor patio overlooking the lake (Union Lake I think) is pretty great. You will be swearing to yourself getting there - through the maze of lakes and XX Lake Roads, but it will be worth it. The food is not as food as Diamand Jim's - another rec - but the setting will make up for it.
      Is your business here related to the movie industry?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Markcron

        Funny, I was just going to recommend It's a Matter of Taste......http://www.matteroftaste.net/index.html.
        You would need to call today and make reservations and ask to sit out on the patio. I agree about the drive, but you will also see some beautiful homes along the way.

      2. I would love to see an eastsider recommend someplace on Lake St. Clair. We've seen a lot of restaurant/bar places but don't know if any of them are good. Kitchen NIghtmares was at one of those restaurants, IIRC.

        Portofino in Wyandotte on the Detroit River was pretty good, but haven't been recently.

        1 Reply
        1. re: coney with everything

          That would be Jack's Waterfront on Jefferson, just north of Nine Mile. (The Nautical Mile). BTW...shortly after the Ramsey menu makeover, Jack's went back to it's original offerings. So, nothing unique is left from the tv exposure.

        2. Mac n Rays on Lake St. Clair for Sunday brunch is very nice and directly on the water. If you are into a drive I would suggest heading over to New Baltimore (I-94 to 26 mile) up up along the Lake to Port Huron.
          You will pass a number of very good places and finding your own spot can be a lot of fun. There are several good choices alog the way. The River Crab near St. Clair is probably the best and it's a pretty drive for this area. There are many other options on the water along the way.



          1. Thanks for everyone's recs. I made reservations for "Matter of Taste" as it was also recommended by someone over the weekend and looks like an area where we haven't been before (and we like nice, scenic drives). We actually spent a day exploring and have been over to New Baltimore/Pt Heron (and had burgers at a fun pub place, think called "the shack"). Thanks again (and yes, my husband is here on a movie -- as of three weeks ago, I think there were two films being shot in LA vs about 10 in Michigan!).

            2 Replies
            1. re: Silverlaker

              Friendly advice. Before you head out this way print a map or get a local one from AAA. It's very easy to get lost in this area and it's not just a mile back around the block. ;)
              If you are here longer I would suggest exploring Windsor a bit as well or perhaps Ann Arbor.

              1. re: Fritter

                Can you believe my passport just expired so I guess I can't go to Canada in the near future. I ran into someone who recommended The Hill at Gross Point, another area we haven't gone to. We went to Ann Arbor for the art fair. I like towns near lakes as it's something different than what I'm used to out in LA. My husband has maps galore, thanks! He's really good at that. :)

            2. If you haven't been - I would also add Seldom Blues to your birthday list. Its on the river downtown, and the view is great. On most nights there is live music (which can make it hard to talk at times).

              1. Before you go back to the Left Coast, honestly, you MUST try the offerings at Louisiana Creole Gumbo shop on Gratiot at Vernor Highway. Just east of downtown Detroit. Do "take out". I promise. You will take away a memory of Detroit that will make you sigh.

                2 Replies
                1. re: RedTop


                  Wow, RedTop, I've been here my entire *life*, and I'm unfamiliar with this place. Honest Creole cookin'? I'll have to try it!

                  1. re: RedTop

                    good call. i have been there a few times and it is good stuff.

                    steady stream of carry out customers (including detroit cops) at lunch time speaks volumes.

                  2. Just out of Idle curiosity has any one been to Sinbads in recent hisory?


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Fritter

                      Yeah, I went there a few times with friends. Definitely old-school food, but it has changed very little and is a pleasant place to sit on the water in the city and have drinks and simple fish or meat dishes.

                      Have noticed the gumbo shop and heard good things about it from downtown workers (it's popular at lunch for takeout), but have yet to try it.

                      1. re: Jim M

                        When I was much younger they opened a Sinbads (same owners) on a causeway in greater Daytona. I knew the Chef and he needed some help and I gave them a hand on a couple of Sundays. I still remember being up to mu eye balls in waffles. I think that's long gone. I have never been to the original in Detroit.
                        I had never even heard of the gumbo shop!

                    2. You MUST dine here before you leave. MUSTMUSTMUST:


                      7 Replies
                        1. re: Silverlaker

                          The chef is Brian Polcyn who co-wrote the book Charcuterie with Michael Ruhlman (btw they are discussing a follow up book). He was also a part of Michael Ruhlman's book "Soul of a Chef". He also has a restaurant in Milford that was called Five Lakes Grill but is not being scraped for a Mexican restaurant.

                          He is a solid chef and you should enjoy. It is not jeans and t-shirts...but it is worth dressing up for.

                          1. re: Silverlaker

                            It's in Birmingham. 2009 Hour magazine restaurant of the year which is one of the more prestigous awards (IMO) in our area.
                            The Chef used to work with Milos Cihelka who is one of the few Master Chef's in the country. No water but down town Birmingham is like Hollywood only more money. LOL
                            A lot of fun to walk around in the evening. Very safe and clean area. There are a lot of small lakes in the area but not down town.
                            He also has the Five Lakes Grill in Milford and that should be in the drive time you mentioned.


                            1. re: Fritter

                              Fritter...look up at the link I posted...

                              Five Lakes Grill is no more...

                              It is now Cinco Lagos

                              1. re: JanPrimus

                                I'm batting a thousand on closed restaurants!

                                1. re: Fritter

                                  i am pretty sure that i read that it is still his place, he just changed it up.

                                  1. re: xman887

                                    Yep...again...read the article I linked to for more info.

                        2. Thanks all for the recommendations. We ended up getting in at Forrest Grill which was fantastic! Hubby really enjoyed his dinner. Next week, we are hoping to try dinner on a lake (which was our original plan), will probably try The River Crab.