Anyone been to Lily's Seafood in Royal Oak MI?
We're headed to this place tomorrow night for NYE dinner with family. Just curious if anyone has any recommendations, or of course if you've had a terrible experience we'd rather know now so we can change our reservation. :)
Thanks in advance!
I met my husband and his parents at this restaurant for NYE 2009. There was a special menu for NYE, which made me hopeful since I'd heard quite mixed reviews of the food here. This was not a good experience.
First, service: For starters, the staff at the front of the house were disorganized and responded sarcastically to my husband's request for a table far away from the smoking section of the restaurant. They did not seem eager to please us or happy to be there. I also noticed some less than friendly exchanges between two of the hostesses at the entrance--right in front of me! Of course ,it was NYE, and I'm sure no one really wanted to be working, but this is supposed to be a fine dining establishment and one would hope that the workers are trained in how to be welcoming to customers or at least how to act in a welcoming manner.
Additionally, our server did not seem to be well-prepared. She was not very familiar with or able to answer questions about the special NYE menu. When I asked about one of the desserts, she had to go ask the chef, and returned almost ten minutes later with the answer. Also, I waited a long time between water refills, and in general we did not feel as though the server really cared whether we were there or not.
First of all, I'm someone who will put up with rude, incompetent, or indifferent service for really good food. This was unfortunately not what we encountered.
I ordered the seafood lasagna (shrimp and scallops). The scallops were so tough and overcooked I had to saw through them with my butter knife, and the shrimp were similarly rubbery. The red sauce was not good--very salty, and with no real flavor. The saffron-based yellow sauce surrounding the lasagna was strange and bore no relation to the lasagna itself. Additionally I noticed that when the server put the food down, it had a strange burned rubber sort of smell. It was just unappetizing in general.
Because I wanted to get the taste of that horrible lasagna out of my mouth, I asked about one of the desserts (the one the server had to ask the chef about), and it was an unappetizing-sounding parfait comprising some combination of scottish oatmeal with whiskey cream and raspberries. Because I had little faith in the quality of the food by this point (and because I thought that the flavors didn't work at all in my lasagna, so there seemed to me to be some sort of inability to combine interesting flavors), I didn't want to take a chance and ordered the much safer chocolate mousse, which was OK, but nothing special.
My spouse ordered the salmon, which was pan fried. I didn't try his salmon, but he said on the way home that it was burned and overdone as well. He also reported that his meal was very salty and seemed to have little other seasoning than salt.
Both my husband and his father were underwhelmed with the beer, which they had looked forward to with anticipation since Lily's has a microbrewery. On the way home, my husband (who is lover of fine beers!) said that he was so disappointed in the beer that he'd rather have had a Budweiser. My father in law didn't make any comments at the table, but he only had one beer--first time I've ever seen him have just one beer! He also refrained from making any comment about the food, which speaks volumes about the experience. He is a very experienced traveler and diner and knows a lot about food, and usually will comment if something is very good. He said nothing.
My experience was not disgusting--I did not really worry that I'd become ill from eating here, though I was quite queasy later that night--but I thought that the food was very subpar and I would not return, especially at those prices (my lasagna was, I think, around $18, and the salmon was similarly priced!). It is really unusual for me to be so displeased with a restaurant, but Lily's needs to earn its high food prices and maybe hire new managers. The whole thing just seemed off to me. I am not someone who writes a review like this lightly, because I know that running a restaurant and being a chef is hard work and I don't like to be unforgiving. But they need to stop resting on their laurels where food and service are concerned.
410 S Washington Ave, Royal Oak, MI 48067
re: Jim M
I really do take writing negative reviews very seriously. I teach, and know what negative evaluations can do to your mental state even when they aren't valid. But this one is valid. I feel like it's our duty to be honest in all cases, even when one must be negative.
Glad you found it helpful.
Nothing wrong with being honest, IG. I'm nothing shy of *brutally* honest, and maybe that's not the best thing all the time. I do try to be even-handed, though, so I make sure to post praises when they're due, and when I've a right to complain, I can be downright vitriolic. It can be a turn-off, and I understand that, but there is room for "underwhelming" in my vocabulary, too. The problem is that when I've been truly pushed too far, there's just no pulling punches with me. It might not be the fairest system there ever was, but it works for me.
The Inn Season Cafe in Royal Oak is still one of my most hated places ever. I will never, *ever* give them anything but grief. They deserve it, no matter how many people come to its defense. Any establishment which treats clients like second-class people can just shrivel up and die. I refuse to apologize for that.
Then again, I post often about how good places can be, like my recent experiences at La Pita, Iridescence, Blue Ox BBQ, et cetera. It cuts both ways, you see. That's all anyone really needs: basic objectivity. I still have it, even if it's hard to see through the vitriol sometimes.
Boagman, I couldn't agree with you more on the Inn Season. Been twice....second time after sitting for ten minutes they couldn't even be bothered to bring water and say, "we'll be with you in a minute". There was only one other table seated in the place...we left and no one even questioned why...thought it was just me so thanks for confirming it wasn't an "off" night.
The chef was on Fox news this past Sunday morning and while the dish looked wonderful, I won't cross their doorway again.
Lily's will probably be fine, but probably nothing special for NYE. I'd expect a limited menu (Specials!) - It helps the kitchen and turns over the tables more quickly. Just
keep you expectations reasonable/low.
I continue to visit Lily's ... for lunch with friends. Due to the one  service disaster, the
only way my wife will return, is if it a "group" dinner, arranged by others.
I've been several times. I consider the food to be mostly average; sometimes
they delight, sometimes it's a enough of a disappointment that I send it back.
(Very unusual for me.)
They have a microbrewery on-site ... very good; but certainly not up to Dragon
Mead. I do buy their beer in growlers (take home). Sigh - if only DragonMead
was closer to home.
One time we had a service disaster. When serving the entree, the waiter spilled
a large (12 oz) water glass ... knocking every last drop into my wife's lap. He did
not [re]act ... just stood there ... frozen. "We need towels." Nothing. "NOW!" He
scurried off and returned with two [count'm 2] pleats from a roll of paper towels.
I had to go into the kitchen myself to commandeer the towels required to sop up
the mess. He just stood there. The other waitstaff was happy to just observe ...
I almost always tip 20%. That night I tipped precisely zero.
As we were leaving, the hostess (unaware) asked, "How was everything?" Do
you really want to know? "Ummm ..." I explained the problem. Her reply was
was, "Ummm ... the manager isn't available."
Nothing resembling an apology was offered. I did not ask for any consideration
and none was offered.
I attempted to follow-up with management a few days later by phone. No
acknowledgement, no interest, no apology.
On NYE, I suggest setting your expectations to "Low."
> Dragon Mead
>> Really? It's only 15 minutes one way via 696. I'm surprised that would keep a beer
>> person from the good stuff.
I typically meet friends at Lilly's for lunch and a beer. Their lunch "hour" won't
accommodate the extra time a visit to Dragon Mead requires. It's good craft beer
with great friends ... beats great beer by myself! (Usually.) <g>
A friend recommended it to us a year or two ago- we were thoroughly underwhelmed. Everything was just bland and uninspired. We had the frog leg appetizer, which was served still on the hips. Those were fine. I had some really simply prepared thing- either the platter or the shrimp and scallops. I knew it was simple, but there was nothing on it besides salt. My husband had something with a "spicy" broth that was barely spicy.
The beer was just bad.