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Bistro 222 in Dearborn, MI

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I was unexpectedly locked-in to the Michigan Ave strip in Dearborn tonight for dinner. Since I hadn’t prepared and researched things, I stopped in to the first good looking place that caught my eye—Bistro 222. It was a little disappointing, food-wise. (Wish I’d had JanPrimus’ note on Amani’s)

This place has all the trappings of a nice restaurant: cool neighborhood, nice interior, proud floor staff and a reasonably interesting menu and wine list…oh, and meat entrées starting at $18+ (virtually a la carte). Anyway, to get to the bottom line, I had the crab cakes dinner, which included only a small side of dressed arugula.

The plate looked fancy, but crab was not discernible in taste, texture or visually. It was just a seared disc of fillers swimming in American aioli (classy aspiring chefs are gaga for this garlicky mayo), topped with gushing, swirly squirts of “balsamic” syrup. My kid’s entrée was the bbq chicken pizza (appetizer section), which was decent, but no better than any of the better local chains’ pizzas, while being more expensive due to ambiance (overhead).

For these two plates, plus a HOUSE red and a beer and tax/tip, my 4yr old and I were in for slightly over $50 as well as a tinge of regret/disappointment. Indeed, this place got me in the gut, in more ways than one. Granted, a single appetizer and a single entrée don’t make for a definitive sample size, but this is the limit of research I’m willing to extend at Bistro 222. Boy, the Mich Ave strip sure is looking good, though, given the economy. Ford Motor Company must really be doing as well as they portray.

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  1. Amani's went down hill I am sad to say....they have fallen off my recommended list.

    1. After sleeping on it, I really should add that everything was very edible, and every bite was indeed finished. It's just that the food on my single visit didn't live up to the promise I'd fairly or unfairly projected upon it.
      Next time: La Pita, then.

      12 Replies
      1. re: vtombrown

        After an initial reaction of "SHOCK! HORROR!" on my part, I thought about the numbers, and to be honest, they seem about right for the fare consumed. Assuming about $20 for a crabcakes entree (though I'd be a bit peeved with the "a la carte-ishness" of a $20 entree including only a very small, easy salad to go along with it...), $10 for the appetizer/pizza, $6 for the wine and $4 for the beer (give or take, obviously), you're already up to $40, tax it up to $42.40, and tip it out at a bit over $50, assuming a 20% tip. That's no longer sounding completely unfair.

        What's bad, though, is that the fare you consumed doesn't seem to be worth 2/3 of what you paid. Sure, the service may be great, and the atmosphere may be shiny-and-new, but when I go to a restaurant, the *primary* thing I'm paying for is, you guessed it: *food*. They've sort of fallen out of the boat, yet failed to get wet. Somewhere along the line, there's been a disconnect, and they're not realizing that, at least for someone like me, I'd be far happier in a complete dive of a place with a plastic tray and utensils, so long as the food was really, really good. *That's* the biggest key with me, personally.

        Based on this, *and* based on the fact that I can always go to La Pita or other places, I have no desire to go to Bistro 222. Honestly, if I'm really wanting to be "wowed" by a restaurant's atmosphere, and I'm in the Dearborn area, and it's lunchtime, I'm going to The Pool at the Henry Ford Estate. The food's pretty good (but nothing to really go crazy over at all), but the building and grounds are still, to this day, one of my favorite places to go to for atmosphere, as well as for great childhood memories.

        The difference? I couldn't spend $50 at The Pool if I *tried*, I don't think.

        And in the interest of full disclosure: yes, I'm quite frugal.

        -----
        La Pita
        22681 Newman St, Dearborn, MI 48124

        1. re: boagman

          What is all the hype about LaPita? I have lived in Dearborn my entire life, and there are plenty of Middle Eastern restaurants better than LaPita. I would not even classify LaPita as a Middle Eastern restaurant. They have Americanized all of their dishes. Sure, they have decent baba ghanouj and tabouli, but the true test lies in other dishes -- fattoush, hummous, falafel, etc. Their fattoush cannot be called fattoush. It tastes like a leftover Greek salad with no feta. Their fattoush does not even have sumac or pita chips in it -- two of the most important ingredients in fattoush. I repeat, it is not fattoush. It is simply a garden salad. Secondly, their hummous is terrible. Simply put, it has no flavor at all. Finally, their falafel is inedible. When I tasted it, I spit it out on my plate. Bleach was the first word I could think of. My mouth tasted of this nasty chemical for hours. Dearborn has the largest Arabic population outside of the Middle East. Please choose better restaurants than LaPita, a commerical chain for Christ's sake. Not to mention, sky-high prices. Peruse the east sides of Michigan Ave., Ford Rd., and Warren Ave. Al-Ameer has great authentic Middle Eastern Food. As does Al-Sultan in Inkster.

          1. re: MRPMRP

            Thank you! Finally someone else on here who thinks La Pita is Americanized.

            1. re: MRPMRP

              Please share your favorite places(& their locations) with us other than Al-Ameer & Al-Sultan. Thanks much!

              1. re: schaf1

                Al Sultan in Inkster has delicious food. So does Al Ameer. But, you must go to the Al Ameer in Dearborn, not Inkster/Dearborn Heights. It is located on Warren Ave. The fattoush at Al Sultan and Al Ameer is phenomenal. Once you eat fattoush at either of these places, you will never eat LaPita again! I promise! The hummous at Al-Sultan is the best hummous I have ever eaten. And I have had a lot of hummous. Another restaurant, Beirut By Night, has decent fattoush. They have flavorful grape leaves and great rice. They also have delicious tabouli. It is located in Dearborn Heights on Ford Rd. and Outer Drive. Try any of these places. Like I said, once you have Al-Sultan or Al Ameer's fattoush, you will never go back to LaPita. LaPita is American cuisine with Middle Eastern decor.

                I must repeat again... Al Sultan is my favorite Middle Eastern restaurant. The atmosphere is a bit coney-ish, but the food and service make up for it. The prices are cheap, as well.

                Try it. Let me know how it compares to LaPiss.

                -----
                Al Sultan Restaurant
                425 Inkster Rd, Garden City, MI 48135

                1. re: MRPMRP

                  Well, I still want to give La Pita a try, given that Boagman has steered me quite enjoyably over time. When I do, it is certain that I won't post either way about it, given the firestorm! Kind of like posting on the topic of whether Slows' BBQ service is acceptable or unacceptable... Call me a coward.

                  I just might, though, start a separate topic, going East side versus West side, regarding the institution of Al Ameer versus Lakeside Mall's upstart La Saj Bistro. That might stir the pot even more, come to think of it! "Mall" and "Bistro" will get emotions flowing, but the place is sweet.

                2. re: schaf1

                  I really like Cedarland in Dearborn. I agree that La Pita seems very mediocre compared to the wonderful alternatives we have in Detroit.
                  http://www.cedarlandrestaurants.com/

                  -----
                  La Pita
                  22681 Newman St, Dearborn, MI 48124

                  1. re: jhuston

                    And, see, I really, really disliked Cedarland when I was there. Not the people, not the place, not the service, mind you: it was the food. I was there (many years ago, so it might be fair to give it another try) at the behest of a buddy of mine, who practically *made me* eat some of that food, which I thought was lousy.

                    I think, in this case, there may just be a difference of what constitutes "good Middle Eastern food", in terms of taste.

                    1. re: jhuston

                      Thank you. We have so many alternatives. La Pita is definitely mediocre.

                  2. re: MRPMRP

                    I'm a huge fan. Granted, I'm not Arabic, and I've never been to the Middle East, but I recognize fresh ingredients, good preparation, great tastes, correct spicing...when I was at La Pita, it was almost universally amazing.

                    I'll be totally fair and say that I haven't had their hummous, but then, I just don't care for hummous, period. I'm not a fan of the chickpea. I believe that my brother likes the hummous quite a bit, though, and he's also a fan of their kibbie, and a couple of other things. He's the one that turned me on to the place.

                    As to whether it's been "Americanized" or not, that I'm completely uneducated about, since I don't have any "source" material to compare it to. And please: don't insist that "XXX place has *authentic* ME food", unless it's located somewhere in the Middle East. Really. Besides, not all things that have been "Americanized" are bad: Pi's Thai Cuisine sweetens up their tom yum soup to "suit American palates" according to them, and to great effect! It may well be my favorite soup *ever*, authentic or not. I honestly couldn't give a rip.

                    Actually, Al-Ameer's gotten a bit of a bad report from JanPrimus lately, and he used to be a super-strong supporter of them.

                    It may just be that our tastes are very different, but my experience at La Pita was amazing.

                    -----
                    Pi's Thai Cuisine
                    24940 John R Rd, Hazel Park, MI 48030

                    La Pita
                    22681 Newman St, Dearborn, MI 48124

                    1. re: boagman

                      Not not Al-Ameer...they are my goto place...It was Amani's is the one that went way down.

                      1. re: JanPrimus

                        Ah, nuts. My apologies. I got the two confused. I was a bit surprised when your go-to place suddenly went downhill, but figured that those things can happen. They both begin with "A" and what-not.

                        I'll have to try Al-Ameer in the future.

              2. La Pita is one of the best we have in Dearborn--and you cannot find more authentic Arabic (specifically, Lebanese) food than the food in Dearborn--trust me, I've eaten in Lebanon! Al Ajami is also really good, as is Country Chicken. La Pita is the only one that serves alcohol, and Country Chicken is a little less fancy--but they have the best hummous!

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                Country Chicken Restaurant
                5131 Schaefer Rd, Dearborn, MI 48126

                La Pita
                22681 Newman St, Dearborn, MI 48124