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BERKLEY BISTRO CAFE - Berkley, MI

Berkley Bistro Cafe was featured on an episode of Dining in the D and we were told by a neighbor how great the food was so two nights ago we eagerly decided to make a visit.

Let me preface the review by saying the food was good. I guess maybe we just expected more and were, therefore, a little disappointed. The menu is a bit uninspiried. Learning of Chef Tom's credentials we assumed the food would be intersting and very good. I know we expect a lot, as we both have culinary degrees and owned a restaurant for a number of years, but I think we are always willing to give any restaurant a fair chance. In fact, several of our favorite restaurants are total dives but the food is outstanding!

Back to our meal...My wife ordered the BBC Salad. It was a nice salad with mixed greens, dried cherries, nuts and bleu cheese, but it's a salad that has been done at countless restaurants for almost a decade. I ordered the BBQ chicken. The chicken was moist and flavorful but the sauce was not exceptional. So I cannot say the food was bad...it just lacked that little extra that makes a restaurant excellent! There is absolutely no problem with the service at the BBC. Our server was knowledgable and very attentive.

SO...the long and short of it is that although there was nothing at all wrong with the restaurant we left knowing that we wouldn't be in any big hurry to return. I feel bad saying that because the owner seems like a very nice guy and so does Chef Tom. It really comes down to the fact that there are many new places to try and even more favorites that serve consistently excellent food that BBC just falls into the category of restaurants that serve good food for people that don't really like anything outside the usual box. We learned on our visit tha Chef Tom is the host of Dining in the D..so that may explain some things!

Has anybody else been there? Am I off base?

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  1. Never even heard of it! Where is it in Berkley, and what, exactly, is "Dining in the D"?

    1 Reply
    1. re: boagman

      Boagman, it is on Coolidge south of Eleven Mile. Dining in the D is a show that reviews area restaurants. They also have a blog that posts interesting info about food stuff in the area.

    2. Dining in the D was mentioned by JP some months ago and BBC was featured on the website (apparently there is a cable show as well). It is right next to Ellie's which is on my Eastern Europe specialties places to go list. I went at lunch time a month ago and struggled to find something on the menu that I hadn't had before. The server cajoled me into having the corned beef (Sy Ginsberg, my fave) because it was on house made rye bread.

      The sandwich was okay. Both the bread and meat are like one can have at many deli places in town.

      I am fully supportive of local restos keeping local people employed and keeping the money local as well via supply. But, $9.50 for the sandwich was a bit beyond what the Onion Roll, Plaza and Star do at an equivalent or even better level. Value is measured many ways. On that day I wish I had gone one parking lot further north to Ellie's to have something more original.

      3 Replies
      1. re: goatgolfer

        I don't want to hijack Jack Freeman's thread, but may I request a 1-liner on what is worthwhile at Ellie's. Then, I'll go to Ellie's and start my own thread. Thx

        1. re: VTB

          Hijack away!! I have tried Ellie's and really enjoyed their food. I had one of their specials and I can't remember what it was now. I just remember that it was a giant plate of good food and when I was done I was stuffed! Funny that GG made the comment about going one parking lot over because that is exactly what I was thinking as I sat in BBC!

        2. Thanks for your review. What I would like to know is what are your favorite restaurants? Especially the divey ones!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Rheta

            Rheta..perhaps "divey" was a bit harsh but I would consider Onion Roll, Polish Village and Scotty Simpsons on the not so upscale or best looking side but we frequent each because their food is really excellent! We found another great spot last Sunday, the Chocolate Gallery Cafe. It is a tiny hole in the wall with seemingly excellent food.

            Aside from those I would say my favorites, not divey..lol, are the usual suspects..Slows, Giovannis, Forest Grill, Tahlulla and our more recent favorite Cork Wine Pub.

            My wife and I made a rule this year that every other time we go out it will be to somewhere we have not been before, or at the very least a place we have not been to in a very long time, it's been a lot of fun! We hadn't been to Traffic Jam in ages and had a really wonderful dinner there last week.

          2. I've only been for breakfast...when they first opened they were Berkley Breakfast Club IIRC. Decent breakfast in the category of "menu that includes something with artichokes" as opposed to a "two eggs over easy with ham..." type place.

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            Berkley Breakfast Cafe
            1999 Coolidge Hwy, Berkley, MI 48072

            1. I too went here with my girlfriend hoping for something above average and was disappointed.
              Nothing was particularly enticing and everything came out far overcooked despite being asked how we preferred our food to be prepared.