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BERKLEY BISTRO CAFE - Berkley, MI

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Jack Freeman Feb 11, 2011 01:57 PM

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?

  1. d
    DinerintheD Apr 29, 2011 10:47 AM

    Chef Tom is no longer at the Berkley Bistro and Cafe. He's taking time out of the kitchen to work on "Dining in the D" and is pursuing some other restaurant possibilities.

    Since you're all a savvy bunch, I probably don't have to explain that what chefs are capable of doing aren't always reflected in the restaurants where they run the kitchen. Sometimes, they have talents and visions that owners or managers may not share. I don't mean that as a slam against any of the parties involved, but restaurants are businesses first.

    4 Replies
    1. re: DinerintheD
      g
      goatgolfer Nov 30, 2011 11:00 AM

      BBC is closed.

      1. re: goatgolfer
        j
        Jack Freeman Nov 30, 2011 09:21 PM

        When we visited in February I told my wife they would be closed in six months. They made it a bit longer than I thought they would! Can't say I'll miss them, I had no intention of returning!

        1. re: Jack Freeman
          coney with everything Jan 4, 2012 10:34 AM

          So...wanna buy a restaurant?
          http://detroit.craigslist.org/okl/bfs...

          1. re: coney with everything
            g
            gooddog Jan 4, 2012 12:03 PM

            They're asking $150k if anyone's interested.

    2. b
      barry769 Feb 18, 2011 06:22 AM

      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.

      1. coney with everything Feb 14, 2011 03:58 AM

        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.

        -----
        Berkley Breakfast Cafe
        1999 Coolidge Hwy, Berkley, MI 48072

        1. r
          Rheta Feb 11, 2011 04:33 PM

          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
            j
            Jack Freeman Feb 11, 2011 06:43 PM

            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. g
            goatgolfer Feb 11, 2011 04:25 PM

            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
              v
              VTB Feb 11, 2011 04:38 PM

              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
                j
                Jack Freeman Feb 11, 2011 06:21 PM

                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!

                1. re: VTB
                  g
                  goatgolfer Feb 11, 2011 07:48 PM

                  Just for you VTB. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/765595

              2. b
                boagman Feb 11, 2011 02:10 PM

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

                1 Reply
                1. re: boagman
                  j
                  Jack Freeman Feb 11, 2011 02:38 PM

                  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.

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