Lobster mac and cheese at City Kitchen (Robin Buckson / The Detroit News)
When the space next door to City Kitchen became available, proprietor Chick Taylor decided to expand the dimensions of his popular Grosse Pointe restaurant. But he certainly didnít just break through a wall, slap on some paint and call it a day. The project took a full 14 months, with attention to every detail. When patrons got their first glimpse of the new space in late January, they realized why it took so long.
Itís replete with a hand-crafted oak back bar, a spacious zinc-topped bar, handsome artworks and lots of high-topped tables under an airy ceiling. Thereís just one booth for four tucked into a corner, and itís already a sought-after location.
The addition is well-timed for the restaurantís eighth anniversary, coming up in May.
During those eight years the restaurant, mostly known for its fish and seafood dishes and its correct service, has attracted a loyal clientele. The staff calls dozens of the guests by name. The new room ó and the very affordable bar menu that debuted with it ó should draw more than just the regulars to the location in the Village, as its Grosse Pointe neighborhood is known.
There are a handful of well-chosen selections.
Those who want just a nibble may have blue cheese dip and fresh hot potato chips, very much a sharable dish, or spicy chicken wings. Sturdier stuff includes chili made with prime rib and topped with cheddar cheese, chives, onion and sour cream, pot stickers filled with pork and accompanied by stir-fried vegetables and Asian dipping sauce, and shrimp and grits with andouille sausage. All are much more than bar snacks.
The star of the bar menu, however, is the certified Angus beef burger topped with lettuce, tomato and onion and served with savory french fries, and at $9.50 it qualifies as a genuine bargain.
The proprietor and his executive chef, Chris Thompson, both come from an original Joe Muer background, and they know their guests well. That means the full menu is also available in the new room. Simply prepared fish is chargrilled, blackened, fire-roasted, sauteed or fried and pretty much unadorned. No fancy sauces accompany the whitefish, trout, halibut or salmon, in the old Gratiot Avenue Joe Muer tradition, although City Kitchen does add tossed salad, a starch and vegetable to the equation. (At the original Muerís, you were lucky to get a sprig of parsley with your fish.)
Signature dishes are more detailed. They include seared or grilled scallops, Parmesan-crusted lemon sole and potato-crusted Lake Superior whitefish, each teamed with such trimmings as mushroom risotto, mango salsa or Yukon gold whipped potatoes as befits the dish.
ďDependableĒ is a word that describes the fare here. You will get a properly prepared dish served by a friendly, well-trained staff.
And thatís not faint praise.
16844 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe
Call (313) 882-6667
Rating: Three stars (out of four)
Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri., dinner 5-9:30 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 5-10 p.m.
Fri.-Sat., 4-9 p.m. Sun.
Prices: Bar menu $8.25-$17.75, appetizers $9.50-$13.75, soups and salads $4.25-$12.75,
sandwiches $8.75-$13.25, pizzas $10.75-$11.75, lunch entrees
$11.75-$15.75, dinner entrees, including salad and vegetable, $18.25-$34.95
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar
Noise level: Moderate
Wheelchair access: No barriers