The trend of using wood rescued from old structures in restaurant décor is rampant on the local scene. All across town, from Birmingham's The Stand to Corktown's Gold Cash Gold and the West Village's Craft Work, restaurants are proudly showing off the history they've salvaged.
Chuck Muer was way ahead of them. He lavished Charley's Crab, his flagship restaurant, with the massive wooden beams, elaborate carvings and beveled glass bay window salvaged from the circa 1929 Alvan Macauley mansion in Grosse Pointe Shores when it was about to be demolished. An entire room was saved, and its vintage splendor lives on, in the building that now houses Lakes, a seafood restaurant as was its predecessor.
If the name Lakes doesn't ring an immediate bell, that's because for many years it was known as Northern Lakes Seafood Company.
It moved from its Bloomfield Hills location a year ago into the Troy spot, and the name change followed. It served dinner only until recently, when weekday lunch was added to the schedule, with a menu including a number of entrée salads and a list of sandwiches that ranges from crab sliders and mahi mahi tacos to the PBLT — the PB standing for pork belly, of course. Adding a humorous touch is "surf and turf" — a pair of corn dogs, one lobster and the other chorizo, each with its own dipping sauce and a little pricey at $19.
New England clam chowder is the soup at both lunch and dinner, and it's a sturdy version of the dish, with lots of potatoes giving it heft. Delightfully, the creaminess isn't over the top.
At dinner, the menu features elaborate seafood dishes such as lobster and scallop risotto, salmon steamed in banana leaf, and some housemade pastas from the kitchen of chef Michael D'Angelo, who comes by pastas naturally.
Lakes is one of the Epicurean Group restaurants (siblings include Coach Insignia, Novi Chophouse, Atwater in the Park and Plaza Deli), and while seafood is emphasized, some dishes seem to come from left field — notably pulled pork, smoked pork belly, fish tacos and chicken and waffles. Chicken and waffles?
Lakes still has the feeling of a place trying to settle in, and that's understandable. The move across town left a longtime customer base behind. And it takes time to develop a new following. Combine that with the increased competition across the board, and it has its work cut out for it. One way Lakes is trying to make its mark is by offering a generous happy hour in the bar that lasts from 3-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and on Friday from 3 p.m. to close.
5500 Crooks Road, Troy
Call: (248) 646-7900
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday, 5-11 p.m. Saturday, 5-9 p.m. Sunday
Prices: Appetizers $9-$15, lunch salads and sandwiches 10-$16, lunch entrees $14-$21, dinner entrees $18-$38.
Credit cards: All major.
Liquor: Full bar and beer and wine lists that spotlight local products
Noise level: Low
Parking: Attached lot
Wheelchair access: No barriers