St. Clair Shores calls the stretch of Jefferson between Nine and 10 Mile roads “The Nautical Mile” for good reason. It is alive with marinas, boat works and waterfront restaurants that take advantage of summer in Michigan.
One of the most appealing of the restaurants on that stretch is not the biggest or flashiest, but it’s a place people look forward to every spring when it opens in late March for its yearly summer run in the Michigan Harbor marina.
This is the sixth season for hands-on proprietor Mike Lefevre’s hot spot, Mike’s on the Water, a place with a personality that reflects its owner. There’s something just a little extra at Mike’s, from the seasonal approach to the menu that features an array of well-prepared fish and seafood to the friendly service and the bar with a wine list that features labels with a water theme.
Two bars, actually. One is on the open air deck and the other inside. There are many seating options here, including a covered porch as well as the deck on the canal that runs by the restaurant.
The kitchen is in the hands of executive chef Maurice Webb, who has been with Mike’s since it opened, giving a nice sense of continuity to a menu that includes both the expected and unexpected. It offers much more than just appealing snacks, although I certainly recommend the fresh pretzels served hot from the kitchen and the smoked whitefish dip.
Among the more substantial dishes are pan-seared mahi-mahi, New York strip steak and baked Canadian salmon, all nicely garnished. That doesn’t mean that one or another of the several varieties of burger aren’t flying out of the kitchen. Choices include the classic Angus burger with lettuce, tomato and pickle, or its cousin, the cheeseburger. Salmon and turkey burgers round out the category. A nice change from the standard fries are sweet potato fries that team well with the burgers.
Three years ago, Mike’s added lobster rolls to the menu, and to say the East Coast favorite has been a success is an understatement. The restaurant keeps a tally of the numbers and as of last week, an amazing 15,110 of the grilled buns filled with lemon-sparked salad made with the claws and knuckles of the lobster have been sold. Lobster rolls are available in singles ($9.95) and doubles ($17.95) and they are noteworthy.
And so are the tender little filets of fresh lake perch, lightly fried or sauteed, as mine were on one visit, accompanied by a little cup of crisp coleslaw. The price structure is also noteworthy. Shrimp cocktails are just $6 all day.
Mike added dessert to the menu for the first time last year when he found an old-fashioned ice cream truck that he bought and parked permanently outside the restaurant. It offers an array of ice cream bars for those who don’t think lunch or dinner is complete without a sweet ending.
And speaking of endings, Mike’s will close its sixth season at the end of October.
Mike’s on the Water
24600 Jefferson, St. Clair Shores
Call: (586) 872-2630
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., noon-9 p.m. Sun. (Bar later).
Prices: Appetizers $5.95-$10.50, salads and sandwiches $6.95-$17.95, burgers $5.75-$8.95, entrees $10.95-$21.50, desserts from the ice cream truck outside the deck.
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar
Noise level: Moderate
Parking: Large attached lot
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★ — good
★★1/2 — very good
★★★ — excellent
★★★★ — outstanding