New marina restaurant loves local, looks beyond summer

Molly Abraham

The name of the new spot on the Nautical Mile is apropos in more ways than one. It refers not only to the lake on which it is perched, but also to the menu, which departs from the usual marina offerings to be, as the French would put it, more au courant.

The Current, while not cutting edge, does take full advantage of local talent — from the beers on tap and the Great Lakes fish, the chocolate-caramel pie from Rock City and the Michigan cherry cobbler ice cream from Treat Dreams, right down to the Detroit Artists Market artwork on the walls and the Motown background music.

The all-day menu is correctly focused, offering the almost-obligatory burger, clam chowder and fish and chips, but also adding some unexpected items: the Great Lakes ceviche, for example, a mix of lime-marinated fish and shrimp served with avocado and chips. It's on the appetizer list, as are egg rolls with Reuben sandwich fillings, and stalks of fried asparagus with aioli.

Sandwiches — or hand helds as the menu calls them — include a few more surprises, such as blackened lake perch tacos and blackened steelhead trout with bacon, lettuce and tomato, the house version of the BLT. Chef Marc Bowser has a nice hand with fish, and my favorite dish in two visits was an entrée of walleye with a crispy crust of potato chips — Better Made, of course — and just enough of a subtle chipotle cream sauce to accent the fish.

Entrees come with soup or salad and a choice of two sides from a list that includes the very good Parmesan fries, a better choice than the pub chips, housemade potato chips that are appealing when warm, not so much when they aren't, as happened on one occasion.

Of course, this is a restaurant that is still in its infancy, open just a couple of weeks now. But it shows promise with its imaginative menu and local focus. Proprietor Mike Kramb, a veteran of the corporate restaurant world who decided it was time to have his own place, is a hands-on owner who is relishing his first independent restaurant.

Prior to his takeover, the space was Captain Jack's, and before that Rojo Mexican Bistro.

Seating is in the bar and two dining rooms with a view of the boats in the marina and at least a glimpse of the lake beyond. An upstairs area will become what Kramb calls a "relaxed lounge" where old vinyl records will be spun by a deejay.

The busy season is just about to start on the Nautical Mile. Kramb says while he's looking forward to it, he intends the Current to be more than just a summer place.

The Current

Harbor 9 Marina, 24026 Jefferson,

St. Clair Shores

Call: (586) 773-7770

Rating: 2 and a half stars

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.-Thurs.,

11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

(to be expanded after Memorial Day)

Prices: Appetizers $8-$11, entrée salads $7-$10, sandwiches $9.50-$12, entrees $13-$22, including soup or salad, desserts $4.50

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: Full bar, with emphasis on Michigan beers

Noise level: Moderate

Parking: Attached lot

Wheelchair access: No barriers (ramp on south side)