Review: City Kitchen sets a comfy high bar
Bar menus have come a long way from the days when they offered nothing much more intriguing than a bowl of peanuts. Lately, chefs across town have been getting creative, with interesting selections for those who prefer the coziness of bar seating to tables in a more formal dining room.
One of the most appealing bar menus around is the one at City Kitchen, where those seated at the handsome zinc-topped bar or at one of the high-top tables around it get some interesting choices on a menu served only there in the evening. And they are much more than snacks.
Chef Matt Kouri sends out such dishes as chicken and Brie quesadillas, lamb sliders and pot stickers filled with pork, accompanied by stir-fried vegetables and orange dipping sauce, all in an affordable price structure. There’s also spinach artichoke dip with corn tortillas and spicy chicken wings, as well as fish tacos made with mahi-mahi, cabbage slaw and guacamole, the latter is the best version of the dish I’ve sampled.
The secret is that the mahi-mahi is sauteed, not fried, and the accompaniments, including a touch of fresh salsa, add just the right touch.
That’s not to say that the restaurant in Grosse Pointe doesn’t also have an appealing regular menu. Since proprietor Chick Taylor opened the doors in May 2006, one of the specialties has been fresh fish, ranging from local species like Lake Superior whitefish and lake perch — an absolute must in this neighborhood — to East Coast varieties typified by sea scallops and swordfish. The fish are handled in traditional fashion, offered chargrilled, blackened, fire-roasted, sauteed or fried, to the diners’ specification, and there are usually eight to 10 varieties available.
Kouri has been in the open kitchen at the rear of the dining room for two years, after having spent a number of years at The Hill, just up the street, and his experience shows.
The proprietor is a veteran of the original Joe Muer’s, where the simplicity of the preparation was a hallmark, and Fisher has carried that on in this well-run restaurant, where housekeeping standards are high and guests very well taken care of.
This is a restaurant that is not trying to reinvent the wheel. It is solid and reliable in both the quality of the fare and the service provided by the staff. And if that sounds like faint praise, au contraire. Consistency is one of the toughest qualities for a restaurant to achieve.
16844 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe
Call: (313) 882-6667
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Fri., 5-10 p.m. Sat., 4-9 p.m. Sun.
Prices: Bar menu $8.95-$25.95 (the latter for a sharable dish, a slab of ribs); lunch soups, salads and appetizers $4.25-$14.25, sandwiches $8.75-$13.75, entrees $11.75-$16.95, dinner soups, salads and appetizers $4.25-$14.25, entrees $19.25-$33.75.
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar
Noise level: Moderate
Wheelchair access: No barriers
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★ — good
★★1/2 — very good
★★★ — excellent
★★★★ — outstanding