Dining: The Hill a classic in menu, setting, service
With all the emphasis on new restaurants opening around town at a record pace, it’s easy to overlook the standbys, places that have been paying their dues for years.
A case in point: The Hill, serving its solid American menu since August 2000, and still going strong in its handsome quarters in Grosse Pointe Farms.
The menu has evolved during the years, but it remains true to certain classics, one of which is the Hill of Perch, golden filets of Michigan’s favorite fish atop a heap of crispy shoestring potatoes and a mound of mashed potatoes. Yes, double potatoes, but the combination works well with its contrast of textures and flavors. A notable dish.
Other signature dishes include Black Angus filet mignon, New York strip with accompaniments of onion flan and sauteed spinach, and burgers made with a blend of prime short rib, brisket and beef chuck. Quality ingredients are a hallmark here.
Executive chefs have come and gone, and some of them have tried to add trendy dishes to the menu. They just as quickly disappeared. This is a classic steak/seafood spot and it recently introduced its latest chef, Tom Batayeh, who moved across town from his previous post at the Novi Chophouse.
His first addition to the menu, not surprisingly, is a cowboy steak, the massive bone-in ribeye that is a favorite of beef lovers. (It is also at the top of the price list.) He also seems to have brought a nice touch to the soup list: asparagus, the soup du jour the other day, had a delicate, spring-like flavor. Soups that have been served daily at the Hill, literally for years, are tomato and lobster bisque.
The Hill has evolved in atmosphere, moving from its original rather preppy look to a more sophisticated setting, with a series of cozy banquettes along one wall in the skylit dining room, as well as conventional linen-covered tables. The mirrored bar has its own convivial atmosphere, and the 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday happy hour is an especially good value with its half-priced pizzas, $9 tenderloin tips and $5 crab cakes.
It almost goes without saying that this is a restaurant where service is not an afterthought, and on two recent visits, I found the staff to be courteous and helpful.
The Hill is like your favorite uncle. Maybe a little set in its ways, but very reliable.
123 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe Farms
Call: (313) 886-8101
Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., dinner 5-10 Mon.-Thurs., 5-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Closed Sun.
Prices: Lunch and dinner appetizers $14-$16, soups and salads $7-$22, pizzas $13-$15, sandwiches $8.95-$15, lunch entrees $12-$28; dinner entrees $16-$48, desserts $6-$7.
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar
Noise level: High in bar at prime times, low to moderate in dining room
Parking: Municipal lot and weekend valet
Wheelchair access: No barriers
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★ — good ★★1/2 — very good ★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding