Dining: Gilbert’s Lodge a classic bar and grill

Molly Abraham
The Detroit News

The American bar and grill is a restaurant classic. Almost every neighborhood can boast one, casual, comfortable and unpretentious.

And there’s no more typical example of the genre than Gilbert’s Lodge in St. Clair Shores. Like many of its peers, it’s been around for a while, established in the early 1960s by brothers Mickey and Shorty Gilbert, and acquired by current proprietor Louie Bricolas in 1990.

As the name suggests, it’s a replica of a deep woods lodge, complete with log cabin effects from the massive fireplace to the cobblestone walls, rustic furniture and deer head trophies. A miniature electric train chugging around the dining room on tracks just below ceiling level adds another touch.

Seating arrangements vary from the horseshoe bar that anchors the back wall to tables throughout the spacious dining room and the covered patio.

Like most neighborhood spots, Gilbert’s doesn’t offer frills. Napkins are paper, tables uncovered, butter comes in little foil packets, ketchup in the original bottle. Red-shirted servers are friendly and helpful as they bring the big glossy menus that list the crowd-pleasing dishes from pizza to fish and chips, barbecued ribs and chicken wings.

The best bet is to go with one of the array of burgers, made with 1/2 pound of Angus beef and a variety of toppings. Those who appreciate a little heat will love the Three Alarm burger, topped with pepper jack cheese, a scattering of jalapenos, pico de gallo and guacamole.

Another notable burger is the patty melt with Swiss cheese, sauteed mushrooms and onions, served on grilled rye bread, another of the 10 burger variations. Those who don’t want beef can substitute buffalo on any burger at an extra charge.

And there’s even a burger topped with a fried egg, bacon and cheddar — the Morning Burger, of course.

Sweet potato fries are offered as an alternative to classic fries, and they are definitely worth ordering at a modest $2.79 for enough for two to share. Other well-prepared dishes from the kitchen of executive chef Anthony Johnson include such pop-Mexican favorites as nachos and chicken quesadillas.

A plus here is the very affordable price structure across the board, including the offerings from the bar. There are 11 beers on tap, and many more by the bottle, as well as full complement of liquor, but wine gets short shrift.

Pull into the big attached parking lot just about any time of day, and yours will be far from the only car. And that reflects the enduring popularity of this St. Clair Shores landmark that was restored and improved after not one, but two major fires.

abraham67@comcast.net

Gilbert’s Lodge

22335 Harper, St. Clair Shores

Call: (586) 772-0720

gilbertslodge.com

Rating: ★★

Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-midnight Sat.-Sun.

Prices: Sandwiches $5.99-$8.99, burgers $5.49-$10.49, pizzas $8.49-$14.99, salads $4.49-$12.99, entrees $9.99-$14.99, desserts $3.49-$4.99.

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: Full bar

Noise level: Moderate

Parking: Large attached lot

Wheelchair access: No barriers

What the ratings mean

★ — routine ★★ — good ★★ 1/2 — very good

★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding