Great meals off Grand River
A shortlist of restaurants in Farmington and Farmington Hills
Published: December 19, 2012
Namaste Flavours 34749 Grand River Ave., Farmington; 248-471-5555; namasteflavours.com: Casual Indian restaurant serves real Indian food, much of it from the south (think dosas) and the north, the cuisines of the "homes, wayside stalls and palaces," as they put it, all "in a friendly environment." Open 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, noon-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Saturday, and noon-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Sunday.
New Sahara 29222 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-851-1122; newsahara.com; $$: Chaldean restaurants are subtly different. Expect pickled cabbage as a starter, plus some tomato-based stews. And their daily specials are Iraqi favorites. The wide selection of entrées includes pan-fried eggplant and tomato over kafta.
Priya 36600 Grand River Ave., Farmington Hills; 248-615-7700; priyacuisine.com; $$: Priya is renowned for its excellent food, being a regular winner of Metro Times' Best of Detroit readers' polls. The older sister to the Priya restaurant in Troy, owner-chef Ravi specializes in various Indian dishes, but is especially talented with northern and southern Indian dishes. Many items on the menu are gluten-free, expect choices to include tandoori, biriyani, such unusual chicken dishes as kodi vepudu (chicken pieces sautéed with onions, spices and garnished with curry leaves), kozhi chettinad (boneless pieces of chicken cooked simmered in black pepper sauce, coconut, tomatoes and dry red chilies) or mango chicken, cooked in a special mango sauce. Then there are the southern specialties, such as idli sambar (steamed rice cakes with lentil soup), and dosas, or crêpes filled with everything from onions and chilies to vegetable curries. There's also an entire Indo-Chinese section, an interesting fusion of Chinese and Indian fare that includes such choices as "Cauliflower Manchurian Gravy," "Chicken Manchurian Gravy," "Eggplant in Garlic Sauce" and "Haka Noodles," traditional fried noodles, Hakka-style. There is much to explore here. Open 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, and noon-9 p.m. Sunday.
Ristorante Cafe Cortina 30715 W. 10 Mile Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-474-3033; cafecortina.com; $$$$: The fresh pastas and veals are the real thing and the setting, aiming for elegance, does not disappoint. A regular Zagat notable, it scores in the mid-20s across the board. The goal of the kitchen is to present "hearty regional Italian cooking from 150 years ago, presented in an exquisite and modern way." Speaking of the holidays, their website sells gift certificates in denominations of $50, $100, and $150. Open 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 5-10 p.m. Saturday, open for special events some Sundays.
Shangri-la Garden 27626 Middlebelt Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-474-8183; $$: Large parties fill the round tables, scattered across several rooms. Large parties of Chinese, Westerners and both can fill those tables up on a weekend night. The kitchen does serve plenty of meiguorende kouwei — that's dishes cooked to American taste to you and me. So you can get Cantonese-American comfort foods like almond boneless chicken, various lo meins, sweet and sour chicken, and even chop suey, all served with an egg roll and fried rice. But there are also less familiar dishes, zhongguorende kouwei — "to Chinese taste." If you're adventurous at all, give them a try, including the chef's specials and the dishes labeled Shanghai-style. For appetizers, scallion pancakes are mild but satisfying, served with sweet plum sauce. Better are spicy salted quail, served whole with lots of crusty skin, onions and peppers. If you can, get "Chinese Eggplant Stuffed with Minced Shrimp" — the diagonally sliced pieces are bursting with stuffing; they're deep-fried and then braised with whole garlic cloves in a sauce of wine, soy, scallions — and lemongrass? The vegetable is sensually spongy, the flavors lush. This is the newest of three locations in the Shangri-La empire, with locations also in Detroit and West Bloomfield.
Tomatoes Apizza 24369 Halsted Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-888-4888; 29275 W. 14 Mile Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-855-3555; tomatoesapizza.com; $: GQ Magazine said Tomatoes Apizza serves "one of the best 25 pies on earth," and the joint's "Naples Sampler" was recently honored by Food Network Magazine as Michigan's best pizza. Thin-crust, fresh-tasting, naturally cooked, garlicky, made-with-high-art pizzas rank with the best in the area. Pepperoni, salami, sausage, ham, crab, anchovies and bacon? Our frequent contributor Jeff Broder has nothing but the highest praise for Tomatoes Apizza, which should tell you something. Both locations open seven days for dine-in, carry out and delivery, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, noon-10 p.m. Sunday. Now serving beer and wine at the location on 14 Mile Road.
Udipi 29210 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-626-6021; udipirestaurantonline.com; $$: The only vegetarian restaurant along a stretch of Orchard Lake Road that is home to several Indian places. Unusual and delicious dishes, including vada, a savory donut made of lentil flour and dotted with bright green cilantro, and dosa, a crêpe made of rice flour, filled to overflowing with tomatoes, potatoes and onions. Open 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-9:00 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-10 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, and noon-9:30 p.m. Sunday.
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