Notable eateries in Birmingham, Troy and the Bloomfields
Published: January 25, 2012
Kona Grill 30 E. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-619-9060: For a taste of Hawaiian cuisine, which, as on the Big Island itself, is more accurately described as pan-Asian, Kona offers moderately priced fare in an attractive dining environment. Choices range from sushi, noodles and pizza to beef and seafood, featuring ahi and macadamia nuts as a genuflection to the islands' culinary culture. Most of their mains cost less than $20, with the "signature dish" being macadamia chicken combined with a soy-based shoyu-cream sauce and adorned with pineapple-papaya marmalade, accompanied by a huge mound of mashed potatoes dotted with white cheddar and wok-tossed vegetables. The small and versatile wine list has some decent buys in the 20s and 30s.
Loccino Italian Grill & Bar 5600 Crooks Rd., Troy; 248-813-0700: Loccino's menu features many accessible entrées, with most coming in at less than $20. Despite its relative elegance, the owners call it "family casual." The kitchen covers most of the Italian bases with a slight overemphasis on creamy sauces and breaded dishes. The chicken and veal preparations appear in comparable guises with veal $3 more than chicken. Loccino's chicken piccata with capers and mushrooms in a delicate lemon-wine sauce merits the local award it has won.
Maggiano's Little Italy 2089 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy; 248-205-1060: A visit to the free-standing castle-like edifice west of Crooks on Big Beaver Road offers some answers. One of dozens in a national chain, this upscale family restaurant is designed to look and feel like a venerable neighborhood institution, just as the original, which opened in Chicago in 1991, was designed to appear as if it had been a downtown destination since the 1930s. Many come for the family dinners that include two huge platters each from an encyclopedic selection of appetizers, salads, pastas, entrées and desserts. And virtually all of those who bravely confront the mounds of food will go home with doggie bags.
Mitchell's Fish Market 117 Willits Rd., Birmingham; 248-646-3663: Mitchell's Fish Market is a member of that new breed of restaurants: the upscale chain. Featuring an ice-filled display case with luscious steaks and bright fillets, the selection of fish varies from day to day. You choose the fish and its style of preparation.
McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant 2850 Coolidge Hwy., Troy; 248-637-6400: The setting is posh, with beveled glass windows set into the mahogany paneling, and the service is accommodating. The food's the clincher, though — whether slip-sliding simple raw oysters or savoring the most fussy presentation, such as cashew-crusted mahi mahi sweetened with Jamaica rum butter and a salsa of mango and red bell peppers. The menu is printed twice daily, with an impressive list of more than 18 fresh-catch offerings. Desserts are all rich and classic; be sure to call for reservations.
Mon Jin Lau 1515 E. Maple, Troy; 248-689-2332: Mon Jin Lau seats 175 (not counting the spacious warm-weather patio) in several large and lively rooms. It's is one of the most extravagantly decorated of all the Chinese restaurants on this side of the river, with striking modern art on the walls, stone columns, art-deco chandeliers and palm trees all set against vibrant colors. Mon Jin Lau has nouveau Asian fare, including Korean, Thai and Japanese specialties. The menu is long, ranging from mundane golden oldies like egg fu young to the elaborately prepared roasted Chilean sea bass with lemongrass, red peppers, and Thai curry sauce, including more than 20 appetizers averaging around $8.
Moose Preserve 43034 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills; 248-858-7688: Knotty pine walls, lots of duck prints and various preserved animal parts are on display. To eat, there's buffalo, rabbit, duck, quail, wild boar, deer, sometimes rabbit and duck specials — virtually a forest full of critters — plus fried cheese sticks. Believe it or not, salads are some of the best menu items.
My Cousin's New York Pizzeria 42967 Woodward Ave., Bloomfield Hills; 248-874-9999: Doing a mostly carryout business, My Cousin's New York Pizzeria trades on the mystique of New York pizza. Their rendition is round, generally thin (although thick-crusted at the slightly charred edges), moderately greasy and eaten folded lengthwise. The slices, wider than the Detroit norm for round pizzas, are eminently foldable and the crust is thin and delicate until you arrive at the crunchy edge, which is always eaten last. Moreover, the seamlessly blended tomato and cheese are more lightly applied than in comparable Detroit varieties.
New Bangkok Thai Bistro 183 N. Old Woodward, Birmingham; 248-644-2181: Re: those spice levels, medium will be hot enough for most. Most entrées can be ordered with chicken, beef, pork, tofu, shrimp, scallops or squid. The fried rice dishes are even more comfort-food-y than the pad Thai, with an emphasis on the fried. The beef in one companion's kow pad was super-soft, with, unfortunately, an overreliance on onions. Fun for the younger set are bubble drinks — smoothies with a handful of soft and chewy boiled tapioca pearls that you slurp up through a special wide straw. mango, honeydew, taro, cocoanut, strawberry are bubble drink flavor options.
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