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Published: Wednesday, 8/11/2010

Recently reviewed restaurants: 08-12

Summaries of recently reviewed area restaurants, in the order in which they were reviewed, with the most recent at the top.

• The SouthBriar Restaurant, 5147 Main St., Sylvania, is a quirky, charming place that serves an eclectic variety of American, German and other types of food. If you go on Wednesday, one of the owners, Tom Henkel, will be out front grilling excellent steaks and other items. Highly recommended. $$ 4 stars. 08/05/10

• Plate 21, 3664 Rugby Dr., near Detroit Avenue and Glanzman Road, is a stylin' coffeeshop that turns out deliciously interesting beverages, sandwiches, soups, and desserts. The interior design alone is worth a visit. $ 4 stars.

• Mayberry Diner, 2155 South Byrne Rd. and 8523 Mayberry Square, Sylvania, are sister restaurants that do a fine job of serving standard American breakfasts and lunches. It's simple and satisfactory. $ 3 stars.

• Five Guys Burgers and Fries, 3305 West Central Ave., focuses on top-quality burgers and fries in massive servings. Some of the unexpected burger toppings include grilled mushrooms and jalapeno peppers. The fresh cut fries, cooked in peanut oil, are delicious. $ 4 stars.

• Black Pearl, 4630 Heatherdowns Blvd., across from the Stranahan complex, takes over where its predecessor, HJ's, left off. The decor is still the same, as are parts of the menu and some of the staff. The prime rib is tender, mouth-watering, and served in generous portions, and the perch deserves attention too. $$$ 4 stars.

• Grumpy's, 34 South Huron St., is the best place downtown for an interesting lunch that combines creative taste pairings with a certain no-frills attitude and approach. They serve the best burgers in town and the Garbage salad is exceptional. $$ 4 stars.

• Deez Diner, 2007 North Holland-Sylvania Rd., goes heavy on the retro, complete with oldies music and images of Betty Boop. It's the kind of place where breakfast is served all day and menu items are named for people. Try Grandma Faye's homemade soups and Johnny's original chili mac. $ 3 stars.

• Rumors Restaurant, 5205 Monroe St., serves big portions of Mediterranean and American standards. Atmosphere is casual, and quantity sometimes trumps quality, but it offers long hours (breakfast to late dinners), a kids' menu, and a full bar in busy West Toledo. $$ 3 stars.

• Jasmine Thai Cuisine and Japanese Steakhouse, 5834 Monroe St., Sylvania, takes over where Toledo tradition En Japanese Steakhouse left off: with Japanese classics, sushi, and teppan yaki and an expanded Thai menu. The pad Thai and mango and pineapple curry are excellent. $$$ 3 stars.

• South End Grille, 5105 Glendale Ave., offers standard pub grub enhanced by some delicious additions, including a perch dinner and St. Louis-style barbecued ribs. A laid-back ambience during the week gives way to a livelier — and louder — scene on weekends. $$ 3 stars.

• Prestige Restaurant, 3439 Hill Ave., does diner food right. Ample portions of comfort food are served piping hot from breakfast all the way through to supper. The restaurant features American, Mediterranean, and Italian food and specializes in breakfast. $$ 3 stars.

• Cheers Sports Eatery, 7131 Orchard Centre Drive, Holland. Tucked away in a strip mall, this sports bar is full of pleasant surprises, from interesting salads to huge grinders to soft pretzels. For a real treat, try the fantastic homemade salsa, then top it off with a Texas-sized burrito. $ 3 stars

• El Salto, 219 Golden Gate Plaza, Maumee, serves a wide variety of Tex-Mex fare quickly with good service. Portions are large, sometimes spicy (ask), and prices are decent, but the decor is a bit shabby. $ 3 stars.

• Detroit Beach Restaurant & Pizzeria, 2630 Grand Blvd., Monroe, is a hidden little dive dishing up hearty portions of superb pasta and pizza with loads of authentic atmosphere. Tons of fresh garlic accent the sauces on the flaky, thin-crust pizza and the light-as-air gnocchi. $ 4 stars.

• Mancy's Steak House, 953 Phillips Ave., has earned its stellar reputation as a Toledo institution in business nearly 90 years. Its steaks are superb, but the restaurant also delivers excellent seafood, homemade bread, and great desserts. Toss in a classy atmosphere, and this is one of the best the city has to offer. $$$ 5 stars.

• New Empire Restaurant, 6540 Centers Drive, Holland, will suit lovers of such standard Chinese-American dishes as sweet and sour pork and fried rice as well as those with a taste for the more exotic. The walnut shrimp with cream and the Empire special, with scallops, lobster, and shrimp, are excellent. Dim sum, small sampler plates of interesting items, is served from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. $$ 4 stars.

• Big'z Bar and Grill, 2600 West Sylvania Ave. Bigger is better at this gleaming sports bar, where an endless array of televisions promises to entertain diners, and giant containers are waiting to be filled with adult beverages. The menu offers a wide variety of bar favorites and a few unexpected twists but mostly is uninspired. $$ 3 stars.

• La Fiesta, 11191 South Telegraph Rd., Erie, and 102 Tecumseh St., Dundee, Mich., does a good job serving hearty portions of the kind of Tex-Mex food we're accustomed to: enchiladas, burritos, chimichangas, tamales, fajita salads, cheesy refried beans, rice, etc. Family owned, both locations have attractive decors and are busy on weekend nights. $$ 3 stars.

• JB's Sarnie Shoppe, 4195 Levis Commons Blvd., Perrysburg, has outdoor seating and a cosmopolitan feel. The exceptional bread, high quality meats and cheeses, and great attention to detail contribute to truly astounding sandwiches. Bruce's roast beef and the turkey avocado are worth a stop, as are the fresh, flavorful salads. $ 4 stars.

• Ambrosia, 1500 Holland Rd., Maumee, is a beautiful place for a relaxing meal. The menu is a combination of American, Middle Eastern, and Italian dishes that are well-prepared and presented. Favorites include the lemon-oregano shish tawook, the lamb shanks, and the puffy bread served upon arrival. $$ 4 stars.

• Rosie's Italian Grille, 606 McCord Rd., combines traditional Italian food such as panini, strombolis, pizza, and lasagna with more sophisticated fare. The food is uniformly excellent and it's the perfect place for a night out, a casual dinner, or a business lunch. $$ 4 stars.

• Toledo's Mainstreet Bar & Grill, 141 Main St. This East Toledo eatery excels at what bars do best: greasy, tasty bar food. That means yummy fried appetizers like breaded cheese ravioli and a slew of stand-out sandwiches made with toasty ciabatta bread. Carb lovers will enjoy the pizza and cheesy bread too. $ 3 stars

• Tandoor Cuisine of India, 2247 South Reynolds Rd., has 43 delicious meat, poultry, and fish entrees and 16 that are vegetarian or vegan. Food cooked in the clay oven (tandoor) is especially recommended. $ 4 stars.

• Uraku Japanese Restaurant, 1616 East Wooster St., Bowling Green, offers excellent sushi and an intimate cool interior at astonishingly low prices. The chirashi roll and lunch specials are stand-outs at this hidden little gem. $$ 4 stars.

• Vino 100, 3355 Briarfield Blvd, Maumee, is a great place for a bite to eat after the theater or film. The menu is heavy on interesting appetizers, and the bar offers cocktails, craft beers, and an abundance of wine by the glass or bottle. $$ 4 stars.

• Swig, 219 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg, specializes in making its own sausage and serving it with a wide array of beers. Polish sausage, kielbasa, hot Italian and fresh hot dogs lead the lineup on a menu that's fairly limited but satisfying. The vibe in Swig is laid back and fun, with a great wait staff, making it a nice gathering place with friends. $ 3 stars.

• Uncle John's, 3131 Secor Rd., in the Westgate area, has built its reputation on its morning menu, including a wide selection of omelets — the popular Greek chicken omelet being a standout — as well as pancakes, delicious bacon, and other morning staples. But the flip side of the menu reveals a full slate of sandwiches, burgers, and a Friday night all-you-can-eat fish fry that's worth a dinner trip. $ 3 stars.

• Skillet Delights Cafe, 1007 South McCord Rd., Holland. The menu boasts breakfast all day, but there's much more to crow about. How about heaping helpings of comfort food that will put a smile on your face and ingredients such as avocados and artichokes that allow some real creativity if you want it. $$ 3 stars.

• Masala Cuisine of India, 1855 South Reynolds Rd., Toledo, is the newest and possibly least expensive of restaurants that spring from the great subcontinent. Lots of vegetarian fare as well as chicken, lamb, and shrimp. Decor is simple but pleasant. If your taste receptors are heat-averse, order dishes without spice. $ 4 stars.

• Domo Restaurant, 1208 North Reynolds Rd., offers a wide variety from steaks to Japanese and Korean specialties, but sushi is the star of the menu. Novices will appreciate the beginners' sushi. Lunch service is a good value with bento boxes featuring excellent sweet marinated beef and light crunchy potato korokke. $$ 3 stars.

• Jim Shull's Rib Cage, 144 Chesterfield Lane, Maumee, is an unpretentious, inviting neighborhood cafe that serves outstanding ribs and deep-fried lake perch. Other entrees, such as the beef stroganoff and the veal marsala, are perfectly adequate but not memorable. Service is outstanding. $$ 3 stars.

• Dale's Bar and Grill, 322 Conant St., Maumee, keeps its focus strictly on good, solid bar food, which it does quite well. The menu emphasizes sandwiches, soups, and plenty of appetizer choices. It's the kind of place you can get a grilled bologna sandwich and a big pile of onion rings and settle in to watch your favorite team on one of the big-screen TVs. $$ 3 stars.

• Manhattan's, 1516 Adams St., offers a solid lunch menu of casual fare such as Angus burgers and turkey sandwiches, and an outstanding dinner selection that includes scampi, filet mignon, and jumbo-sized coconut shrimp. Soups and desserts are heartily recommended. $$$ 4 stars.

• Cafe Del Sol, 444 North Summit St. Tucked in the lower level of the Crowne Plaza hotel, this restaurant is good for more than just room service. The menu is filled with some inventive meals that suit a variety of tastes, from pan-Asian to southwest to American. Most prices are a bit more upscale, but the lunch buffet is a particularly good deal at $6.99. $$$ 3 stars.

• Eddie Lee's, 4700 Nantucket Drive, is known for its seafood and steaks. The entrees were tasty — especially the prime rib and Norwegian salmon. Eddie Lee's is old school, and the customers seem to like it like that. $$$ 3 stars.

• Rose Thai, 5333 Monroe St., has a sophisticated interior that adds relaxing ambience to the quality cuisine at exceptional prices. Although sauces are often a bit too sweet, the menu has some stars in the large juicy chicken satay, as well as the mat-sa-man and phanaeng curries. $$ 4 stars.

• Smedlap's Smithy, 205 Farnsworth Rd., Waterville, has been a fixture in Peddler's Alley since the mid-1970s. Entry through the mall can be downright depressing, but the restaurant itself is comfortable and serves meals that range from sublime plank salmon and lake perch to a more ordinary cowboy burger and portabella fries that had been left in the hot oil a tad too long. $$ 3 stars.

• Encore By J.D. Wesley, 5333 Monroe St. With one of Toledo's best known chefs running the show, Encore has a lot to live up to, and it succeeds. The menu is an eclectic mix of seafood, steaks, chicken, and other items, and the restaurant combines an upscale dining experience and especially classy entrees, salads, and desserts. $$$ 4 stars.

• El Sueno, 2640 West Laskey Rd., fails to truly stand out from the plethora of Mexican restaurants in Toledo. The queso fundido con camaron, with seven grilled shrimp, is a must-have, but the special tapatio — “a little of everything” — shows much of the menu's offerings to be merely average. $$ 2 stars.

• Bravo! Cucina Italian, 5001 Monroe St., in Westfield Franklin Park, features a classy decor (tall pillars, white tablecloths) and meals that are more authentic (Italian) and interesting (American) than the usual fare. Chicken marsala, wood-fired salmon, pork chops, salads, pastas, and seafood are among dozens of offerings. Desserts are great, service is prompt, and there are fine menus for youngsters of different ages. $$$ 5 stars.

• Kyoto Ka, 6801 West Central Ave., is an exquisite if hidden gem offering truly spectacular sushi as well as excellent entrees and appetizers in a refreshingly laid-back atmosphere. The rainbow roll, JOE roll, and twin shrimp roll are worth seeking out. $$ 5 stars.

• Zoup!, 310 West Dussel Drive, Maumee, specializes in soup, a dozen varieties each day, ranging from seafood chowder to tomato bisque to chicken dill. Generous sandwiches and fresh salads complete the menu. $ 3 stars.

• Jing Chuan, 4424 Secor Rd., succeeds by providing years of reliability, a comfortable atmosphere, and the customary dishes served well. The meals are excellent, especially the Mongolian beef and shrimp with cashew nuts. And make sure you try the soups. $$ 4 stars.

• Executive Diner, 2516 Sylvania Ave., offers delicious breakfast and lunch fare. The Denver omelet and Mexican burrito are tasty, but the fluffy homemade buttermilk pancakes are a treat. For lunch the stuffed green pepper soup is a hearty revelation, the firecracker shrimp is divine, and the Zavotski kielbasa and the chicken quesadilla are outstanding. $ 4 stars.

• Sidelines at the Arena, 233 North Huron St. Situated directly across the street from the Lucas County Arena, this bar and grill is filled with plenty of TVs to keep tabs on your favorite games. The menu has all the bar standards and some surprises too, including an excellent lake perch and a number of tasty barbecue options. $$ 3 stars.

• Call of the Canyon Cafe, 109 North Main St., Bowling Green, serves light meals and loads of ambience. Outstanding desserts are worth the calories after the healthy and varied salads and sandwiches. The Calamity (Sarah) Jane salad with dried cherries and pecans is worth the visit, as is the fall apple salad. $ 3 stars.

• Campus Oasis, 3303 Dorr St. at Secor near the University of Toledo, has six venues serving Mediterranean and Tex-Mex fare, gyros, pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and entrees such as ribs and lasagna. Beverages include a raw juice bar, fruit smoothies, shakes, malts, coffees, teas, hookahs, and alcohol but not beer and wine at this time. $ 3 stars.

• Mancy's Italian Grill, 5453 Monroe St. With an atmosphere heavy on amber colors and redolent with the smell of food coming from the wood stoves, Mancy's Italian is easy to settle into. The menu features a number of delicious steaks, Italian entrees, seafood, and wood-grilled entrees. Try the 12-year old restaurant's pizza for lunch. $$$ 4 stars.

• Quarters Bar & Grill, 27072 Carronade Drive, Perrysburg, has an intriguing and varied menu highlighted by great homemade soups and an outstanding take on the fried Monte Cristo sandwich. Too many of the other items, however, fall flat in terms of providing much flavor. $$ 2 stars.

• City Hall Grille & Drinks, 315 South Reynolds Rd., is a casual diner masquerading as an upscale restaurant with average to very good food. Its St. Louis-style ribs and New York strip steak are OK, but its meat grape leaves, grilled chicken breast (featuring a wonderful Greek marinade), and reuben sandwich are delicious. $$ 3 stars.



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