There are restaurateurs, I'd guess, and even Realtors of broader scope who lust for the tidy piece of property that's home to Sonny Berry's Supper Club. The waters of Maumee Bay lap the edge of the lot (at a safe distance), but there's no patio inviting guests to enjoy dinner al fresco, no manicured lawn and intimate arbors hidden in greenery set to one side and the other, no dock for customers who come by water to eat and drink.
What faces this supper club are a gravel parking area, a clump of slowly rotting pilings, and some other waste wood heaped carelessly off to the side. It seems that a vision of the possibilities has not inspired the proprietor. Or perhaps he has given sober consideration to a cost-benefit ratio. There's nothing like economic reality to focus a vision.
We come, however, you and I, moved by hunger, not aesthetics, and the Bay Shore Supper Club is, or ought to be, on our list of favorite, homey, unpretentious eateries.
There is one thing, though, about that “supper club” moniker: The Bay Shore is open from early in the morning until a respectable evening hour, from early breakfast to the last piece of after-dinner pie. Is a standard breakfast served in a true supper club?
Conventional wisdom says that you'd be making a big mistake if you order a porterhouse from a seafood kitchen. I'm a believer (like everyone at neighboring tables the times I've eaten at the Bay Shore), so I can't tell you about the four beef steaks on the menu.
Now, the kitchen knows perfectly well what to do with fresh-water fish, like pickerel, whole or half, and little deep-fried yellow perch. They arrive delicately flaked, tender, and tasty enough that I'm never tempted to use tartar sauce, even if it's made or doctored here. Just doing my duty, I brush the sauce with a single flake, and I can say from my own experience that it's not so strong as to overwhelm the fish.
Another fresh-water fish we sometimes get in these parts - a rare one, related to and smaller than a pickerel - is the sauger. It's also the only one that on my plate that can compete with a pickerel, the northern whitefish, from Lake Superior or now and again Lake Huron.
Yet another lake fish, which makes its home in the deepest waters - several hundred feet - and is very rarely caught, is a lake trout, a grand fish sometimes big enough to be stuffed and served on a table of eight settings.
Well, I'm drifting into dreams; just don't ever pass up a lake trout steak, even a relatively little one, if one's offered.
One recent evening I departed from fresh to salt-water for a mess of ocean scallops. In this restaurant, or any of its sort, a salt-water order may be, if not a mistake, still hardly a winner. These scallops, pan broiled, were tough and fibrous. They were OK, but surely less than one expects.
Service is friendly and as fast as it can be, considering that the kitchen moves on its tasks deliberately. The bar is set off by a head-high room divider. Tables are a little crowded, and if you're one of a group you had better call ahead.
Contact Bill of Fare by e-mail at email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org