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Friday, November 28, 2014
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Published: Thursday, 7/28/2005

Restaurant review: Phillip's on Main ****

Whether because of coincidence or just plain luck, a gourmet restaurant that recently exited its home on Main Street in Sylvania was promptly replaced by another gourmet restaurant in the same space. The upshot is that local diners looking for food that s out of the ordinary wind up as beneficiaries of this serendipitous turn of events.

The change of real estate involves The Restaurant, which closed its doors after seven years in business, and Phillip s on Main, which moved in this spring. Happy to say, the owners, chef Kirk Dixon and manager Dan Lynch, present the kind of cuisine that upsets expectations, dancing between classic and nouveau.

Examples of the adventurous, a la carte, admittedly expensive possibilities include an appetizer of beef carpaccio with capers, diced onion, whole grain mustard, and white truffle oil ($12), along with such entrees as French bouillabaisse ($32) with lobster, shrimp, scallops, and mussels in a saffron seafood broth, muscovy duck breast ($28) with brandied cherry sauce, and veal porterhouse ($29) with hollandaise sauce and truffled smashed potatoes.

The d cor is similar to The Restaurant s: Beyond the comfortable bar at the entrance is a narrow dining room with a faux marble pediment overhead, suggesting an al fresco setting in ancient Rome or Greece.

The only difference is that Phillip s seems to have a warmer, sunnier, less hushed feel than its predecessor. Perhaps that s encouraged by the remarkable friendliness of the servers and owners, who pay close attention to patrons needs.

On recent visits, we ate several meals palate-pleasing meals, starting with a sweet house salad including candied pecans, dried cherries, and fresh fruit, and a Caesar salad with tomatoes, parmesan shavings, and lots of garlic ($3 with entr e).

A cup of creamy lobster bisque ($6) bobbed with generous bites of lobster, and an appetizer of fois gras ($15), justified the price with caramelized onions and a hint of apple enhancing the flavor. In that same category was a grilled tenderloin sandwich piled on with blue cheese, lettuce, tomato, and balsamic onions, $15 and well worth the price.

On the down side, the delightfully tangy Nantucket blue crab cakes ($25) with chipotle aioli should have been pan-seared to a crunchy turn but weren t a frequent complaint of mine after having enjoyed crab cakes prepared properly, with an imperative crisp crust, at tables from New England to South Carolina.

But there was no disagreement with the $28 encrusted coho salmon, served medium rare in a bowl of mushroom and tomato risotto and bathed in lemon and garlic; nor with a sumptuous Oscar-styled grilled filet mignon ($29) blanketed with lump crab meat, asparagus, and hollandaise accompanied by garlic smashed potatoes. Dessert brought a velvety cr me brulee with a delicately caramelized lid ($5).

Open for about three months, Phillip s still seems to be experimenting with the possibilities. The menu has changed at least once in that time, for example, with various price jumps ($2 to $4 in most cases). The restaurant also appears to have abandoned their weekday lunchtime hours. Dinner dishes have been added or subtracted, which, considering the gourmet nature of the restaurant and the seasonal changes in fruit and produce, is a good thing.

Contact Bill of Fare at fare@theblade.com



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