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Published: Thursday, 4/13/2006

Restaurant review: Maggie's Family Restaurant ****

Located on Dixie Highway, which links Perrysburg and Bowling Green, Maggie's is sandwiched between the spiffy Levis Commons shopping center to the north and fertile farmland to the south. Located on Dixie Highway, which links Perrysburg and Bowling Green, Maggie's is sandwiched between the spiffy Levis Commons shopping center to the north and fertile farmland to the south.
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The sign out front says simply, "Maggie's Family Restaurant," which is a good description of this Perrysburg eatery and the down-home cooking that draws lunch and dinner customers all week long.

I suggest, however, that another few words be added to the sign in order to properly reflect its uniqueness: "Home of the Second Helpings."

Yes, second helpings. The offer applies to the two family-style dinners served each night: If you finish your plate and are still hungry, Maggie's will gladly serve a second helping, free of charge. And with a smile.

Located on Dixie Highway, which links Perrysburg and Bowling Green, Maggie's is sandwiched between the spiffy Levis Commons shopping center to the north and fertile farmland to the south. The customers who fill the place Tuesday-Sunday constitute a social mix that includes suburbanites, businessmen, blue-collar workers, farmers, and other folks itching for a taste of good food.

The evening family-style entrees are the kind that your Mama may have cooked for you back in the day: fried chicken, beef stroganoff, pork roast, prime rib, cabbage and noodles, kielbasa, walleye, and the like. Other notable items are stuffed tomatoes, thick soups, desserts made fresh daily, and, on Sundays, a midday buffet and two family-style specials.

Michael Roller, a Bowling Green area farmer who died in 2004, established Maggie's restaurant, banquet hall, and catering business in 1996, and his family continues to run the operation.

The restaurant itself has two entrances, one leading to a small, separate bar and the other opening onto the carpeted main dining room, an airy, comfortable array of tables and large booths looked after by supremely accommodating servers. Place mats list a month's worth of family-style dinner specials, and a separate menu includes lunch items, after-4 p.m. entrees, and low-carb dishes.

A recent lunch began with cabbage soup ($1.75 a cup/$2.50 a bowl) brimming with ham, tomatoes, and carrots, along with a $3.95 patty melt with swiss cheese on rye. The kitchen cooks ground meat well done only, but the server promised it would be juicy, as indeed it was. Home fries ($1.50) were so light and greaseless that I could have eaten them with my fingers.

Another time, we ordered a lightly breaded cod sandwich ($4.95) and a reuben ($5.25) and found them tasty, generously stuffed, and promptly served.

The family-style dinner specials one night - beef stroganoff with noodles ($8.95) and chicken and dumplings ($8.25) - vied for my attention, so here's where the second-helping alternative came into play:

I ordered the impossibly tender stroganoff as my entre, followed by, with the server's blessing, the chicken as a second helping - about half as large as the beef but just as delicious. All entres, incidentally, come with mixed vegetables, Jell-O or applesauce, and a roll.

The only hitch is that Maggie's won't give out carryout containers when seconds are served. That's a small price to pay for food that doesn't cost a penny.

Contact Bill of Fare at fare@theblade.com



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