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Published: Thursday, 2/21/2008

Restaurant review: Cedar Plant Grille ***

The Cedar Plank Grille, on State Rt. 795 in Walbridge, boasts a full-color menu featuring four pages of dishes designed to please just about every appetite - late breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, American comfort food and Mediterranean specialties, broasted chicken by the meal or the tub, and a good deal more.

But here's a surprise: If the name of the place makes your mouth water for something wonderful grilled on a cedar plank, forget about it. "Nothing is cooked on cedar plank," our young server said after checking with the kitchen. Why not? "I really don't know," she confessed. "This is only my third day on the job."

No matter, there's plenty else to dig into, along the lines of pita wraps, kabobs (shish, shrimp, chicken, kafta, and vegetarian), Greek spinach pie, steaks, lamb chops, coho salmon, gyros, subs, double burgers, and chili mac, the latter in portions big enough to feed a horse.

Most meals at this attractively appointed restaurant begin with zataar, a Middle Eastern dish. It's a mixture of ground and powdered herbs including oregano, thyme, salt, sesame seeds, and a hint of lemon, accompanied by olive oil and pita bread. Pour some of the olive oil into the dish, mix gently, and sop it up with the pita. It's an unusual twist on the time-worn olive oil and French bread starter that whets the appetite for what's to come.

In our case, the appetizers included lamb grape leaves ($5.75), chicken wings ($4.95) in a too-vinegary barbecue sauce, and a bowl of thick, tasty chicken noodle soup ($2.50), followed by lunch plates of chicken tawook ($6.45) with a house salad, hummus, rice, and garlic sauce; a fat beef gyro sandwich, and an excellent chicken shawarma wrap, both a bargain at $3.25. The $5.95 subs, too - smoked turkey and Philly melt, both with swiss cheese in a French baguette - offered lots of meat and dressing for the price.

For dinner, the battered cod with soup or salad and rice or French fries was equally generous, as was the four-piece broasted chicken, properly crispy on the outside and moist inside. Both dinners are $9.95.

Among the American entries, nothing much could top the Cedar Plank burger ($6.95), which is actually two burgers with all the fixings. More filling still was the chili mac ($5.95 lunch/$8.95 dinner). Even the smaller lunch order was so large and loaded with spaghetti, chili, and onions under a thick blanket of melted cheese, only the most ravenous among us would tackle the whole thing at one sitting.

Contact Bill of Fare at fare@theblade.com

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