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Waterfront dining simply can't be beat, particularly in weather mild enough to sit outside.
A new addition in this far-too-small category is Admiral's American Grill at the Docks, across the Maumee River from downtown, behind which the sun sets. Admiral's young owners couldn't ask for a cooler setting than the large space formerly occupied by Navy Bistro. But their challenges are big, among them: employing a top-notch chef and solid kitchen staff, supplying them with excellent ingredients, crafting an interesting menu, and training wait staff to set the tone. Admittedly, they're still working out kinks and tweaking the menu.
Admiral's motto: "Great food and amazing atmosphere. Riverfront view without the riverfront prices." I agree with that, except for three words: the first two, and the preposition. Great food, the kind you'd order again and tell a friend about, it's not. The preposition "without" holds true with some menu items, notably sandwiches ($8 to $12), but not with several entrees.
On a dinner visit, a bluesy-rock band jazzed the patio. Admiral's was out of our first menu choices of Lake Superior whitefish and salmon, so we ordered perch and a tuna special instead. Eight ounces of perch (a pricey $22), had scant flavor and was somewhat bony. Pan-seared yellow-fin tuna ($21) was a large piece but dense, had little inherent flavor, and a hue of gray. It was topped with a bit of artichoke and Italian spices with too much kick.
A 12-ounce New York strip steak with a red-wine sauce ($19) was fine. Fire-grilled pork chops ($15) were 10 thick ounces, but too chewy and lean. The menu says chops are "served with a baked cinnamon apple." It was served with a few thin slices of baked apple.
Chicken parmesan ($15) had a modest amount of breaded chicken over pasta in a red sauce, with a piece of garlic bread. And for the light appetite, pasta alfredo ($11) was serviceable. Dinner salads were generic.
At lunch, a pulled pork sandwich ($10) on a good bun did the job. Big chunks of hickory-smoked meat were chewy but well-paired with a tiny cup of coleslaw. Best of all: delicious homemade potato chips.
The grilled salmon ($16) with barbecue glaze was pretty fair but topped with "a fresh mango salsa." It didn't taste fresh to me or my companion. Accompanying veggies were mostly sliced, undercooked carrots.
A manager noted they're still tweaking the menu.
Service was uneven: at times gracious, but at other times glib or disengaged.
Note: Food and drink specials are on Admiral's Facebook page.
Admiral's American Grill:
Address: 26 Main St.
Category: Upscale casual
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Reservations are accepted.
Wheelchair access: Yes
Average Price: $$
Credit Cards: AE, Dis., MC, V
Web site: thedockstoledo.com41.65058 -83.52573
New Admiral's American Grill needs to work out the kinks.