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Published: Thursday, 11/10/2011 - Updated: 2 years ago

Serving comfort food with an upside

BILL OF FARE

Rating: ***

Mama's Chicken at Bobby V's American Grill. Mama's Chicken at Bobby V's American Grill.
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Bobby V's American Grill carries a distinct pedigree thanks to lineage directly linked to a Toledo-area restaurant family.

The restaurant at the corner of Airport Highway and Albon Road is operated by Kevin Bowers. Bowers is the grandson of Bob Verbon, who owned the Vagabond and the Embers.

The result is an intriguing mix of comfort food with a twist, traditional grill fare, and a relaxed family-style setting where you can still feel comfortable having a drink with your meal. There are a few kinks still to be worked out, but it's easy picturing Bobby V's becoming a favorite locally owned restaurant, especially for folks who live in the heavily populated Springfield Township area where it is located.

We tried three of the six signature dishes -- the Dueling Meatloaves, Chop Steak, and Mama's Chicken -- and all three represented a contemporary twist on traditional food.

Dueling Meatloaves ($12) is somewhat self-explanatory: the chefs offer up their take on the traditional dish with a pair of meatloaves (which, by the way, leads to an exceptionally large portion). One is a safe choice, with a ketchup-based glaze. It was nicely prepared, with a sauce that wasn't overly sweet and meat that wasn't greasy. Bowers' version is intriguing, but it's not going to be for everyone. He uses ground, blanched almonds instead of bread crumbs, leading to a nutty, dry version that reminded me of the Lebanese dish kafta, only with a light wine-based demi-glace. It should be noted that the meatloaves came to the table a bit too cold, but we sent them back and they returned piping hot.

The Mama's Chicken ($12) features sauteed chicken breast with dried Michigan cherries, shiitake mushrooms, and fresh basil. It was excellent, with the cherries and mushrooms combining for a sweet and earthy effect that accented the chicken.

The Chop Steak ($10) was hand-pattied ground beef with sauteed mushrooms and onions finished with a Cabernet demi-glace. This dish was traditional, but was fresher and far better than any version you'd find at a chain steak house or family restaurant.

Side dishes included the macaroni and cheese, which is awesome because it features fat shells, gooey cheese sauce, and -- best of all -- bacon. We also ordered the roasted shallot smashed potato and baked sweet potato, and both were excellent.

Lunch wasn't quite as successful. The cheeseburger ($8) was good, a large patty served in a generous portion with thin-cut french fries. But the sliders, which you can buy three for $5 came up short. The pulled pork version had a generic-tasting sauce that wasn't distinctive, the Philly steak was pretty pedestrian, and the chicken bacon ranch was solid, but nothing special. They also weren't very hot.

The other problem was of an aesthetic nature, but it had a deleterious effect on the dining experience: someone was cleaning the bar with what smelled like an ammonia-based solution that wafted through the dining area.

We also were disappointed that in both of our visits the apple fritter bread pudding, which we've heard is excellent, was not available. No doubt that's because this is a local restaurant that makes its food from scratch, which is a huge plus, but when the menu items aren't available it defeats the purpose.

The service on both our visits was top-notch, with wait-staff that were well-versed on how the food was prepared and who were prompt and polite. The restaurant has a full-service bar and various drink specials, but also is kid-friendly.

Bobby V's is a winner and despite few glitches that can easily be worked out, it's worth a visit to check out a cool, contemporary take on comfort food.

Contact Bill of Fare at fare@theblade.com.

Address: 8165 Airport Hwy.

Phone: 419-491-1795

Category: Casual

Menu: American

Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday; noon-11 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday. Reservations are accepted.

Wheelchair access: Yes

Average price: $$

Credit Cards: AE, Disc., MC, V

Web site: bobbyvgrill.com


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