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Published: Thursday, 12/1/2011

Recently reviewed restaurants: 12-01

Summaries of recently reviewed area restaurants, in the order in which they were reviewed, with the most recent at the top.

● Zinful, 7541 Dutch Rd., Waterville, offers some made-from-scratch meals, a few German dishes, steak and rack of lamb, sandwiches, pizzas (made on flatbread), and fine desserts, along with a broad wine selection, craft beers, and a cigar shop. The simple oxtail stew (available Fridays and Saturdays) is delicious. Decor is contemporary silver and black. $$ 4 stars.

● Good Morning Holland, 1007 S. McCord Rd. in Holland, is a terrific new Mexican diner. The traditional Mexican dishes chilaquiles and mollete were standouts. Other offerings, including the Ok Pa burrito and even quacamole, proved to be inconsistent, in the good to average category. $$ 3 stars.

● Bobby V's American Grill, 8165 Airport Hwy., provides an intriguing take on classic comfort food with menu items like meat loaf, chop steak, and macaroni and cheese that put a twist on conventional expectations. With a few refinements, the restaurant could become a Toledo-area favorite. $$ 3 stars.

● Mulvaney's Bunker, 4945 Dorr St., is a great place to watch the big game, and the food, for the most part, is up to the challenge. Bunker balls with your choice of sauce are a fan favorite, as well as the fish and chips, and sliders. The wait staff's performance stands out as well. $ 3 stars.

● Golden Lily, 2223 S. Reynolds Rd., is the reprise of a Chinese restaurant that closed in 2007 after decades downtown. It's well decorated with artifacts from the old place, and the kitchen does a serviceable job with familiar dishes that have defined "Chinese" for a couple of generations of Americans. $ 3 stars.

● Big Blue's Ribs and More, 1559 N. Telegraph, Monroe, offers extraordinary American classics like ribs, steaks, key lime pie, and some of the best Lobster bisque we've ever had. The exterior may be lackluster, but the interior is hip and homey. $$ 4 stars.

● Home Slice Pizza, 28 S. St. Clair St., does local pizza New York style, with thin crusts, finely-chopped ingredients and a wide array of options. The atmosphere is laid-back and hip and the Potato and Carnivore pizzas were especially good, combining unique flavors for discerning tastes. $$ 3 stars.

● Shorty's True American Roadhouse, 5111 Monroe St., lives up to its Mancy's heritage, serving some of the best barbecue in the area. Its extensive menu is highlighted by the pork ribs and brisket, as well as the pork porterhouse and salmon. $$ 4 stars.

● Admiral's American Grill, 26 Main St. (The Docks), across the river from downtown with a terrific view, replaces Navy Bistro. Open since April, its kitchen and menu don't yet live up to its motto, "Great food and amazing atmosphere. Riverfront views without the riverfront prices." We hope it will. $$ 2 stars.

● Amerasia, 311 Superior St., Rossford, falls flat. The Chinese-American restaurant is a disappointment with cheap meals that taste even cheaper. $ 1 star.

● Bar 145, 5305 Monroe St., takes the gastropub concept to a fun level, featuring build-your-own burgers, a bustling atmosphere and live music. It's bar food served with a twist, making for an exciting evening out in a high-energy restaurant. $$ 3 stars.

● Burger Bar 419, 4400 Heatherdowns Blvd., has gourmet burgers and shakes, as well as imaginative appetizers, a huge drink selection, and a hip atmosphere. It's hard to go wrong when selecting from its menu, but the Mother and Child chicken sandwich and the Three Little Pigs pork sandwich were highlights during our visits. $$ 4 stars.

● OK Patron Fajita Bar, 27393 Helen Dr., Perrysburg, is worth the wrong turn you might make on your first visit. Tucked between I-75 and the Holiday Inn French Quarter, this family-owned Mexican place has a large and varied menu, homemade salsa and guac with lots of cilantro, and good quality food. Best bet: the $6.99 fajita bar, available only at lunch. Service can be slack. $ 3 stars.

● Reverend's Bar & Grill, 130 E. Wooster St., Bowling Green, puts a modern twist on classic pub grub with several superb sandwiches and entrees. Particularly enticing are the California BLT, the fish and chips, and the impressive beer selection. $$ 4 stars.

● Cinco de Mayo Amigos Cantina West, 6975 W. Central Ave., offers a vast menu of Mexican food served hot and fresh in a variety of dishes. The shrimp fajitas are loaded with sizzling seafood and one of the restaurant's highlights is the delicious chile verde burrito, which features pork tips in a soft tortilla shell and verde sauce. $$ 3 stars.

● Basin St. Grille, 4201 Monroe St., has a wonderful wood-fired grill to showcase steaks, ribs, and New Orleans-inspired seafood. The West Toledo restaurant also specializes in martinis. The house special filthy dirty martini is recommended. $$ 4 stars.

● LaRoe's Restaurant, 24138 Front St., Grand Rapids, is a beautiful drive and a worthy destination. It offers a wide variety of American classics. Recommendable are the baby-back ribs, apple-smoked pork chops, the beer flights, and the ruby-red Dornfelder wine. A deal is the Sunday breakfast buffet, not huge but with the usual suspects. $$ 3 stars.

● Darla's Thai Pan, 4011 Secor Rd., offers some of the best service in the area, although the entrees and interior are a little on the bland side. The house special chiang mai fried rice is worth a try with familiar flavors and a great presentation. The gang masaman, or yellow curry, is sweet spicy and filling. $$ 3 stars.

● Arturo's Fritz and Alfredo's, 3025 North Summit St., features a unique mix of Mexican and German menu offerings and an exceptionally congenial wait staff. The German entrees are especially strong and the restaurant's sausages, various schnitzle-style meals, and gravy make for excellent comfort food. $$ 3 stars.

● Crystal's Restaurant, 3536 Secor Rd. in the Ramada Inn, doesn't really have much to recommend it. Some of the lunch selections were OK -- such as the Cajun chicken wrap and the turkey Toledo reuben, as well as the chili. Beware of the salt: Many menu items used way too much. $$ 1 star.

● River Cafe & Marina, 6215 Edgewater Dr., Erie, at the tip of Point Place, is a beautiful setting on the mouth of the Ottawa River. It serves lunches and dinners and has an outdoor deck. It offers weekly specials and many fish entrees; most of which we had were average. The simpler sandwiches, salads, and baskets may be better choices. $$$ 3 stars.

● Asian Grill, 1813 Tiffin Ave., Findlay, offers some of the region's best Korean and Japanese cuisine. Homemade spicy kimchee, delicious bright golden ginger salad dressing, and exceptional sushi and sashimi rolls make this little restaurant a winner. Of the truly extraordinary entrees, tender and sweet beef bulgogi stands out as does the jab-chae, featuring sweet potato noodles and a heady smoky sauce. $$ 5 stars.

● Amie's Pizza Factory, 6710 West Central Ave., focuses on award-winning specialty pizzas. Where else can you find ingredients such as baked potatoes, hot dogs, and sauerkraut? We highly recommend the 2002 Pizza Challenge winner, which includes garlic butter and chicken, but you can't go wrong with a lot of other Amie's pizzas, and part of the fun is exploring the variety. $ 3 stars.

● The Original Rick's City Diner, 2633 W. Bancroft St., serves rich fluffy blueberry pancakes and indulgent cinnamon walnut waffles as part of its breakfast offerings. Lunch highlights include an Italian beef sandwich and thick, chunky chicken noodle soup. $ 3 stars.

● Webber's Waterfront Restaurant, 6339 Edgewater Dr., Erie, is within steps of Point Place on the Lost Peninsula. Arrive for dinner before 6 p.m. on a balmy weekday (or after 1 p.m. Sundays), so you can claim a table on the breezy patio and watch small watercraft putter in and out of the wide mouth of the Ottawa River. Standard offerings of seafood (the coho salmon was great) and the requisite cow, chicken, salads, and sandwiches are fine. Note: many items, such as a dinner salad, cost extra. $$$ 4 stars.

● Spicy Tuna Sushi Bar & Grill, 7130 Airport Hwy., Holland, offers some excellent sushi rolls, but the entrees sadly fall short. For many sushi-lovers, that is more than OK. In particular, the funky monkey baby and the rainbow roll feature loads of fresh raw fish and unique presentations. $$$ 3 stars.

● Angelo's Northwood Villa, 6630 South Dixie Hwy., Erie, is a supper club -- white tablecloths, surf and turf, chandeliers -- reminiscent of a bygone era, and therein lies its old-school charm. The 40 entrees include steaks and prime rib, pastas, seafood (including frog legs and perch), chicken, and veal, often splashed with delicious homemade sauces, and there's an extensive wine list. $$$ 4 stars.

● Foccacia's Delicatessen, 333 N. Summit St., deservedly is one of the busiest lunch locations in downtown Toledo. With such tasty selections as Mama's Pot Roast and the Holy Toledo, you can't go wrong with one of the deli's signature sandwiches. Its soups, salads, and cheesecake are top notch as well. $$ 4 stars.

● Barada Mediterranean Cuisine, 5215 Monroe St., is a solid restaurant with an expansive menu that features Syrian and Lebanese specialties. The shish kafta is a step above anyone else's in Toledo, and Barada's seafood and other specials are ample and flavorful. Don't forget the delicious hummus for an appetizer at this restaurant that specializes in excellent customer service. $$ 3 stars.

● KotoBuki Japanese Restaurant, 5577 Monroe St., in Sylvania hasn't lost its luster in the decades that it has fostered our local love of sushi. The KotoBuki roll and the Toledo roll along with the yaki soba noodles stand out on a menu packed with some of the area's best Japanese fare. $$$ 4 stars.

● San Marcos Taqueria, 235 Broadway St. is a popular and authentic taco restaurant that has evolved from a tiny lunch counter at the back of a Mexican grocery store, also called San Marcos. It's just south of downtown at the foot of the High Level Bridge, and you still enter through the grocery. The recent expansion includes daily specials that bump the menu up a notch, a liquor license, and dramatic murals in the back room. There's also a small taco shop at 719 Galena St. in North Toledo. $ 4 stars.

● La Forchetta di Pasqualone, 2022 Woodville Rd., Oregon, is an OK place to go if you're looking for a no-thrills Italian-American meal. The gnocchi ai quatro formaggio and fettucine alla panna are good choices. The ravioli di ricotta is pretty solid as well. $$ 2 stars.

● Charlie's Homemade Pizza and Edibles, 6600 Sylvania Ave. in the Saxon Square strip mall, is under new ownership, but the restaurant remains a great place for Italian comfort food. Charlie's pizzas are top-notch and far better than what you'll find at any chain, and the lasagna and manicotti are excellent. $$ 3 stars.

● Michigan Bar & Grill, 1140 South Monroe St., Monroe, may lack curb appeal, but it more than makes up for it with spectacular thick prime rib, exquisite desserts, and a relaxing and romantic interior. $$$ 4 stars.

● Tropical Smoothie Cafe, 1385 Conant St., Maumee, is healthy fast food (sandwiches, wraps, salads, soup, smoothies, and breakfast) in a cheerful decor. It's pricier than the fast-food joints of the last century but worth it for the quality of meat, fruit, vegetables, and breads. This is a smart, contemporary franchise, the only one in the area. $ 4 stars.

● Harbor Inn & Ale, 13993 Laplaisance Rd., Monroe, is the perfect spot for a burger and a beer. But it also has a varied seafood selection -- from shrimp and sausage cioppino to bluegill sliders. The onion rings are a can't-miss appetizer or side order. $$ 4 stars.

● Magdalena's Bar and Grill, 1955 West Alexis Rd. is a fine place to go for a drink and a game, but the food is another matter. The lunch taco buffet on Mondays and Tuesdays is solid, and the fajitas have some zing, but some of the other Mexican entrees fall short of expectations. $$ 2 stars.

● China House, 255 Golden Gate Plaza, Maumee, stands out from the common Chinese take-out restaurants that dot area strip malls. Efficient service, great value, and superbly prepared food are just a few reasons to make this your 'go-to' place for quick meals in Maumee. Particularly worthwhile are the mei fun noodles and hearty budget-friendly lunch specials. $ 3 stars.

● Mac & Tong's Restaurant and Lounge, 4330 W. Central Ave., is a great choice for dinner, not so much for lunch. From duck with orange marmalade to shrimp fettuccine to New York strip steak, you can't go wrong when dining in the evening. Beware of cold dishes and salty sandwiches during the lunch hour. $$$ 4 stars.

● The Common Grill, 112 South Main St., Chelsea, Mich., is a sublime dining experience. The atmosphere is close to that of a French bistro, and chef Craig Common's creations are inventive without being oddball. The pan-fried walleye in a black walnut crust and the pine-nut crusted scallops are well worth the drive. $$$ 5 stars.

● Deet's BBQ, 1385 Conant St., Maumee, just might be the best barbecue joint in Toledo. The ribs are big and meaty, the sauces are simple but tasty, and you can't beat the pulled pork or barbecue chicken on big sturdy buns and the homemade side dishes. The menu isn't vast, but the folks who work at this family-run restaurant are friendly. Be warned, though: the place is small, with seating for only 12, so you might want to carry out. $ 3 stars.

● Caper's Restaurant & Bar, 2038 South Byrne Rd., is a low-key neighborhood place with a wide variety of great pizzas (crusts, bread, and sauces made in the kitchen), pasta dishes, and calzones. The ribs are succulent, and there are burgers, fish and chips, and several oven-baked sandwiches. Check out the warm bread pudding topped with Kahlua, brown sugar, candied walnuts, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. $$ 3 stars.

● Glass City Cafe, 1107 Jackson St., serves tasty diner food that's easy on your wallet. The Glass City burger is one of the many highlights on the menu, as are the meat-lover's omelet and french toast. The cafe also serves as an after-hours dining destination on the weekend. $ 3 stars.

● Bai Du, 26530 Dixie Hwy., Perrysburg, serves Chinese-American food, things like kung pao chicken, orange beef, and won ton soup. There's nothing upscale about it, and Chinese nationals probably wouldn't recognize most of what's on the menu. But hey, there's a time for authenticity and a time for sweet and sour chicken. $$ 3 stars

● Ice Restaurant and Bar, 405 Madison Ave., is an unpretentious upscale dining experience in the shadow of the Huntington Center in downtown Toledo. Live jazz plays on Thursdays, and the restaurant has a warm, friendly vibe. Check out the pan roasted walleye or the salmon and soak in a unique atmosphere that makes your night out feel special. $$ 3 stars

● Oregon Inn on Bayshore, 6067 Bayshore Rd., Oregon, is a homey, off-the-beaten-track roadhouse, 20 minutes from downtown Toledo at the western edge of Maumee Bay State Park. A broad selection -- prime rib, Lake Erie perch and walleye, pork loin, frog legs -- is well prepared and augmented with home-made soups. $$ 4 stars.

● Manos Greek Restaurant, 1701 Adams St., is one of the many ethnic restaurants in the Toledo area, and this one isn't to be missed. Manos' gyros and spinach pies are first-rate, and it serves everything from lamb shanks to baklava. $$ 4stars.

● Tea Tree Asian Bistro, 4100 Chappel Drive, Perrysburg, can boast a stylish and sophisticated interior along with extraordinary sushi, but some of the appetizers and entrees fell short of the great expectations and comparatively high prices. $$$ 3 stars.

● Zia's Restaurant, 20 Main St., at the Docks, emphasizes the sturdy fare Americans have come to consider Italian cuisine: pastas, cream or tomato sauces, pizzas. But if you look closer, you can find chicken, steaks, and seafood, mostly with creative Italian twists. Service is pleasant and efficient, and desserts are wonderful. $$$ 3 stars.

● Ahmed's Steakhouse, 1923 West Alexis Rd., exudes family atmosphere and warmth. As its name suggests, one of the menu's strengths is the restaurant's steaks, but there are plenty of seafood and chicken offerings, all served with a Middle Eastern twist. $$ 3 stars.

● Spaghetti Warehouse, 42 South Superior St., remains largely unchanged in the 28 years since it opened in a one-time brewery on downtown's south side. That holds nostalgic charm for some; for others, it appears dated. But if you're hankering for hearty pasta in a big place full of stained glass and antiques, and you don't mind a wait staff that encircles patrons with hand-clapping birthday chants, add this family-friendly spot to your list. $$ 3 stars.

● Baldy-Q Rib Shack, 90 Dodge St., Swanton, is on its way to being known as the place to go for ribs. The smoky, fall-off-the-bone ribs, paired with one or more of the house barbecue sauces, makes Baldy-Q a destination place for meat lovers. Don't forget to leave room for the tasty corn cakes. $ 3 stars.

● Sebastiano's Italiano,4448 Heatherdowns Blvd., is simply a delightful little neighborhood place that has an owner with a huge smile and an even bigger talent for re-creating the Tuscan recipes of his mother and grandmother. The Tricolore will make a carnivore forget about meat, and the Mare and Monte offers a great combination of flavors and textures. If veal marsala is on the menu, it's worth every penny. $$ 4 stars.

● Balance Pan-Asian Grille, 541 The Boulevard, Maumee, offers a unique 'modular' menu that's big on flavor, variety, and value in a cool minimalist bistro. Diners choose one of five proteins, along with one of five carbs and one of the spectacular sauces to customize fresh, healthy meals. $ 4 stars.

● Adam's Place, 2417 West Laskey Rd., is back in the hands of its original owner, serving excellent steak, fish, and ribs along with a fine sampling of desserts at its Wernert's Corners location. With the feel of a big-city neighborhood restaurant, this place is an understated gem. $$ 4 stars.

● Table Forty 4, 610 Monroe St., is a handsomely renovated century-old building downtown, with a well-rounded menu of tasty sandwiches, specialty salads, and entrees. Opened in April by the owner of the Maumee Chop House, it has a great street-facing patio for mild weather. When crowded, it's noisy. $$ 4 stars.

● Plaza Azteca, 5125 Monroe St., offers Toledo authentic Mexican food that isn't swimming in liquefied cheese. The chori-pollo has a smoky flavor with a little kick from the chorizo, and the tacos al pastor rival some of the best tacos in the city. And don't forget to say, "Mas margaritas, por favor." $$ 4 stars.

● DiBenedetto's Italian Bistro, 121 South Main St., Bowling Green, has a prime downtown location with a sophisticated urban atmosphere and excellent food. The chicken saltimbocca is spectacular as is the antipasto plate. For dessert, the amaretto parfait is a sublime guilty pleasure. $$ 4 stars.



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