Summaries of recently reviewed area restaurants, in the order in which they were reviewed, with the most recent at the top.
● Chic and unpretentious, Avenue Bistro, 6710 W. Central Ave. in Sylvania Township, is a small gem, serving standard American dishes on white tablecloths. The specials were terrific and the pot roast mouth watering. It has a dozen booths and tables in the contemporary dining room, high-tops in the bar, a well-landscaped patio, and live music on weekends. $$$ 4 stars.
● Ruby's Kitchen, 4933 Dorr St., is one of the few places in town serving up southern soul food -- everything from barbecue ribs, macaroni and cheese, catfish, smothered pork chops, hush puppies, and fried corn to neckbones, pigs' feet and "Cha-Cha" sauce. The food tastes fresh and isn't greasy. Ruby's scratching cooking, along with the family style dinning tables and friendly staff, make guests feel right at home. $$$ 4 stars.
● Rose & Thistle Pub & Restaurant, 203 Louisiana Ave., in Perrysburg is a long way from a typical pub. The upscale restaurant serves exceptional dishes such as braised shortribs, rack of lamb, and beef Wellington. It specializes in creative takes on dishes that combine fresh ingredients with smart preparation for a truly special dining experience. $$$$ 5 stars.
● Tony Packo's at the Park, 7. S. Superior St., has been serving up Hungarian and American classics for 80 years. From hot dogs and beer to chicken paprikas and stuffed cabbage, Packo's downtown location is a perfect spot to dine before the big game, or any time. $ 3 stars.
● Pho Vietman and Wishbone Fried Chicken, 3636 Upton Ave., combines two odd bedfellows pretty well. Pho means soup, and the humble little place offers huge bowls of rice noodles and 10 combinations of chicken, beef, and seafood. They aren't spicy but you can dress them up with hot and savory sauces, fresh Thai basil leaves, mung bean sprouts, and slices of a lime and jalapenos. Try the jack fruit milkshake or for a sweet dessert, share a warmed serving of sticky green rice (jello-like) and taro (a root veggie). There's also a good-sized soul menu, with fried chicken, fish, burgers, meatloaf, and all the expected artery-busting side dishes. $ 3 stars.
● A former Big Boy, Ciao! has served upscale Italian for two decades in Sylvania, at 6064 Monroe St. Its atmosphere is cozy, service is friendly and knowledgeable, and food is mostly excellent. The pollo suprema and code di scampi tirena are highlights. For more casual fare, try the trio of brick-oven thin-crust pizzas. A cup of zippy tomato soup is a standout, as are appetizers ravioli fritti and lightly fried calamari. $$$ 4 stars.
● Open since November, Star Bar and Grille, 5212 Monroe St., is at the far back of the Beverly Hills Plaza. Featured are a crisp contemporary decor, pretty young servers in little uniforms, a big outdoor patio surrounded by parking lot, and TVs tuned to sports. Several of the house specialties, though pricier than other items such as quesadillas and sandwiches, were good. Forgo appetizers, but indulge in a bowl of brown chips. $$$ 3 stars.
● Degage Jazz Cafe, 301 River Rd., in Maumee puts a major emphasis on fresh ingredients, creative flavor combinations, and a menu that changes on a monthly basis. The atmosphere is upscale and friendly and the food is tremendous. Be sure to check out the specialty pizzas. $$$ 4 stars.
● Evans Street Station, 110 S. Evans St., Tecumseh, Mich., is a destination restaurant 40 miles northwest of Toledo and worth every minute it takes to get there. It is housed in the town's former fire station and has plenty of ambiance to go with its top-notch dinner meals: bacon-wrapped chicken breast, roasted duck breast, Dijon-crusted pork tenderloin, and more. Several lunch items stand out as well, including the mac & cheese, and the BBQ pulled pork and smoked turkey and brie sandwiches. $$$ 4 stars.
● The Hungry I, 6060 Renaissance Place, is modern and chic, but casual enough to bring along the kids. While the restaurant manages to serve quality products, some dishes lack seasoning and others are over seasoned. The Hungry I does barbecue really well. We recommend the Texas BBQ pork sandwich and the rib basket appetizer. The crab cakes are worthy of a nod, but the kid's menu is a disappointment, with just four items from which to choose -- a burger, chicken tenders, grilled cheese, and macaroni and cheese -- all served with fries. $$ 3 stars.
● Star of India, 415 S. Reynolds Rd., is the third and newest Indian restaurant on South Reynolds Road. Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, it's in the chrome-dome formerly known as Dudley's Diner, and curiously, still lists seven flavors of milk shakes on an otherwise subcontinental menu. An especially good value is lunch, served on large stainless trays (as in cafes in India) that hold an entree and five side dishes. For dinner, choose from vegetarian, chicken, lamb, and seafood. $$ 4 stars.
● Village Pizzeria & Pub, 714 W. Temperance Rd., this mom-and-pop pizzeria doesn't offer much in ambiance but it does make a great thin, buttery crust pizza covered with plenty of mozzarella and fresh toppings. The deep fried mushrooms are delicious and for the diner looking for a unique fish entree, don't miss the smelt dinner. $ 3 stars.
● Fine Things Bistro, 38 S. St. Clair St., boasts an intimate setting in Toledo's Warehouse District. The specialty pizzas -- twice baked potato and pulled pork BBQ -- on Saturday nights, along with an entirely made-from-scratch menu and personal touches provided by the wait staff make it stand above the norm. $$ 4 stars.
● Myles' Pizza Pub and Sub Shop, 516 E. Wooster St., Bowling Green, near Bowling Green State University, brick-oven pizzas with spicy sauce are delicious and filling. The pub is dark and dingy, yet cozy and offers a full bar. Plan to wait a while for a seat and/or pizza. It's worth it. $ 3 stars.
● Cousino's Steakhouse, 1842 Woodville Rd., Oregon, means class, comfort, and delicious food. Established in 1945 and operated by the second generation, it's five minutes from the High Level Bridge. The menu offers the gamut of expected lunch and dinner items, and daily specials are often interesting and good value. There's a large outdoor patio. $$ 4 stars.
● City Diner, 4202 Monroe St., is a longtime greasy spoon that's worth a visit. The half-pound cheeseburgers and patty melts are outstanding. Try either with a side of greasy but tasty onion rings. Other standard diner fare, the Philly cheese-steak and the reuben were nearly as delicious. For breakfast options, consider the omelets; the Mexican and traditional were equally good. $ 3 stars.
● Ferdos Mediterranean Restaurant, 3065 W. Bancroft St., sits on the border of the University of Toledo campus and the Old Orchard neighborhood, making it an oasis in a bustling, heavily trafficked area. It specializes in good-to-excellent Middle Eastern food -- shish tawook, gyros, galaba, hummus, fresh pita bread -- and it's worth a visit for the meals and the chance to settle into a warm, comfortable, family-owned restaurant. $$ 3 stars.
● Trotters Tavern, 119 N. Main St., Bowling Green, boasts a cozy saloon setting and one of the most unusual and delicious dishes in northwest Ohio: the Brown Jug Steak Dinner. Make sure you go early Thursday through Saturday or you won't get seated. $$ 3 stars.
● The Seafood Restaurant, 5504 W. Alexis Rd., Sylvania, has been owned by one family for 50 years. It's a bustling, old-school roadhouse that capably serves more than a dozen different types of fish and shellfish, along with a smattering of beef, chicken, fettucini, and salads. The lunch menu includes standard sandwiches. $$$ 3 stars.
● Luckies Barn & Grill, 3310 Navarre Ave., offers a great sports bar atmosphere that is also a nice place for families. Don't miss the jumbo chicken wings and boneless "chicken bombs," plus the bacon-wrapped mini filets. A magician for the kids comes every Thursday from 6 - 8 p.m. $$ 3 stars.
● Fetoosh Deli, 6725 W. Central Ave., offers up big taste at a value price, with a full array of Mediterranean food. Side dishes such as lubia and mjadara pair well with the shish kefta and chicken taouk. Fetoosh also specializes in catering. $ 3 stars
● It's hard to go wrong at Petit Fours Patisserie & Cafe, located at the Historic Oliver House, 27 Broadway St. Quiche is a house specialty and is a must-try. So are many of its fine sandwiches, including the tuna Waldorf, Croque Madame, pulled pork, and roast beef. Bakery items rank among some of the best in the area. $$ 4 stars.
● 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. $$ 4 stars.
● Good Morning Holland, 1007 S. McCord Rd. in Holland, is a terrific new Mexican diner. The traditional Mexican dishes chilaquiles and mollete were standouts. Other offerings, including the Ok Pa burrito and even guacamole, proved to be inconsistent, in the good-to-average category. $$ 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. $$ 3 stars.
● Mulvaney's Bunker, 4945 Dorr St., is a great place to watch the big game, and the food, for the most part, is up to the challenge. Bunker balls with your choice of sauce are a fan favorite, as well as the fish and chips, and sliders. The wait staff's performance stands out as well. $ 3 stars.
● Golden Lily, 2223 S. Reynolds Rd., is the reprise of a Chinese restaurant that closed in 2007 after decades downtown. It's well decorated with artifacts from the old place, and the kitchen does a serviceable job with familiar dishes that have defined "Chinese" for a couple of generations of Americans. $ 3 stars.
● Big Blue's Ribs and More, 1559 N. Telegraph, Monroe, offers extraordinary American classics like ribs, steaks, key lime pie, and some of the best lobster bisque we've ever had. The exterior may be lackluster, but the interior is homey. $$ 4 stars.
● Home Slice Pizza, 28 South St. Clair St., does pizza New York style, with thin crusts, finely chopped ingredients and a wide array of options. The atmosphere is laid-back and 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; 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 West 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.
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