Dundee pub nails state theme, but little else

Lake Michigan Braised Pork with garlic mashed potatoes.
Lake Michigan Braised Pork with garlic mashed potatoes.

DUNDEE, Mich. -- Great Lakes Eatery and Pub is pure Michigan. Everything from the Mackinac Bridge to the state's connection to the Great Lakes, gets a shout-out at the restaurant.

Capitalizing on the success of Cabela's, the restaurant sits just yards away from the outdoor outfitter near U.S. 23 and M50. Sticking with the outdoors theme of its neighbor, the bar features hardwood floors and booth seats made of logs.

MENU: Great Lakes Eatery & Pub

The decor showcases some of the state's greatest assets, including a photo of the Mackinac Bridge that stretches across the back wall of the restaurant and a smaller wall-sized portrait of Tahquamenon Falls in the Upper Peninsula. Each of the bar's tables depicts a Michigan lighthouse and more than 20 are featured throughout the place.

The menu boasts a variety of options, including fried pickles ($6.99) and a hot pepper cheese ball ($6.99) as appetizers. The chicken wings are typical bar wings, served with one of 10 sauces. We tried the spicy Thai chili lime sauce, but the thick sweet and spicy glaze couldn't mask the blandness of the wings.

The restaurant's sandwich menu features five picks named after each of the five Great Lakes. The Lake Superior Burger ($10.99) is an all-beef patty topped with a gooey fried cheese plank, sauteed onions, and sauce. The Lake Ontario Fish is a standard fish sandwich: breaded pollock, deep-fried and stuffed inside a hoagie.

We tried the Lake Erie Melt ($10.99) and the Lake Michigan Braised Pork ($10.99), pulled pork braised in Michigan craft beer and piled on a brioche roll, with a light glaze of sweet barbecue sauce and topped with cole slaw and onion rings. The flavors and textures on the latter create a savory combination of sweet and salty mixed with smooth and crunchy.

The Lake Erie Melt was loaded with thick cuts of bacon, turkey, and root beer glazed ham smothered with pepper jack cheese and topped with onion rings and barbecue sauce. The sandwich was served on a flavorless yellow and orange marble bread.

Service is hit or miss. On our second visit, our waitress couldn't answer our questions, and offered a lot of "I don't know" responses instead of explanations and suggestions. The waitress on our first visit was welcoming and pleasant. She chatted with us about the decor and other area attractions. She was accommodating and knowledgeable when it came to the menu.

During that visit, we ordered the "Best in Town BBQ Ribs" ($13.99 for a half rack) and the tempura-battered shrimp platter ($14.99). Dundee must be a really small town if that's the best it has to offer as far as ribs. Yes, the ribs were falling-off the bone tender, but that's where the bragging ends. The sauce was boring and the meat was flavorless and fatty.

The shrimp were jumbo-sized and wrapped in a thin, crispy batter, which was light and crunchy with a hint of spice.

Great Lakes opened in September, 2011 and still has a few kinks to work out, including its non-existing dessert menu and limited side dishes, which include potatoes, potatoes, and more potatoes. Mashed, baked or fried, take your pick.

Contact Bill of Fare at fare@theblade.com.