Go for the home-cooked meals, stay for the pies

Miss Lily's beef and noodles.
Miss Lily's beef and noodles.

GRAND RAPIDS, Ohio — You've got to love a place that puts out an all-points bulletin for homegrown rhubarb.

"Please let us know if you know anyone growing any, we love supporting local farmers," says the Facebook note. That means Miss Lily's fixin' to make some rhubarb pies, and trust me, this is a woman who knows pie (a modest 1 1/2 cups of lard for eight pies).

A couple weeks ago, she asked for perennials to plant behind her old brick building in Grand Rapids. "Bring some in for Miss Lily to plant and get a free cup of soup or piece of pie :)." And you can't go wrong with either.

MENU: Miss Lily's

Miss Lily’s: ★★★★
Address: 24174 Front St., Grand Rapids, Ohio
Phone: 419-832-3000
Category: Casual
Menu: American
Hours: 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Sunday through Wednesday; 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.: Thursday through Saturday.
Wheelchair access: Yes
Average Price: $$
Credit Cards: AE, Dis, MC, V
Web site: Ms. Lily's Facebook page

Miss Lily's, in a turn-of-the-century building with an interior brick wall, is a perfect fit in this artsy, antiquey village on the Maumee River, 25 meandering miles from downtown Toledo. Comfy and friendly, it's divided with diner-style tables and chairs on the left and antique oak dining-room furniture and a grand piano on the right (where tea parties are held). Most of the food is homemade and delicious, suggesting meals mythical Grandma spent all day on.

Since its August opening, owner Teresa Williams (with husband Don) and Chef Mike have tweaked the menu, adding, subtracting, and making breakfast all day.

I can recommend:

The barbeque ribs ($16.99 and $21.99) were very good, absent fat, and with a mild sauce. The beef (tender, cubed) and noodles had just enough gravy ($7.99, and $1.99 more if piled on top of garlic mashed potatoes).

Veal liver and onions ($9.99 and $13.99), sauteed with lots of carmelized onions, is nicely done and met with the approval of my companion who grew up eating his mother's version. And a half-pound burger ($8.99) on a brioche bun (bacon, cheddar, apple-cranberry mayo, etc.) elicited an "OMG" from another friend.

The night we were there, steamed asparagus was the veggie, a treat when I eat out, because it's usually brushed with oil and tossed on the grill.

Two soups we tried were excellent recipes, almost stews: chicken noodle and beef barley. Ms. Williams says lighter soups, such as gazpacho, will find their way to the menu come warmer weather.

Well-seasoned meatloaf is cut into large slices, grilled, and served in a sandwich on a pretzel roll ($7.99) or as a stand-alone with two slabs ($12.99). Corned beef and turkey-corned beef sandwiches were delicious. One recent day, they ran out of a grilled baloney sandwich at lunch.

Then there's the pies ($2.99). If you're not a fan of this ancient dessert, you might experience gustatory conversion here. On two visits, we tried German chocolate, peach, blueberry, mixed berries, coconut cream, and banana cream. The fruit fillings are plump, lightly sweet, and taste like fresh fruit picked at its peak. There's also a case of beautiful home-baked goods near the front door.

Vegetarians can enjoy a couple of pastas with a variety of toppings, salads, and a sauteed veggie sandwich on Italian with an herbed cream cheese.

Service is kind of like Grandma's: slow, forgetful, pleasant. Chances are you'll be doing the wave to remind your server of something ordered but not delivered. And a vacuum cleaner might be run near your table at an odd time.

Note: There are specials, alcohol is not served, and tea parties with scones are offered.

Contact Bill of Fare at fare@theblade.com.