What a treat to find delicious lunch and dinner fare, much of it made from scratch and some of it locally sourced, in an unpretentious storefront diner in downtown Dundee.
Its sister restaurant, 12 miles east in the midst of the Carrington Golf Club's course on M-50, shares a nearly identical menu and pricing but with long green views. Both have ribs, pizza and Italian favorites, burgers, wraps, sandwiches, fish, and salads.
RELATED CONTENT: Click to see more of The Blade's restaurant reviews
First, Dundee, which has flourished since Cabela's opened in 2000.
The River's Edge Pizza, Pub & Grille is not in the new-growth area that hugs US-23 but 1.2 miles east in the small downtown. It's across from the 1913 Memorial Grandstand (read the Civil War tributes on its eight sides if you have a few minutes to see who marched to the sea with Sherman) and backs up to the River Raisin dam.
It has a community bulletin board in the vestibule, booths and four-tops under antler light fixtures, and a modicum of country kitsch.
On many trips to Dundee to meet Ann Arbor friends, it's become our go-to spot because of its broad offerings, good quality, and reasonable prices.
Some favorites: slow-roasted baby-back ribs are as meaty and fall-off-the-bone as one would hope for ($10.99-$19.99). Beef brisket is tender ($11.99). Lasagna ($10.99) has ground beef and Italian sausage, ricotta and mozzarella, and is topped with homemade meat sauce. The Web site says pizza and pasta sauces are made from scratch; they're mild and hearty.
With a two-inch, golden-brown crust, the stuffed pizza ($13.99-$18.99) is generously sauced and packed with a quartet of toppings. We asked for carmelized onions but got sauteed onions without explanation (nor were we charged for them).
Two large fillets comprise Parmesan tilapia ($11.99), and this mild, farmed fish is well dressed with light Parmesan breading and a sprinkling of Italian herbs.
Dinners include two of many sides, such as homemade soup, of which I had a terrific chicken-tortilla soup loaded with red, yellow, and green peppers, light and dark chicken meat, black beans, tortillas, and hominy(!). Bravo! Another soup — stuffed pepper — tasted just like the best stuffed green peppers.
Several salad options include gorgonzola & pear ($8.99). Of particular interest to me were homemade dressings, both worth ordering: a sweet balsamic and a Michigan maple (a lovely dollop of syrup in a creamy white sauce).
A small whine: the house chippers, usually crunchy, were a mix of crisp (yay) and soft (boo) on one visit.
The River's Edge at Carrington sounds snooty but it's not. Turning off M-50, one drives through several streets lined with large, new homes to reach the modest clubhouse.
A smallish dining room has serene views of a narrow green flanked by trees; furnishings are a tad dated. A bar is separate, and a large patio overlooks one of many ponds.
A few items are offered only at this location, and one, the chicken pot pie ($7.99), was scrumptious: perfect, light pastry, delectable chunks of meat, and the requisite peas and carrots.
We also liked the homemade cannoli ($2.49), crispy outside with a smooth cream filling and mini chocolate chips on either end.
Service is good at both spots.
Contact Bill of Fare at email@example.com.
Star ratings are based on comparisons of similar restaurants. The Blade pays for critics' meals.