The Blade’s food critics reviewed 52 regional restaurants in 2017, some oldies but goodies, and some new to the dining scene.
The goal, as always, is to approach the task as consumer reporters with a list of pertinent questions: Is the food worth the cost (flavor, presentation)? What is the facility like (noisy, low-key)? Is the ambiance conducive to children? Is the eatery handicap accessible? Is there ample parking?
In other words, it’s not just a chance for our writer’s to chow down on the company dime.
Today we take a look back at the best of the best, those Toledo area restaurants that received a four-star or higher rating in the year just expired. Because The Blade pays for all critics’ meals — they make a minimum of two visits — there’s no danger of their being swayed by favoritism. And most of the places on the below list won’t have been reviewed since 2014; we try to maintain a three-year gap between visits unless a restaurant changes ownership and/or the direction of its menu.
Reviews of any sort are subjective; the writers bring their own perspective to the task. But the goal remains the same: To give our readers a best-effort look at restaurants from fast casual to upscale, and whether they deliver the promised bang for your buck.
The Americano Burger at Brim House.
● Brim House, 444 N. Summit St., achieves the rare feat of being both upscale and laid back, with a seasonal menu that’s heavy on meat and seafood. Under the watchful eye of chef Aaron Lawson, food arrives at your table looking as good as it tastes. We recommend the Bistro steak and any of the savory soups. There also also a few vegetarian options. Prices top out around $25 at lunch and $40 at dinner. $$$, 5 stars.
● The Common Grill, 112 S. Main St., Chelsea, Mich., has a contemporary menu that highlights seafood, but has much more, from the grilled beef tenderloin medallions and a mixed grill that saw grilled chicken breast with mango pineapple salsa, barbecued shrimp wrapped in bacon, and a grilled filet among the choices one evening. There also are soups and creative salads at lunch and dinner. Don’t skip dessert, especially the Peanut Butter Pie or the Warm Flourless Chocolate Cake. $$-$$$, 5 stars.
● Mancy’s Italian Grill, 5453 Monroe St., has spent the last 20 years doing Mediterranean cuisine right: pasta, steaks, seafood, and more in a cozy setting of beige booths and subtle lighting. The surf and turf Vesuvio and the lobster-shrimp heavy Diavolo are menu standouts. Make sure to save room for the house made tiramisu and gelato, both rich enough to make you weep with pleasure. $$-$$$ 4.5 stars.
● Real Seafood Co., 22 Main St., at the Docks, remains the place to go in Toledo for well-prepared seafood, from crab legs to fresh catch selections. Diners can get classic dishes such as shrimp Alfredo, or go for a fresh piece of fish steamed and served with rice, sauteed spinach, and a ginger soy sauce. The crabcakes are a must-try. Nonseafood eaters can go for steaks, chicken dishes, or burgers. The servers here are well-seasoned and attentive, to round out the experience. $$$, 4.5 stars.
Shrimp and lobster fettuccine at The Common Grill in Chelsea, Mich.
● J. Alexander’s, the contemporary American restaurant chain’s only northwest Ohio location, 4315 Talmadge Rd., is a great getaway from the casual and ordinary, with impeccable service and a well-executed menu. For mouth-watering dinner entrees the filet kabobs, the New York Strip, and cilantro shrimp will not disappoint. For lunch, we recommend the barbecue ribs, grilled salmon, and Mr. Jack’s crispy chicken platter. $$-$$$, 4.5 stars.
● Mancy’s Steakhouse, 953 Phillips Ave., is a Toledo institution that delights the senses. The restaurant delivers space to enjoy one’s company over some of the best steaks available. $$$$, 4.5 stars.
● Rose & Thistle, 203 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg is cosmopolitan yet unpretentious restaurant with a rotating menu based on seasonal local ingredients. $$$, 4.5 stars.
● Prickly Pear Southwest Cafe, 328 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. This inviting restaurant offers Southwest-inspired food that some would call upscale Tex-Mex, including enchiladas with duck and cojita cheese, soup topped with pine nut butter, New York strip steak roll-ups, and desserts that include an Apple Almond Tort and Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake. There also are more traditional burritos and fajitas on the lunch and dinner menu. $$, 4 stars.
● Granite City Food & Brewery, 2300 Village Drive W., Suite. 139 at Shops at Fallen Timbers mall in Maumee, tastefully dresses up the everyday menu, from the messy-good pulled-pork nachos and outstanding chicken limone, to the spicy shrimp tacos and decadent Sundays-only brunch. $-$$, 4 stars.
● Stella’s Restaurant, 104 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg, offers accessible, upscale American cuisine in an inviting atmosphere. $$$, 4 stars.
● Nagoya Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi, tucked in the back of Perrysburg’s Levis Commons, features traditional tables, sushi bar, and hibachi grills, each setting with a dinstinct menu. Diners can’t go wrong with steak or seafood. $$$, 4 stars.
● Sauce Italian Grill & Pub, 149 N. Main St., Adrian. Much of the menu offers delicious traditional Italian fare such as spaghetti and ravioli, but there are American-style items too, including burgers and salads. The pizzas are great. There is an attractive outdoor patio and a dining room with piped-in Italian songs. $$, 4 stars.
● Lickity Split, 2021 Glendale Ave., might be best known for its ice cream, but it also serves delicious and reasonably priced burgers, chili dogs, and specialty sandwiches. $, 4 stars.
● Fortune Inn Restaurant, 6725 Central Ave., offers delicious and authentic Chinese fare with a menu of more than 70 affordable dishes. $-$$, 4 stars.
● Small City Taphouse’s fusion of more than 60 craft beers, sushi, and other Asian cuisine is worth a visit if you’re in Sandusky. The downtown location, 202 Columbus Ave., is usually packed, and there is a reason that both tourists and locals keep coming back for more. $$$, 4 stars.
● Swig, 219 Louisiana Ave., Perrysburg, is a gastropub in downtown Perrysbug that specializes in charcuterie and craft beers, serving handmade in-house sausages and franks. There’s an interesting menu section called Curiosities that include a Duck Reuben and Scotch Egg, and sandwiches and salads also are served. $$, 4 stars.
● Michael’s Cafe & Bakery,101 Main St. No. 7, is the place to go for scrumptious sandwiches, salads, soups, and sugary sweets. The bakery opens early for those looking for doughnuts, pastries, and baked breads. Stop by for lunch and grab any of the in-house created wraps and salads. Portions are big and chef creations are tasty. $-$$, 4 stars.
● Yer Mom’s House of Eats, 316 N. Michigan Ave., serves creative sandwiches, tacos, soups, and salads with fresh, seasonal ingredients. The tiny eatery specializes in delivery and carryout. $$, 4 stars.
● The Sunset Bistro, 1220 W. Wooster St., Bowling Green, only adds to the happenings of Bowling Green. Its mantra of fresh ingredients and multiple options accommodate a range of tastes on an expansive menu. Be sure to try the dessert. You won’t regret it. $$$, 4 stars.
● M Osteria, 609 Monroe St., is a destination Italian eatery in downtown Toledo eatery ideally situated for the pre or post-Walleye crowd. Chef Justin Thomas helms a safe, solid menu with an emphasis on pastas and fish, with the occasional nod to American staples such as hamburgers. The service is extremely friendly, and if the food occasionally falls short of perfect, the dining experience remains perfectly enjoyable. $$-$$$, 4 stars.
● The Blarney Irish Pub, 601 Monroe St., serves pub food, good pub food. The sandwiches, including the Celtic Reuben and the Irish Dip and the Lobster roll that is on the Lenten menu, were terrific, and the Shepherd’s Pie remains a good winter dish even beyond St. Patrick’s Day. There’s also a nice selection of Irish and English draught beers. Service is attentive and friendly, and there is live music on some nights. $$, 4 stars.
● Rosie’s Italian Grille, 606 N. McCord Rd. in Springfield Township, has been a dining fixture since 1982 for reasons that include creamy-fantastic lobster bisque, bubbly hot mamma bread, and some of the best “house-made” pizzas in town. Depending on appetite, order one of Rosie’s light and satisfying salads, chicken Marsala blanketed by garlic mashed potatoes, or a hearty and delicious Grinder sandwich. $$, 4 stars.
● The Seafood, 5504 W. Alexis Rd., Sylvania, is an old two-story neighborhood home that remains one of the last Old Toledo restaurants. Started in 1953, The Seafood serves fresh fish and sandwiches with an old-fashioned charm in a sometimes rambunctious dining room. Some token specials make contemporary attempts, but they can largely be ignored for classics. Don’t skimp on the side items such as hashbrowns and handmade onion rings that are a real treasure. $$-$$$$, 4 stars.
● Sahara Restaurant, 326 W. Dussel Drive, Maumee, offers a wide selection of Mediterranean and American dishes. This hidden gem excels at lunch and dinner meals with fresh ingredients, generous portions, and something to satisfy vegetarians and carnivores alike. $$-$$$, 4 stars.
● Social Gastropub, 1440 Secor Rd., in Gateway Plaza on the University of Toledo campus, is the former Gradkowski’s Dining and Spirits. It is a good place for students to gather, and a good place to take their parents too. The menu is large and offers everything from an interesting selection of appetizers and burgers, salads, and sandwiches to entrees that include a bone-in ribeye, salmon served with a delicious creamed corn casserole, and a Brick Chicken Picatta. The desserts are not to be missed, and the bar offers signature martinis, flavored margaritas, and a nice selection of beers and wines. $$-$$$ 4 stars.
● Adams Street Cafe, 608 Adams St., gives the downtown Toledo lunch-going crowd somewhere to go for a meal that isn’t the same-old-same-old. Both carnivores and vegetarians can appreciate this pit stop, which offers a small but diverse menu with daily specials thrown in that include sandwiches and salads with smoked meats. $$, 4 stars.
● KotoBuki, 5577 Monroe St., has been a top-notch Japanese restaurant for more than two decades. The Ramen Noodles and the Dolsot Bibimbop were delicious, and the restaurant’s selection of sushi are big, bright, and bold. $$$$, 4 stars.
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