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Restaurant Review: Midtown Grill & Bar

We don't just partake in entertainment over here at MOTORCITYBLOG, we also fill you in on the restaurants you should be checking out (or avoiding, if that's the case). That's right, restaurants don't have to buy advertising in order to get reviews.

We're all used to the phrase "bar and grill". Those words are put together in that order so often we can't imagine ourselves saying it any other way. So then why is this restaurant called Midtown Grill and Bar? "The food comes first", explains Steve Gorji, the new owner, "because our passion is food".

Midtown Grill and Bar sits right where Ann Arbor Road merges with Plymouth Road. It's also close to Hines Drive, making it hard to miss for anyone driving through Livonia. On top of that, it's two doors down from Riverside Arena, where the Detroit Derby Girls practice at least two days out of the week. You could even run into some of them on a Monday or Wednesday night.

You might have known Midtown back when it was still called Herc's Roast Beef & Spirits. Herc's was there for 40 years, and before that it was a Howard Johnson's. Steve and his wife Natalia bought the place roughly a year ago, and just recently finished a major renovation that took about 3 months. Former Herc's patrons that come to Midtown won't recognize the new decor at all; the renovation is just that extensive. While the new menus seem so differently visually, inside there's a lot of similarities. The roast beef is still the house specialty, and they still offer seafood, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, and pizza. Many items even kept their old name, like the Inferno Burger.

One thing that Herc's never had was a wine list or craft beer. They have New Belgium's Fat Tire and other microbrews on tap. Their best wine is a cabernet savignon by Cakebread. The Gorji's don't just have a passion for food, they have a passoin for competition. They priced the cabernet savignon at $130 a bottle because a competitor priced it at $250, and they sell Magic Hat at $3.65 a bottle because another competitor sells it for $5.

As a Michigan native, I never really developed a taste for seafood, so I was at a loss for words when Steve surprised us with a plate of mussels. It's one of eight seafood appetizers that Midtown offers, and it's served in a garlic and sambuco sauce (the excess was soaked up nicely with the fresh rolls that were made onsite). I can say that Midtown converted me; I'll always look at mussels differently.

That Inferno Burger on the menu was calling to me, but if I'm going to truly evaluate a restaurant, I have to sample something that's a bigger challenge for the kitchen, so I got the roast beef. It was served in a heaping portion with ample au jus (the place isn't so fancy that the food is served in effete little amounts), and a side of mashed potatoes. The potatos were redskins, with the skins left in. You can't do mashed potatos any better than that. Even with all the expensive renovations, Midtown kept the price at the old Herc's level, $12.95.

The roast beef was great, making it hard to stop myself from filling up on it. I had to leave room for dessert so that I could try their cheesecake. All of their cakes and pies are made in-house by Natalia. Another big portion, and I was fit to burst.

Midtown Grill & Bar is open 11 A.M. to midnight, Monday through Saturday, and 11 A.M. to 9 P.M. on Sunday.

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All photos taken by Dan Bachorik

This post written by:
I'm a dork, I live in the Detroit area, and sometimes I take blurry photos on an outdated camera