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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
This is one of the most beautiful dining rooms in Detroit or anywhere else, for that matter. This restaurant is located in the Detroit/Troy Hilton Hotel, formerly known as the Northfield Hilton Hotel. We first tasted this place's outstanding seafood when we moved to Detroit in 1984. It has never disappointed us!
The menu is printed each day to reflect what's fresh and on hand. Depending on the season, you'll find such temptations as walleye, perch, cod, haddock, Mahi Mahi, and on and on. They also offer a number of shrimp and lobster renditions.
On our most recent visit, I started out my dinner with a smoked salmon appetizer. It was out of this world and a huge portion. It was served with crispy toast sticks, for a lack of a better description, and the usual accompaniments. My wife went with a starter called, as I recall, dynamite scallops. She said they were quite tasty and had a bit of a kick to them.
Our server explained the specials of the evening and we were shocked to find fresh barramundi on the menu. Fresh barramundi all the way from Australia! My wife ordered it and I was very curious to see if it could measure up to the fresh barramundi that we had enjoyed while visiting Australia. My wife said it was great and I challenged her to prove it by giving me a bite! It was super!
While dining here, I usually go with a fresh fish but on this visit, I decided to go back to a rich tradition and order Charley's Bucket. It was the first thing I ever ordered at a Charley's Crab restaurant when we first dined there at their Cincinnati branch back in 1977. It was in an old house. Sadly it's now gone. Charley's Bucket now consists of a select (a pound and a half) live lobster, perfectly steamed, Dungeness crab (cleaned), mussels, corn on the cob and redskin potatoes.
The first Charley's Bucket back in 1977 consisted of the lobster along with steamed clams, some steamed shrimp, and some steamed snow crab, as I recall. And it sold for $15. The latest bucket cost $50!
The lobster was absolutely perfect served with drawn butter in a little cup that enabled a candle to keep it warm. The Dungeness crab was very good. The mussels, on the other hand, were way overcooked, lifeless and not very tasty. The corn on the cob was pretty much the same. Not worth bothering with. Joking with the server at the end of the meal, I mentioned that my corn was worn out and worthless and that the mussels were likewise. She seemed genuinely irked that I hadn't complained so that she could have rectified the situation. The truth of the matter? I was already stuffed in the first place with that incredible smoked salmon and the rich lobster.
My wife finished with sinfully rich, chocolate dessert while I topped off my evening with a cup of coffee and a snifter of brandy. This is a great dining experience but one that doesn't come cheap. But it's worth it.
I almost forgot to mention that they also offer steaks, chicken and other dishes for the non-seafood crowd. But come on folks -- you come here for the seafood!
The Muer family started this great tradition and you can read about all of their Charley Crab restaurants and others in the chain at their web site here. Landry, the seafood mega operation, now owns the Meur establishments and I hope they will strive to maintain the great quality we've enjoyed for decades at Muer restaurants.