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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
A PERSONAL REVIEW OF RESTAURANTS AROUND THE WORLD

J. BALDWIN'S
CLINTON TOWNSHIP, MICHIGAN

Note: J. Baldwin's suffered a major electrical fire in May of 2013.  Owner Jeff Baldwin hopes to have the restaurant back open by summer's end.

This is a great find!  And given that it's tucked away in a little strip mall behind a gas station and hard to find, people flock here for a reason!  The great food!  Word of mouth has spread rapidly and on weekends, this place is packed to the gills.

My daughter first took us here a couple of years ago for their Friday night special all-you-can-eat Alaskan snow crab legs.  But various diners at the table have tried a variety of other dishes and they have all been just great.

If you do love snow crab, the quality and size of the legs at J. Baldwin's is the best I've ever seen.  They are big, served piping hot and with plenty of drawn butter -- not margarine, which too many restaurants use -- but the real deal.  Under your crab legs you get mixed veggies and some garlic smashed potatoes.  This is my only complaint about J. Baldwin's.  The veggies and taters should be served on a separate plate so as to not muck up the crab legs!

Kids love this place because as they are seated, they are given some raw dough to mold into something.  The dough is then sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon and baked while the rug rats eat dinner and then presented to them in a to-go baggie at the end of the meal.

They also do something really nice for dessert for the little ones.  They bring a "make your own Sundae" tray to the table.  Each kid gets a bowl of ice cream, their choice of strawberry or chocolate sauce in little squeeze bottles, and various accompaniments including sprinkles.  And they're priced at only $2.99 each.  Neat!


Kids' Make Your Own Sundae Tray

On our most recent visit the restaurant was celebrating Mardi Gras and everybody got beads.  The kids got masks or hats.  They had a special menu that night, too.


Mardi Gras Decorations And Little Kid With Mask -- See Him At Bottom Right?

During this meal I started off with a cup of crab bisque and it was out of this world.  Thick, creamy, rich, and wonderful.  Other diners ordered a batch of calamari and I managed to mooch a bite and it was fantastic.  I hate to admit it but all but one at the table got the crab leg special on this visit.  My wife tried a Mardi Gras special consisting of a filet mignon steak (cooked very rare, just like she likes it), a small lobster tail and a crab cake and she raved about everything.  For the rest of us, the crab legs were great.  And we shared a couple of bottles of $20 Australian wine.  Very nice vino and at more than a fair price.

In previous visits we've tried the coconut shrimp, crab cakes, chicken marsala and other dishes and we've never been disappointed.  They're said to be famous for their pizzas cooked in their stone fired oven but we've never tried them yet.  We'll correct that mistake on our next visit!

If you live in the Detroit area and especially on the east side of town, you really should give this place a try.  Again, though, if it's on a Friday or Saturday night, you'll need a reservation.  This place is extremely busy and for good reason.

Jeff Baldwin is the chef behind this establishment.  It's interesting to watch him in action behind the semi-open kitchen.  He's anything but a Gordon Ramsay type chef!  No yelling, screaming or tantrums.  Instead he's cool, calm, and meticulous.  By the way, there is a picture of chef Baldwin and chef Ramsay posed together as you walk in the front door.

You'll find J. Baldwin's just off of Garfield Road in Clinton Township.  But keep an eagle eye out for it or you'll fly right by it, especially after dark.  Technically it's on 18 Mile Road at Garfield.  For more information and reservations, click on their web site here.