24530 Jefferson ∑ St. Clair Shores, MI 48080



June 13, 2013 at 1:00 am
Casual Mike's on the Water exudes a warm and friendly aura
Molly Abrahams


The lobster roll includes 1/3 pound of lobster meat and mayonnaise, served on a buttered and grilled New England-style hot dog roll with chips. (Photos by Max Ortiz /The Detroit News)
Call Mikeís on the Water and the voice that answers might well be Mikeís. And that pretty much sums up the difference between this low-key spot and the flashier destinations along the Nautical Mile in St. Clair Shores.

Mike Lefevre didnít just put his name on the low-slung building in Michigan Harbor Marina, heís on-hand and hands-on much of the time at his unpretentious wharf-side restaurant, the kind of place with a personality that is not dependent on neon signs and flashy decor. It makes its points in quieter ways.

People seated at the bare-topped tables in the bar, on the covered porch and under bright red umbrellas on the open-air deck make their choices from red, white-and-blue paper placemat menus with a nautical theme. It is a list of American bar & grill favorites appropriate to the casual setting. Most selections are served on red-and-white waxed paper in plastic baskets and brought to the tables by a staff that reflects the proprietorís warm and friendly approach.

As the watering hole enters its third season, there is a little more of an East Coast feeling to the menu with the addition of a glamorous new star. Itís the lobster roll, the New England classic of lobster salad piled on a toasted roll atop leaf lettuce and tomato slices. Those who love lobster but donít enjoy fighting with the shells will appreciate this dish, and itís already a hit. Of course, thereís clam chowder, as there has been from the beginning, but only on Fridays, and it is very good, not overly thickened as is too often the case. Crab cakes show up in a green salad with mango-sparked dressing, one of six available salads.

So that locavores donít cry foul, there are also Michigan classics, including an appetizer of smoked whitefish dip served with celery stalks and crackers and, of course, crisply fried lake perch when itís available. On a couple of visits here, I was surprised at how many people were ordering steamed mussels in a sauce of white wine, garlic and butter.

Itís not surprising, however, that Mikeís serves a very good Angus beef burger ó no respectable bar & grill could survive without one ó and the kitchen also produces a worthy New York strip steak. It is also certified Angus beef that comes in two portion sizes, 8 and 12 ounce sizes at $14.75 and $18.95, respectively, a nice touch. Come-withs include thin, salty, skin-on fries.

Oddly enough, there are no desserts. Mike says heís working on that. And chances are theyíll have a nice little twist ó like the tongue-in-cheek wine list, with labels with a water or water fowl theme, from Duckhorn and Waterwheel cabernets to New Harbor sauvignon blanc. All are affordable, especially the private label house wines at $5.50 a glass and $22 a bottle.

One caveat: Although it is called Mikeís on the Water, thereís little chance of being doused with Lake St. Clair whitecaps. The quiet little canal that laps alongside the deck will have to do.

Patio dining at Mike's on the Water in St. Clair Shores set diners along a canal leading to Lake St. Clair. (Max Ortiz/The Detroit News)

From The Detroit News:


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