Great meals off Grand River

A shortlist of restaurants in Farmington and Farmington Hills

Dec 19, 2012 at 12:00 am

$=$5-$10; $$=$10-$25; $$$=$25-$50; $$$$=$50+

2Booli Fresh Mediterranean Eats 37610 W. 12 Mile Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-994-0614;; $$: When it comes to Middle Eastern restaurants, for many diners, the lack of a liquor license is a deal-breaker. Farmington Hills' 2Booli addresses the problem with not only a full bar but a happy hour that lasts all weekday evening. They specially note their menu contains a "large selection of healthy vegetarian dishes," all of which are indicated by an image of a carrot on menu. So what is "Mediterranean" food anyway? Think of it as Americanized Lebanese food. For instance, you'll choose among grape leaves, kebabs, shawarmas (2booli's is "nontraditional"), rice pilaf, crushed and whole lentil soups, fattoush salads, along with a smattering of pasta dishes. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

Bangkok Sala Cafe 27903 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-553-4220;; $: Attractive space seats about 60, serving solid entrées (gingery pad king is great) and dreamy house-made coconut ice cream. Dine in or carryout; handicap accessible; kitchen can accommodate dietary restrictions; lunch reservations recommended. Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 2:30-9 p.m. Saturday; closed Sundays.

Bombay Grille 29200 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-626-2982;; $$: Grilled items are prepared in tandoors, deep clay ovens heated by actual charcoal fires for better flavor. You can watch the grilling through a window in the dining room. Wine, beer and liquor are offered. A special lunch buffet is offered daily. Open 11:30 a.m.-2:45 p.m. and 5-9:45 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-2:45 p.m. and 5-10:45 p.m. Friday, noon-2:45 p.m. and 5-10:45 p.m. Saturday, and noon-9:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Breakfast Club 38467 W. 10 Mile Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-473-0714;; $: Serious breakfasts: Eggs include omelets and quiche; flour-based fare includes pancakes, waffles, fresh strawberry cream cheese French toast and crêpes; spuds can come jacket-stuffed, hash-browned and even as potato pancakes with sour cream. Open daily 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m., will take reservations for parties of six or more. 

Camelia's Mexican Grill 30685 W. 12 Mile Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-474-0902;; $$: Sister restaurant to the one in Royal Oak, Camelia's Mexican Grill offers Mexican food made from fresh ingredients, with a wide gamut of heat levels. Not just tacos, fajitas and burritos, but steaks, sandwiches and even some vegetarian choices. Hearty choices abound. Their chalupa platter specialty stuffs ground beef or chicken in three deep-fried tortillas with sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. 

Culinary Studies Institute at Oakland Community College 27055 Orchard Lake Rd., at I-696, Building J, Farmington Hills; 248-522-3700;; $: The Culinary Studies Institute at Oakland Community College does more than churn out aspiring chefs; it offers the lunch-loving public bargain meals that will effectively derail productivity for the rest of the afternoon. Open 11:15 a.m.-1 p.m. on Thursdays; reservations required. Also, see the website and select "Dine With Us" to see a list of special meals that are open to the public. It has long been a well-kept secret, but no longer.

Greene's 24155 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington; 248-474-7980; $: Charming old white enamel steel structure has spent more than 50 years serving old-fashioned classics. The menu tops out at $2.49 for a double cheeseburger. The hamburgers are small and very greasy, but flavorful. Open daily from 9 a.m-9 p.m.

Hong Hua Fine Chinese Dining 27925 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-489-2280;; $$: More like fine-dining than authentic Chinese, Hong Hua is elegant. The eggplant in chili sauce is excellent, as is the tasty, slightly sweet and crisped mu-shu pork. There's also a full complement of fried rices, chow meins and lo meins. Master Chef Peter Chan suggests the beef sirloin and king mushrooms with "Maggie" sauce. Last year, Hong Hua was listed as a notable restaurant, rated in the 20s, by Zagat, so they must be doing something right. 

House of India 28841 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-553-7391; $: A four-course meal for less than $13? Yes, it can happen here. For mild, try lamb dopiyaza (with whole onions); for hot, stuffed bhindi (okra and onions). Best bet: mango lassi (with buttermilk). Offers a massive amount of vegetarian options, including oven-baked eggplant. They'll make vegetarian food, but some of the oven-roasted meat dishes are signatures, such as tandoori chicken or chicken tikka. Open daily 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.

John Cowley & Sons 33338 Grand River Ave., Farmington; 248-474-5941;; $$: Nestled next to an old theater in downtown Farmington, the pub has been offering guests Irish hospitality, great food and entertainment at the corner of Grand River and Farmington Road since 1972. Upstairs, it's all dark wood, including a 50-foot handcrafted oak bar refurbished from a church in Holland. Downstairs is more dining-oriented, and most of the customers during the week seem to be tucking in rather than just drinking. And why not? There's a lengthy menu ranging from salads with Tuscan beef to traditional Irish fare and American entrées. Open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-10 p.m. Sunday.

Kabuki 28972 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-538-0664; $$: Japanese and Korean specialties, including shabu-shabu and bibimbap. A wide assortment of sushi and sashimi is also offered, giving you the checklist where you choose your various kinds of nigiri and rolls. Entrées include salmon teriyaki, donkatsu, nabeyaki udon, tempura soba, kabuki bento and bulgogi.

Namaste Flavours 34749 Grand River Ave., Farmington; 248-471-5555; Casual Indian restaurant serves real Indian food, much of it from the south (think dosas) and the north, the cuisines of the "homes, wayside stalls and palaces," as they put it, all "in a friendly environment." Open 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, noon-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Saturday, and noon-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Sunday.

New Sahara 29222 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-851-1122;; $$: Chaldean restaurants are subtly different. Expect pickled cabbage as a starter, plus some tomato-based stews. And their daily specials are Iraqi favorites. The wide selection of entrées includes pan-fried eggplant and tomato over kafta.

Priya 36600 Grand River Ave., Farmington Hills; 248-615-7700;; $$: Priya is renowned for its excellent food, being a regular winner of Metro Times' Best of Detroit readers' polls. The older sister to the Priya restaurant in Troy, owner-chef Ravi specializes in various Indian dishes, but is especially talented with northern and southern Indian dishes. Many items on the menu are gluten-free, expect choices to include tandoori, biriyani, such unusual chicken dishes as kodi vepudu (chicken pieces sautéed with onions, spices and garnished with curry leaves), kozhi chettinad (boneless pieces of chicken cooked simmered in black pepper sauce, coconut, tomatoes and dry red chilies) or mango chicken, cooked in a special mango sauce. Then there are the southern specialties, such as idli sambar (steamed rice cakes with lentil soup), and dosas, or crêpes filled with everything from onions and chilies to vegetable curries. There's also an entire Indo-Chinese section, an interesting fusion of Chinese and Indian fare that includes such choices as "Cauliflower Manchurian Gravy," "Chicken Manchurian Gravy," "Eggplant in Garlic Sauce" and "Haka Noodles," traditional fried noodles, Hakka-style. There is much to explore here. Open 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, and noon-9 p.m. Sunday.

Ristorante Cafe Cortina 30715 W. 10 Mile Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-474-3033;; $$$$: The fresh pastas and veals are the real thing and the setting, aiming for elegance, does not disappoint. A regular Zagat notable, it scores in the mid-20s across the board. The goal of the kitchen is to present "hearty regional Italian cooking from 150 years ago, presented in an exquisite and modern way." Speaking of the holidays, their website sells gift certificates in denominations of $50, $100, and $150. Open 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 5-10 p.m. Saturday, open for special events some Sundays.

Shangri-la Garden 27626 Middlebelt Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-474-8183; $$: Large parties fill the round tables, scattered across several rooms. Large parties of Chinese, Westerners and both can fill those tables up on a weekend night. The kitchen does serve plenty of meiguorende kouwei — that's dishes cooked to American taste to you and me. So you can get Cantonese-American comfort foods like almond boneless chicken, various lo meins, sweet and sour chicken, and even chop suey, all served with an egg roll and fried rice. But there are also less familiar dishes, zhongguorende kouwei — "to Chinese taste." If you're adventurous at all, give them a try, including the chef's specials and the dishes labeled Shanghai-style. For appetizers, scallion pancakes are mild but satisfying, served with sweet plum sauce. Better are spicy salted quail, served whole with lots of crusty skin, onions and peppers. If you can, get "Chinese Eggplant Stuffed with Minced Shrimp" — the diagonally sliced pieces are bursting with stuffing; they're deep-fried and then braised with whole garlic cloves in a sauce of wine, soy, scallions — and lemongrass? The vegetable is sensually spongy, the flavors lush. This is the newest of three locations in the Shangri-La empire, with locations also in Detroit and West Bloomfield.

Tomatoes Apizza 24369 Halsted Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-888-4888; 29275 W. 14 Mile Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-855-3555;; $: GQ Magazine said Tomatoes Apizza serves "one of the best 25 pies on earth," and the joint's "Naples Sampler" was recently honored by Food Network Magazine as Michigan's best pizza. Thin-crust, fresh-tasting, naturally cooked, garlicky, made-with-high-art pizzas rank with the best in the area. Pepperoni, salami, sausage, ham, crab, anchovies and bacon? Our frequent contributor Jeff Broder has nothing but the highest praise for Tomatoes Apizza, which should tell you something. Both locations open seven days for dine-in, carry out and delivery, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, noon-10 p.m. Sunday. Now serving beer and wine at the location on 14 Mile Road.

Udipi 29210 Orchard Lake Rd., Farmington Hills; 248-626-6021;; $$: The only vegetarian restaurant along a stretch of Orchard Lake Road that is home to several Indian places. Unusual and delicious dishes, including vada, a savory donut made of lentil flour and dotted with bright green cilantro, and dosa, a crêpe made of rice flour, filled to overflowing with tomatoes, potatoes and onions. Open 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-9:00 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-10 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, and noon-9:30 p.m. Sunday.

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