CHAMPCAR/CART: Kika's guide to eating in Michigan

Where to eat in Ann Arbor, Blissfield , Brooklyn, Chelsea, Clark Lake, Irish Hills, Jackson, Marshall.... Chelsea, MI. 28 MILES TO SPEEDWAY The Common Grille - Seafood -112 South Main Street - Chelsea, Michigan 48118 - Ph: 734.475.0470. Go...

Where to eat in Ann Arbor, Blissfield , Brooklyn, Chelsea, Clark Lake, Irish Hills, Jackson, Marshall....

Chelsea, MI. 28 MILES TO SPEEDWAY

The Common Grille - Seafood -112 South Main Street - Chelsea, Michigan 48118 - Ph: 734.475.0470. Go to Common Grill for a upscale casual venue housed in a 100-year-old restored building features pasta, fresh fish, great desserts and wine. Most items will run you for the most part in the range of $12 to $20, and dress casual. A live band plays at this restaurant to set the mood while you dine on occasion (call for details). Open for lunch and dinner. Feel free to order takeout. Reservations are best set by calling ahead before you visit. Accepts MasterCard and Visa for payment. The restaurant has arranged parking for customers.

Ann Arbor, MIchigan: 40 MILES TO SPEEDWAY

The Chop House, Steaks and Seafood 322 S. Main, Ann Arbor .888-456-3463 . -Sophisticated New York-style chophouse serves steaks, veal and lamb chops, venison, lump crab and Beluga caviar in a swanky setting . Of course, no one needs $40 caviar, any more than anyone needs a $31 veal chop, or a $35 porterhouse steak that weighs a pound and a half. But the Chop House isn't about meeting your needs--any decent burger joint could do that--it's about spoiling you, and that it does, quite admirably. The food is splendid, the atmosphere is swell, and the service is thoughtful and well timed. This is, quite simply, a great night out. The restaurant is elegantly clubby, with the moneyed, muscular look of a classic Chicago steak house: gleaming hardwood floors, lush leather banquettes, original oils in heavy gilt frames, crisp white linen, and lovely little table lamps aglow with complexion-flattering candle flame. The chairs are broad and comfortable. If you take things at a nice, leisurely pace--and at these prices, you should--chances are you'll be sitting in them for two or three hours. Beluga aside, the first course is the most uneven part of an otherwise impeccable menu. The shrimp cocktail ($10.95) is first rate, with firm, meaty prawns and just the right amount of horseradish in the sauce, but crab Louie ($11.95), a retro classic featuring lump crabmeat on a bed of lettuce, was too dull for even the splash of crème de menthe in the Thousand Island-like dressing to save. The oysters Rockefeller ($7.95)--four oysters baked with spinach and cheese--were fabulously creamy and light, like swallowing a cloud, but my wild mushroom sauté ($7.95) was an undercooked horror, with a surfeit of nearly raw garlic.

Palio's, Italian - Palio - 347 S. Main,Ann Arbor, MI 888-456-3463 . Comfortable southern Italian brought to you by Mainstreet Ventures, the folks behind Maude's and Gratzi. Downstairs, a cozy, contemporary Italian decor and a menu of hearty pastas, pizzas, meat and fish. Upstairs on the outdoor deck, a summery atmosphere and a menu of "dizko" dining wherein customers select appetizer-sized portions of chilled foods from waitstaff circulating with trays. Because of its upstairs-downstairs architecture, Palio remains somewhat polarized, but up or down, it's a reliable, mid-range night out

West End Grill Speciality items, small menu, but always good.120 W. Liberty Phone 734 747 6260 Hours: Tues­Sat 5­9:30pm (Fri & Sat til 10:30 pm). Closed Sun & Mon. The West End Grill may be on the western side of both Ann Arbor and the globe, but the story behind it lies due east, in Tokyo, where owners and U-M M.B.A.s Kaiser Yang and Roland Pohlman were working for Dole Packaged Foods and dreaming of opening their own restaurant. The two partners have taken the old Pawley's space on West Liberty and visually opened it up with light colored walls, and have also replaced the dramatic stained glass insets with subdued, spare artwork. The result is an airy, upscale restaurant serving a kind of East-Meets-West combination of Asian-influenced contemporary American cuisine, such as pancetta-wrapped prawns with Asian mustard sauce, tender salmon filets seasoned with soy sauce and scallions, mahi mahi teriyaki, and veal dumplings that taste like subtle, exotic won tons. The menu is presented verbally, which is a little confusing, but if you can hang in there and figure out what you want, the rest is smooth sailing

Gratzi's Italian 326 South Main Street , Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104 Ph:734.663.5555. This upscale restaurant serves Italian food. Expect the average entrée to cost in the range of $12 to $20, and dress casual, but fashionable. You'll be serenaded by live violin while you dine at this restaurant on occasion . Open for lunch and dinner. Click for a sample menu. You'll find that there is a good selection of wines. In addition, the restaurant has a lounge inside. Smoking is permitted in smoking areas. Feel free to order takeout. Reservations are accepted. Accepts MasterCard and Visa for payment

Escoffier 300 S. Thayer (Bell Tower Hotel), Ann Arbor, MI 734 995 3800 One of Ann Arbor's most elegant restaurants, and also, according to some, its most exclusive. This classic European-style restaurant strikes its regulars as warm, comfortable and delightful; others who say they've suffered snubs from Escoffier's staff find it cold, inaccessible and elitist. Whichever way it strikes you, it's hard to deny the simple power of chef Frank Lucarelli's take on the French classics, presented in seasonal menus with an emphasis on impeccable presentation and exquisite sauces. Unless you really know fine wine, do put yourself in the hands of Escoffier's very knowledgable staff, especially maitre d' and part-owner Terry McClymonds, whose whimsically formal style imbues Escoffier with a great deal of its European charm

The Earl Steaks, seafood and Italian dishes. French and Italian country cooking in candlelit, intimate surroundings. Live jazz. Mon.-Fri. 5:30-10 p.m. (Fri. till midnight), Sat. 6 p.m.-midnight, Sun. 5-9 p.m. (closed Sun. in summer). 121 W. Washington . 994-0211 The Earle's appeal is both sophisticated and elemental, with sleek lines, high tech pin point light and upscale jazz playing against flickering candles, lustrous wood and rough brick and stone walls. There are no windows, save for two at the front covered with cork, so while outside, it may be raining, snowing or even ablaze with sun, inside the Earle it's all velvety dark corners and twinkling light. Longtime chef Shelley Caughey Adams puts on a fine menu of rotating provincial French and Italian dishes featuring robust pasta dishes and classic presentations of fish, game and beef. Many locals consider this Ann Arbor's most romantic restaurant. It's easy to see why The Gandy Dancer Ann Arbor, fine dining (meat, fish, pasta)401 Depot Street Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104 Ph: 734.769.0592. During the Gandy's Chuck Muer days, this elegant restaurant housed in the beautifully restored Michigan Central railroad station on Depot St. made its name with seafood and fresh fish, as evidenced by the excellent smoked fish pate with which diners began every meal. The restaurant has now changed hands, but it remains one of Ann Arbor's fine dining pleasures. This is serious eating. Typical items are roughly $20 to $30, and people usually dress casual, but fashionable. The piano bar fits the style and sets the mood at this restaurant. Open for lunch and dinner. Smoking is permitted in smoking areas. Feel free to order takeout. Reservations are suggested. Accepts MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club and Discover for payment. The restaurant has arranged parking for customers, and there is valet parking available.

Weber's Inn, Ann Arbor (full menu, CART's home-away-from-close-to-home for the weekend).322 S. Main, Ann Arbor 888-456-3463 Weber's 1993 renovation took the hotel's restaurant from a conservative, traditional meat-and-potatoes experience to the more contemporary "Grand Cafe," a Peterhansrea-designed setting with adventuresome food like firecracker pork and smoked salmon farfalle. Today, the pendulum has swung back the other way just a bit; you can still get creative menu items like shiitake mushrooms in brandied cream, but traditionalists will also be happy to find old favorites like London Broil and Lobster Thermidor back on the menu. The standout here is the prime rib, a Weber's tradition since the early 50's. Order it medium to medium-rare, and make sure to get a plate of horseradish-spiked mashed potatoes on the side.

Jackson, MIchigan : 20 MILES TO SPEEDWAY

Gilbert's Steakhouse Steaks, Prime Rib and limited seafood Gilbert's Steak House, Jackson (renown for their steaks, but they have a full menu). 2323 Shirley Drive = Jackson, Michigan 49202 Ph: 517.782.7135. A steakhouse provides a showplace for antique Tiffany Lamps and a Brunswick Co. bar which is said to have come from the Morrison Hotel in Chicago. Dating back to 1946, Gilbert's Steak House has grown to a seating capacity of 318 people with a tradition of fine dining.. The typical meal runs for the most part in the range of $12 to $20, and people for the most part dress casual. Open for lunch and dinner. Feel free to order takeout. Reservations are accepted. Accepts MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club and Discover for payment. The restaurant has arranged parking for customers.

Giglios's Italian Restaurant, Jackson (Italian, or as close as Jackson gets. On M-50 southeast of downtown Jackson) 2241 Brooklyn Road Jackson, Michigan 49203 Ph: 517.787.5025 Visiting Giglio's Italian, you'll find a restaurant that is gonna serve up an Italian fare. Expect the average entrée to cost in the range of $8 to $12. Open for lunch and dinner. Reservations are not accepted. Accepts MasterCard and Visa for payment. The restaurant has arranged parking for customers.

Hunt Club, 1514 Daniel Street, Jackson, 517-782-0375 . For a different kind of dining experience visit the Hunt Club. Sports lovers can enjoy a multitude of TV viewing options in a casual atmosphere, casual dining (unique menu of bar food).

Jackson Brew Pub, 3020 Ann Arbor Rd. Jackson, 517-764-7177 casual dining (I-94 one-mile east of US-127). One of the newest additions to the Jackson area is the Jackson Brewing Company. Tours are available to observe the brewing process. Located in what used to be Schuler's Restaurant on Sargent Road at I-94, the facility has been completely renovated to include the brewing area. Enjoy freshly brewed beer along with a wide menu seven days a week.

Outback Steakhouse - 1501 Board Man, Jackson 517-784-7770 - It is an outback steakhouse Davis' Steak, 4243 Oaklane, Jackson 517-783-0898 casual dining (close to the track, delicious hunks of beef! M-50 and US-127)

MORE IN JACKSON: Alpha Koney Island 517/787-6290 , Antonello’s Italian Restaurant 517/768-1100 , The Big Apple 517/782-5526, Big Boy 517/787-5566 , Brandywine 517/783-2777, Cascades Manor House 517/784-1500, Eagles Nest 517/529-9121, Fazoli’s Italian Restaurant 517/796-1974, Freddy Peppers Restaurant 517/787-8530, The Granary at Ella Sharp Museum 517/787-2320, Ground Round Restaurant 517/782-3330, Heavenly Ham 517/782-6880 , Little Caesars Pizza Carryouts 517/782-6665, Lois’ Coffee Shop 517/782-3770, Maerlyn’s 517/783-3768, Mancino’s of Jackson 517/789-1021, Olive Garden Italian Restaurant 517/787-2388, Capitol Club 517/782-1344, Peppi’s Pizza 517/563-8092, Red Lobster 517/787-7820, Ted’s Firehouse Pub 517/782-8303, Todoroff’s Original Coney Island 517/787-6168, Tom’s Grill & Pub 517/764-4210, Viking Steak House 517/782-1268, Wendy’s (4 locations) 517/784-4094, White’s Chicken (3 locations) 517/787-3991

Marshall, MIchigan: 55 MILES TO SPEEDWAY

Malia's Fine Italian Dining. No Liquor license - 130 West Michigan Avenue , Marshall, Michigan 49068 Ph: 616.781.2171. Stop in Malia for an eatery that serves patrons an Italian fare. Expect the average entrée to cost in the range of $8 to $12. Open for lunch and dinner. Feel free to order takeout. Reservations are accepted. Accepts MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club and Discover for payment. The restaurant has arranged parking for customers.

Blissfield , ( 30 MILES TO SPEEDWAY- worth the drive!)

Hathaway House, , fine dining 424 West Adrian Street - Blissfield, Michigan 49228 - Ph: 517.486.2141 This fine dining restaurant serves American meals. Expect the average entrée to cost between $20 and $30, and plan to fit the scene by dressing casual, but fashionable. Open for lunch and dinner. Feel free to order takeout. Reservations are accepted. Accepts MasterCard, Visa and Discover for payment. The facility has arranged parking for customers.

Clark Lake ( 4 MILES TO SPEEDWAY )

Beach Bar,, 3505 Ocean Beach, Clark Lake 517-529-4211 casual dining (pizza, burgers, etc., great atmosphere on nearby Lake)

Irish Hills,( 10 MILES TO SPEEDWAY )

Golden Nugget, 7305 US 12, Irish Hill 517-467-2190 full menu (U.S. 12, east of the track) MORE IRISH HILLS: Basil Boys (517) 467-9292 , Beach Bar & Restaurant (517) 529-4211 , Big Boy Restaurant (517) 592-3212 , Burger King (517) 592-4076 , Eagle's Nest Restaurant (517) 529-9121 , Golden Nugget Restaurant (517) 467-2190 , Harold's Place (517) 467-2064 , Jerry's Pub & Restaurant (517) 467-4700 , Lyon's Tavern (517) 547-4664 , Marco's Pizza (517) 592-4444 , McDonalds (517) 592-6134 , Poppa's Place (517) 592-4625 , Shooper's Restaurant & Pub (517) 592-4107 , Subway (517) 592-5994 , Taco Company (517) 592-4026 , Willow Lake Restaurant (517) 547-5677

BROOKLYN, MI -- 2 MILES TO SPEEDWAY

Marco's Pizza - 145 Wampler's Lk. Rd. 517-592-4444

See you ;-) Kika

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