Clementine’s stands grandly at the corner of Phoenix and Center Streets. A majestic golden copula crowns the red-brick building, making it impossible to miss.

Clementine’s: American Food in South Haven, Michigan

Clementine’s stands grandly at the corner of Phoenix and Center Streets. A majestic golden copula crowns the red-brick building, making it impossible to miss.

Location: Clementine’s, located at 500 Phoenix Street in downtown South Haven, Michigan. Find the restaurant’s website here.

Menu: Clementine’s menu has a wide variety of American classics, where they make everything in house from fresh ingredients. Their menu features many dishes made with Michigan ingredients, like yellow lake perch and cherries. You’ll also find a few Mexican inspired choices scattered throughout the menu.

In 2019, they sold 14 tons of the classic pan-fried yellow lake perch. Perch is a local favorite. You can imagine how delicious they are to sell so many. Add to that the house-made, golden-brown onion rings that they serve in a tower format on a wooden peg. You can order those as a six-inch tower or a 12-inch tower. In 2019, they served eight miles of those onion rings, inch-by-inch!

Clementine’s is famous for their house-made ranch dressing, so be sure to try it on a salad or use it as a dipping sauce for their warm breadsticks. They also drizzle the ranch dressing on their ranch house chicken sandwich, a sautéed chicken breast, topped with smoked bacon, melted Monterey jack cheese, served with lettuce and tomato slices.

Another delicious house specialty dressing is Clem’s sweet onion dressing.

Vegetarians have options. Many would enjoy the South Beach grill, a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich with melted Fontina cheese on whole-grain bread. Clementine’s amped up the flavor with fig jam, sautéed apples, and mixed greens for a satisfying sandwich.

Substitute a black bean burger for any of the burgers, if you’d prefer, and those with gluten challenges can order a gluten-free bun.

Clementine’s also provides a special menu for the kiddos.

Thoughts: Originally, the Citizen’s State Bank building, built in 1896, Clementine’s showcases many of the bank’s original features—exposed brick, ornate tin ceilings, woodwork with stunning details.

Their printed menu featured vintage photos of South Haven in the early 1900s. Nautical references gave the menu a beach-town feel. You’ll find sections, like The Fish Market and The Lighthouse, which referenced items like steaks and ribs.

Some of my favorite dishes included:

  • Matilda’s cheese dip, made from artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and baby spinach, baked into a bubbly combination of Fontina and Parmesan cheeses. The Fontina cheese melted into an ooey-gooey spread, while the roasted red peppers added a distinctive flavor to the dish. They served the dip with a choice of tortilla chips or warm breadsticks, but if you can’t decide and you ask nicely, they’ll serve you both.
  • Zucchini appetizer. The chef hand-cut the zucchini and dredged it in Parmesan breadcrumbs. Then, they flash-fried it and served it with Clementine’s creamy herb dip. These were difficult to stop eating.
  • The Thai chicken linguine, which is a stir-fried offering. The dish has chicken with a ton of veggies mixed in. You’ll find green onions, pea pods, zucchini, roasted green, and red peppers, and peanuts tossed with a spicy peanut sauce served over linguine.
  • Bob’s baby back ribs. Clementine’s award-winning baby back ribs are smoked and slathered with a tangy barbecue sauce. They served these with garlic toast and an accompaniment.

Price Range: At dinner, starters range from $6.25 for onion rings to $13.50 for the New Zealand green lip mussels. Salads range from $5.95 for the junior Caesar salad to $13.95 for the tumbleweed steak salad. The soups are $4.75. Entrees range from $12.95 for a glazed chicken breast called the Red Rooster to $26.95 for the Roscoe ribeye. The entrees included starch and vegetable. Dinner for two was about $50, including taxes and gratuity.

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