In a charming southeast Michigan town with a population of just over 5,000, you find a bustling restaurant that seats 150 people. The Common Grill is an upscale American Bistro with a seafood emphasis. Executive Chef and owner Craig Common is at the helm of this destination restaurant, where he flies in fresh seafood daily.
Location: The Common Grill located at 112 S. Main Street in downtown Chelsea, Michigan.
Menu: The Common Grill offers a seasonal menu with several vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free choices. While the emphasis is on seafood, those who prefer meat and chicken also have plenty of options. The blackened steak salad, Korean lamb ribs, and grilled chicken club will satisfy the landlubbers in your party.
A pleasant surprise is the separate dessert menu offering ten choices, from house-made ice creams and sorbet to traditional American comfort food favorites like butterscotch pudding and coconut cream pie.
The wine list has a variety of American wines with an emphasis on those from [amazon_textlink asin=’1540741516′ text=’California’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’theyums-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2cad0895-e1bf-11e7-ad80-c9171781d166′]. If you’re looking to [amazon_textlink asin=’1581572069′ text=’experience Michigan’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’theyums-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’45d2df47-e1bf-11e7-a704-7d01cc700654′] during your visit, you’ll also find several choices from the Traverse City wine region.
Thoughts: The vibrant bistro sports white tablecloths and black napkins. While many diners will take-in the local theatre after dinner and dress up in business casual attire, we didn’t feel out of place in jeans. The décor is wooden floors and exposed brick with murals of Chelsea’s small-town charm. The servers uniformed in black shirts with white pinstripes and black pants provide prompt and friendly service.
Some of my favorite dishes include:
- The Lobster Spring Rolls with an Asian slaw drizzled with a Chinese mustard sauce. The Lobster Spring Rolls are plentiful one-inch chunks of buttery lobster, mixed with Napa cabbage and then deep-fried in an egg roll wrapper. The Asian slaw is red, orange, and yellow, chopped bell peppers, mixed with chopped Napa cabbage.
- The Tuscan Pear Salad made with Bibb lettuce, honey pears, crunchy sugared walnuts, and gorgonzola cheese topped with an herb-balsamic vinaigrette. It comes either as an entrée or side salad.
- The Grilled Salmon Salad Santa Fe, which starts with a mildly blackened-spiced salmon laying on a bed of chilled crisp mixed greens. The bits of char-grilled corn add bursts of sweet flavor. Additionally, the salad includes creamy slices of avocado, halved cherry tomatoes, strips of roasted red peppers, shredded Jack cheese, crispy corn tortillas strips, all tossed in a charred Fresno-chili vinaigrette.
- The Shrimp and Lobster Fettuccine tossed in a red bell pepper cream sauce.
- The caramelized vanilla bean Crème Brulee is perfect for those non-chocolate lovers out there. (I know, unbelievably, they do exist.)
If you’re visiting Michigan, you’ll want to try some of the Chef’s Great Lakes offerings. House-made rosemary-sea salt flatbread crackers accompany the smoked Lake Superior Whitefish pâté for an appetizer with a Michigan flair. For Michigan-centered entrees, the black walnut-crusted Walleye is pan-fried and served with a citrus butter, wild rice pilaf, and sautéed spinach. The parmesan crusted Lake Superior Whitefish comes with an orzo pasta, lobster, radicchio, cremini mushrooms, garlic French beans. A roasted lemon-chive butter accompanies the fish.
Finally, the restaurant gets quite busy directly before and after scheduled plays at the Purple Rose Theater. Since the restaurant only takes reservations for parties of six or more, consider the theatre’s schedule when planning your visit.
Price Range: Appetizers range from $6.95 for The Grill’s seafood chowder to $14 for the Lobster Spring Rolls perfect for two. Entrée salads range from $16 for a grilled salmon salad Santa Fe to $20 for an olive oil poached tuna Nicoise salad. Entrées range from $15 for Pacific cod fish and chips to $18 for shrimp and lobster fettuccine. The entrees include soup or salad and warm poppy-seed rolls. Desserts range from $5 for a serving of house-made ice cream to $7 for a slice of coconut cream pie. With taxes and tip, lunch for two runs about $65.
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