Steve & Rocky's in Novi -- always a standout for its fresh, seasonal food and affordable prices -- is sporting a fresh new look in the dining room.
The $250,000 makeover includes a soothing palette of warm, rich colors on the walls along with new carpeting, bold black metal sculptures framing oversized mirrors, sleek new chairs and lighting, and decorative works by Michigan artists.
But the new décor isn't the only reason to visit before summer turns into fall. Much of the produce now on the menu is more than just local -- it's home-grown on chef-owner Steve Allen's farm.
The Allen Farmhouse Heirloom Tomato Salad is a special treat, made with vibrant red and yellow tomato slices, tender lettuces, crisp bacon, grilled sweet onions and blue cheese crumbles dressed with sherry vinaigrette, for just $5.75. It will be available "until the tomatoes are gone," Allen said one morning this week, after harvesting 600 pounds of heirlooms.
Other distinctive dishes on the menu recently have included sautéed frogs' legs with brown butter vinaigrette, spinach, tomato, garlic and herbs and basmati rice ($19), and a standout grilled Atlantic salmon panzanella salad ($21.50). The fish -- topped with a garlic-parmesan crust -- was served hot with a cool romaine heart, crunchy toasted croutons, cucumbers, tomatoes, mozzarella and green goddess dressing.
Sunday night's menu also featured two tempting sandwiches that exemplify the menu's value-driven approach. The Mom's Fried Chicken "BLT" served with remoulade sauce, baked beans and french fries was $8. A baked meatloaf sandwich on grilled bread with smashed potatoes, mushrooms and cognac sauce was $8.50.
The dessert tray has never looked better. I loved pastry chef Jeff Evans' cool, creamy, fall-spiced butternut squash cheesecake ($6) prepared in a domed mold, crowned with whipped cream and fresh mint, and served atop finely shredded fresh green zucchini and coconut in a pool of sweet caramel sauce.
Yes, there are still sautéed perch and roast duckling entrées -- customers won't let those classics disappear, for good reason. But some of the dishes on this season's menu could give them a run for their money. (43150 Grand River; 248-374-0688 and www.steveandrockys.com)