Dining in casual elegance

Above: Sizeable scallops surrounding the lobster ravioli in a generous pool of sauce, topped with chives and parmesan cheese.Carlyle Grill
3660 Jackson Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Hours: Sun – Thurs 11:00am – 10:00pm
Fri – Sat 11:00am – 11:00pm

My husband and I disagreed. I thought the outside of Carlyle Grill resembled certain chain restaurants; he thought it looked more elegant. When we walked inside and saw the rich wood walls and tables, dark green booths, and stone accents, I realized he was right. Darn.

It appeared so upscale that my husband whispered, “Are we dressed okay?” I glanced at our family. We were clean and not wearing any swimsuit pieces, so I figured we
were good. I noticed other couples and families in casual attire, too.

We settled in a booth and the kids started playing with Etch-A-Sketch toys provided by the restaurant. I searched for a kids’ menu, but could not find one. Was this due to the dim lighting? Actually, the kids’ menu is not printed, but recited by your server at Carlyle Grill.

“I’ll have crabs if they have crabs,” stated my 6- year-old son. My husband and I chuckled. Crabs are not usually a kids’ meal choice! However, there was a seafood smell in the air, so maybe that sparked his request.

“Chicken Fingers, Grilled Cheese, Cheese or Pepperoni Pizza, and Linguine” said our server as he recited the kids’ menu. No crabs, so my son ordered cheese pizza while my daughter, 3, chose chicken.

My husband and I lingered over the menu with its contemporary American cuisine including pizzas, salads, steaks, seafood, burgers, sandwiches, and house specialties. The meatloaf or pecan crusted chicken sounded tempting, but I settled on the half-rack of baby back ribs with fries and coleslaw. My husband selected the Lobster Ravioli with seared scallops in cream sauce, plus a side salad. 

Warm bread rolls with whipped butter helped us pass the time before our entrees came. Eventually my preschooler draped herself across my lap
and whined, “It’s taking a long time. For me. To wait.” We may have waited 5 to 10 minutes longer than at your average family restaurant. I guess sometimes that feels like an eternity when you are 3.

When my daughter’s chicken arrived, it looked freshly made rather than unfrozen and fried. I snuck a tasty, light bite. My son’s pizza bubbled with cheese and a chunky tomato sauce. Half way through his second piece, though, he stopped cold.

“There’s a vegetable!”

A smidgen of something green appeared in the sauce. Our assurances led nowhere and he only nibbled a couple more bites of pizza before eating most of his sister’s chicken fingers.

My ribs were good, with flavorful hickory sauce, although the sauce was more blackened than I like. The portion was sizeable, the fries light and crispy,
and my coleslaw pleasing with a tanginess contributed by blue cheese.

My husband’s meal was artful, with sizeable scallops surrounding the lobster ravioli in a generous pool of sauce topped with chives and Parmesan cheese shavings. He found the sauce thick and creamy and the scallops perfectly seared. After finishing the last bite, he declared he would return to Carlyle Grill in the future based on how much he enjoyed his meal.

We all shared dessert (I know, even though the kids did not eat all their dinner!) We split refreshing wild berry sorbet and a chocolate chip brownie sundae with vanilla ice cream, pecans, and chocolate sauce. Yummy.

Open since 2006, Carlyle Grill exudes casual elegance. Located directly in front of the Quality 16 movie theater on Jackson Road, the restaurant offers discounts in conjunction with the theater should you dine before or after catching a show.

To avoid wait They are busiest during dinner on Friday and Saturday nights
Noise level Moderate
Bathroom amenities Clean; changing table in men’s and women’s
High chairs Yes
Got milk Yes
Kids’ menu It’s not printed, but your server will recite the Kids’ menu
Anything healthy for kids Try a fresh fruit plate
Food allergy concerns Our server said they can accommodate any concern, such as peanuts or gluten. Just notify your server who will communicate your needs to the kitchen.

Katy M. Clark is a freelance writer who lives in Saline. Contact her c/oeditor@annarborfamily.com