A Step Above

By Tracey Moro / Photography by Mike Ferdinande

If you’ve lived in Macomb County for a good amount of time, chances are you’ve seen or heard of Chef Bobby Nahra. He’s been featured on FOX 2 News multiple times along with a long list of other media – including Macomb Now Magazine a few years back. Folks love him, his food and his recipes. And now people are enjoying his latest venture – Hook Restaurant in St. Clair Shores.

Nestled up to Lake St. Clair, surrounded by three of the busiest marinas, Hook Restaurant is the latest addition to the Nautical Mile and a welcome one. Setting itself apart, the restaurant, which is open year-round, has an elevated experience from the typical tiki bar food and atmosphere. It’s more refined, with tablecloths, dry-aged prime Creekstone Farms steaks, lobsters, sushi and an extensive list behind the bar that we will get to later.

“My partner, Tom (Lauzon) and I wanted to fill the demand for better food on the water. We still get the boat crowd, but we are also seeing folks from outside our county driving over, even throughout the winter months. We’ve had people drive from Novi, Milford, Ann Arbor, Keego Harbor and parts of Oakland County,” said Nahra.

Not only do the people come from all over but the food comes from all over the planet. “The sushi is ridiculous,” adds Nahra. “We buy seafood from Spain, Greece, Japan, Australia, Alaska, not to mention Michigan, with our perch, walleye and whitefish from Lake Superior.”

Nahra and Lauzon extensively remodeled the old Brownies on the Lake, taking out the famous boat and replacing it with a state-of-the-art kitchen that is open to guests. “I like that we have the Chef’s Table so my team and I can interact with customers. We may even create a special appetizer just for you,” said Nahra. He recommends reservations but did assure us that they will seat folks who just walk in.

Just beyond the kitchen and centered in the middle of the dining area is the spectacular bar with seating on all four sides. There you’ll find 12 taps with beers and even Prosecco, plus premium liquors including Detroit Distillery options and of course – wine. “We have 162 wines on our wine list. Plus you can get a wine locker giving you access to our VIP wine tastings and a 20 percent discount on all our wines, including Hook’s own red blend created in Mendocino County in northern California.”

The dining area surrounds the bar overlooking the water with a fantastic view of the boat traffic going in and out to Lake St. Clair. There’s also a cozy dining area with booths and a full dance area with a disco ball and illuminated floor. Did we mention Thursdays are ladies night? Outside, the patio opens in spring once the weather is right and has live entertainment five nights a week. Plus the dock can find a slew of boats alongside for boaters wishing to dine.

The Hook menu changes frequently depending on the quality and availability of fresh meats and seafood. Prices are reasonable with multiple levels to choose from. Appetizers can be $10 for Brussel sprouts or $180 for a Hook Seafood Tower which includes oysters, shrimp cocktail, king crab legs, and poke bowl. For entrees, find a variety including the Hook burger, fish n chips, chicken Milanese, and steaks like a fi let, ribeye, or lamb chops. Seafood includes what’s available and we saw entrees like jumbo scallops, Ora king salmon, Maine lobster, Alaskan king crab legs and a whole section devoted to sushi. We didn’t even mention the desserts!

Chef Bobby’s right hand man – his executive chef Mike Tikkanen – is just one of a huge culinary team found in the kitchen at Hook and at Chef Bobby’s other kitchens, including Blossom Heath Inn, Encore Banquet Center and Freedom Hill Banquet & Event Center. “I started shortly after it (Hook) opened. Anything the chef needs, I’m always there. The two of us have a blast working together and at events. It’s not work – if you love it,” said Tikkanen.

On one night the team could have multiple events going, plus a full house at Hook, especially during the summer when the outdoor patio is open and live entertainment is going. When asked how he can be at all those places at once – Nahra answered – “as long as it goes easy it’s not work for me. We cross-pollinate the team to different places as needed. The chefs like the moving, it changes things up for them.”

With this type of a busy schedule we were excited that Chef Bobby could take the time to share some recipes for us. The omelette is near and dear to him. “During lent my Lebanese Grandma made this every Wednesday and Friday,” said Nahra. “The hardest part is flipping it. You can also keep it flat in the oven, then roll it onto your plate.”

He also shared one of Hook’s menu favorites, which according to Chef Mike – is one of his personal favorites as well. “Lentil is the best thing for diabetics to eat so it’s a healthy meal and gluten-free as well as great vegan choice,” said Tikkanen.

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