A Destination Locale by Roadster or Speedboat
The views amaze in Commerce at It’s a Matter of Taste.
Ringed by cottages — some palatial, some smaller — sparkling Union Lake casts a dazzling spell on diners at the waterside bistro, It’s a Matter of Taste.
This is summertime at its best, you’ll say, while relaxing on the wrap-around, open-air deck or seated within the Mediterranean-styled dining room. Any vantage point is great for watching boats and water-skiers on the glimmering water.
It started out as a small carryout/catering business on nearby Commerce Road. In 2003, the local haunt catapulted itself into the fine dining realm when it moved into a new, but timeless-appearing, two-story villa.
It’s a Matter of Taste has a casual atmosphere with a dock for boaters. It’s also a destination for fine dining, which employs the talent and creativity of head chef Mark Greer along with executive head chef and co-owner Tom Traynor.
Their food is made from scratch with fresh ingredients; sauces can take two to three days to perfect. The restaurant shuts down after lunch for two hours to set up for the dinner menu. Daily specials are offered, whether for appetizers, entrees or other specialty categories.
Three of the house specialties include: pan-roasted grouper served over buttermilk-whipped potatoes, seasonal vegetable in a vermouth, capers, artichoke hearts and spinach concasse sauce; crisped walleye served on jasmine rice with steamed mussels, Thai vegetables, cilantro and a spicy red curry and coconut milk broth; and Missy Pasta, which I tried and would order again.
The pasta dish is composed of medium-large shells, grilled chicken, asparagus tips, fire-roasted peppers and fresh basil in an Asiago broth. My dining companion and I were able to split this dish at no additional charge, which is not always possible at many restaurants. (I suggest demurring from the freshly grated cheese you’ll be offered — it made the sauce a little too salty.)
We also tasted two of the three soups on that day’s menu: We both enjoyed the jalapeno-carrot bisque, which was rich, slightly smoky and not too spicy for us. My companion loved the day’s cold soup: honeydew-coconut finished with pineapple chutney. This taste had to grow on me, but I became a fan.
Another dish I liked was the raspberry chicken salad: Poached chicken breast, roasted pecans, tart raspberries, celery and Clementine oranges tossed in raspberry vinaigrette and served over mixed greens. Pre-cut chunks of fresh pineapple on the rind accompany the salad, which is also available by the pound in the restaurant’s carryout shop.
Tom Traynor is executive head chef and co-owner with his wife, Missy (of pasta fame). The couple’s good taste extends beyond the kitchen as Missy selected the decor and, with her sister Amy, applied faux-painting techniques to the walls, floors and pillars. The golden walls appear aged with exposed brown brick patches. Painted wooden tables have a crackled look.
Tom was the builder; take a moment to appreciate the handsome woodwork he put around the bar and fireplace.
Swing by the carryout shop (open 10 a.m.-8 p.m.) and check out the refrigerated cases of gourmet entrees, side dishes, salads and delectable desserts. (The carrot cake and the key lime tart are standouts.) Ceiling-high shelves display merchandise and food items of equal quality: wine, lotions, paper napkins, serving and picnic items, jams and mustards.
It’s a Matter of Taste is a full-service caterer. Up to 250 guests can be accommodated for onsite parties. The upstairs banquet rooms also have an outside deck to let you feel the breeze off that shimmering lake.
It’s a Matter of Taste
2323 Union Lake Road
Commerce Township 48382
$$ ($22-$29) out of $$$$