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Simple Food, Done Delicious

Steve & Rocky’s goodness starts on Steve’s farm.

Chef Steve Allen, co-owner of Steve & Rocky’s in Novi, also answers to the name “Farmer Steve.” The city boy born and raised in Detroit owns around nine acres in the Hartland area, where his pleasure is raising, butchering and selling a variety of free-range poultry and livestock — including 350 freshly dressed turkeys for his customers’ Thanksgiving dinner this year.

Fresh produce from his gardens shows up on summer menus at the Novi restaurant and also at Rocky’s of Northville, owned by Allen’s business partner, chef Chuck (Rocky) Rachwitz. Allen also sells his vegetables, including heirloom tomatoes, to chefs at other places, including West Bloomfield Henry Ford Hospital and Livonia’s Schoolcraft College, where he is a culinary instructor.

Explaining his purpose, Allen has said, “If you grow a good product, it’s reflected in the product you’re cooking.”

Restaurant general manager Duane T. Brady said, “Our niche is: We do simple food, done well. We offer quality service and keep prices reasonable, without breaking the bank.”

That ideal combination has kept Steve & Rocky’s a Novi mainstay since opening its doors in 1998. The colorful dining room is funky and eclectic. There is a fish tank and an extensive display of decorative roosters.

When it comes to popular dining items, Brady said, “The filet is always our No. 1 seller among meat.” But many diners prefer the menu’s fresh fish preparations. My lunch companions couldn’t get enough of the Lake Perch Saute. It comes with wilted greens, basmati rice, almonds and shitake mushrooms in a brown butter vinaigrette. Brady said Steve & Rocky’s sells 100 pounds of perch every week, so you can’t go wrong with this choice.

At lunch, I first tried the signature Chef Milos Mushroom Soup — named for Certified Master Chef Milos Cihelka of the late, great Golden Mushroom restaurant in Southfield. Allen trained under him. The broth had plenty of mushrooms and a creamy, rich texture but was a tad salty for my taste. I had no issues with the lightly smoked and poached salmon with artichokes and capers in vermouth. Another entree I personally recommend is Chicken Scaloppini Saute Oscar with its crab and shrimp cake, Bearnaise sauce and sauteed potatoes.

Ever-changing main courses, tapas and soups are the rule here, although seasonal favorites, such as butternut squash soup, will be listed daily until spring. The Lunch Box is a varying, complete meal with protein, salad, starch or vegetable, and dessert, brought to the table in a compartmentalized, Japanese-style bento box. The price fluctuates: A special featuring meatloaf would be $9.25 while it’s $12.25 with grilled yellow fin tuna.

Save some room because five tempting, house-made treats will be showing up on the dessert tray. The pastry chef changes the selections of pies, cakes, cheesecakes, etc., almost weekly. Hope that he’s made the delightful Chocolate Raspberry Mousse.

Dining room manager Veronica Fedorko is part of Steve & Rocky’s winning team. Another is pianist Mike Magner, who provides easy-listening music Tuesday through Saturday. On New Year’s Eve, guests will hear him as part of a trio.



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