New executive chef brings much more to the menu.

By Danny Raskin, Senior Columnist

It originally opened back in 1974 as another restaurant that served a purpose for fast breakfasts and lunches.

Then restauranteur George Lukaj bought the little eatery about 10 years ago, changed the name from Village Place to Village Palace, added more breakfast and lunch items plus some dinners … and son Robert took over as operator/manager.

Now has come an addition that has vaulted Village Palace on Orchard Lake Road, near Pontiac Trail, Orchard Lake Village, into a new category … an executive chef whose track record is a huge step in the immediate making of a major dining establishment.

Executive Chef Victor Malaric has upgraded the menu to his ways, which include stops at the very fine Charlie Trotters in Chicago and Farmer’s Table in Boca Raton, Fla., where he served as executive chef … Among his huge culinary assets, Chef Victor also brings a full array of seafood presentations that include a lot of shellfish … Like his excellent crab cakes and, with one-day notice, bringing folks a lobster dinner they won’t easily forget, etc. … No advance request is needed for his whitefish as-is or creatively atop a mound of risotto, or ruby red trout as-is or over a potato mound and surrounded by braised onions and elegant black mushrooms, a Florida-styled fish soup so much different than the traditional, braised beef with pearl onions, etc.

Each day now include specials, too, that are served with house-made soup or salad … as is a super special of the day … slow-braised pot roast, house-made chili Colorado, etc.

Village Palace still has the wonderful omelets, salmon, spaghetti, stir-fry items, salads, Italian dishes, etc. … plus home-made meat loaf, spinach pie, etc. … and is open seven days from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. … Seating is for 115 with 10 seats at a counter, four tables for four each and the rest leather-covered booths … When weather permits, there is also seating on its outdoor patio … Further striking renovations will also be made this year.

Robert Lukaj and Executive Chef Victor Malaric

A dessert list of about 25 luscious yummies is unbelievable … with just about every selection a delicious tummy-patting eye-popper.

The Village Palace of today will certainly bring customers back … The addition of an executive chef with excellent culinary styles and no high price tags are certainly choice assets to enjoy.

NEW MANAGING partner with Rick Therrien, after the amicable departure of Linda Collins at Pickles & Rye Deli, Orchard Lake Road, West Bloomfield, is Greg Costigan, taking over with their dissolved partnership … “There is no one like Linda,” Rick says. “Linda treated our customers as though they were guests in her own home.”

BOTH WITH THE SAME LAST NAME … same former football greats at University Michigan … Steve Hutchinson finalist for Professional Football Hall of Fame … and Chris Hutchinson, partner at Pepino’s Restaurant, Sylvan Lake … No relation.

GOOD SERVER DEPT. … Nabill Elali, 50 years, and Philip Capraro, 25 years at Mario’s on Second, Detroit … Wai Yee U, since opening of Shangri-La 25 years ago, on 15 Mile and Orchard Lake Road … All still favorite servers of many.

TRIPLE NICKEL on Old Woodward, Birmingham, former site of Archibald’s, has Happy Hours all day on Mondays … Also, live music on Thursdays, 8-11 p.m.

NO SUCH THING AS one Italian restaurant being like another … Reason why so many Italian restaurants are not the same as others might be because some are Northern Italian and others Southern Italian, for example … A majority, though, could feature both … Recently opened 160 Main in Northville, for example, serves both but features mostly Southern.

OLDIE BUT GOODIE … He is out to dinner with his wife to celebrate her birthday … “So, what would you like, Geraldine? A sable coat? A Cadillac? A diamond necklace?”

“Morris, I want a divorce,” she says.

“I wasn’t planning on spending that much,” he says.

CONGRATS … To Suzie Radner on her birthday … To Ed and Suzie Radner on their 60th anniversary.

Danny’s email address is