The overworked businessman, in a crisp shirt complementing tie and perfectly cut slacks, sits slumped over, his rainbow-wig-clad head on the bar. Nearby is a scuba diver, ready for the depths — if he only had a head.
Though Grand River’s Pickle Bill’s restaurant burned down a decade ago, the 8-year-old rebirth looks sufficiently rickety to support the garage-sale-chic motif. Don’t think Applebee’s or Friday’s. Please. Mannequins wouldn’t be caught dead dining there. This place takes as much pride in the kitsch (where did they find a 6-foot-tall fish to greet you at the door?) as it does fresh food.
My meal starts off with the restaurant’s trademark fried dough. It tastes better warm, so slather on the cinnamon honey butter. Seafood is the specialty, evidenced by the lobster cages and fishing nets hanging from the ceiling and the views of the charter fishing boats on the nearby dock in the Grand River.
The clipper-caught swordfish is grilled over an open flame with a red pepper butter that adds a kick to the moist, hearty meal. Get there during the generous early-bird dinner hours (Tue-Fri 4 - 6 p.m, Sat 3 - 5 p.m., Sun 1 - 4 p.m.) and the meal is half price: $11.50. Meat-and-potatoes types will enjoy the Whiskey Island chicken ($15.95, or $8 during the early-bird special). The sweet barbecue sauce plays with the taste of the salty bacon and melted jack and cheddar cheeses.
If you like the sun, sit outside at the bar on the dock. If you just want the breeze, there’s an enclosure that shields the sun but lets in all the good parts of outside. Wash your meal down with the cherry martini ($7.95) — it’s light enough to drink during dinner.101 River St., Grand River, (440) 352-6343, Tue-Thu 11:30 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri 11:30 a.m. - 11 p.m., Sat noon -10:30 p.m., Sun 1 - 9 p.m.; picklebills.com