Saba’s Dockside Bistro: Dining for landlubbers

by Jeff Glick

The Toledo Yacht Club on Summit Street in North Toledo is closer than it may seem. Our dinner group was concerned that the journey from our starting point in West Toledo could be lengthy, yet it turned out to be only a 10-15 minute ride to the stately building adorned with stained glass, scrolled woodwork and ionic columns outlining the formal dining room.

The restaurant, Saba’s Dockside Bistro,  is operated by longtime Toledo restaurateurs Tracy and Bruce Saba. Tracy, the daughter of Toledo restaurant legend Frank Unkle, and Bruce worked together at Frank Unkle’s on the Maumee River and then went on to operate the Charcoal House for many years. They also operate Bistro 1705 on Reynolds Road in the Holiday Inn.

The Toledo Yacht Club’s food and liquor service are operated separately. The Club holds the liquor license and runs the bar area downstairs while the food is managed, prepared and served by the Sabas and their staff on Thursdays,  Fridays and Saturdays. The dining room menu is also served in the bar downstairs but we preferred enjoying our meal in the stately dining room which was much quieter than the lively downstairs bar.

From the appetizer selections we ordered several mollusks, including Prince Edward Island mussels, served in a garlicky beurre blanc sauce, and escargot, roasted with a topping of melted cheese, along with spinach artichoke dip. The choices were appreciated by our table mates and were good for sharing. The atmosphere, almost elegant, became more so as the early evening sun turned past dusk to darkness. The restaurant opens onto a balcony patio which overlooks the Yacht Club pool. The balcony and the pool surround are available for outdoor seating / dining during warmer weather months.

The Sabas continue the supper club tradition of yore, as each meal selection includes a salad,  a vegetable and a starch. Salads begin deconstructed with a chunk of iceberg lettuce buttressed by shredded carrots, red onion and chopped tomatoes,  accompanied by assorted dressings. The dinner rolls were fresh and warm and carried a light dusting of salt.  Our party of six sampled the menu’s variety : the New York strip steak was beautifully marbled and cooked as requested; fish dishes including Lake Superior whitefish, served broiled or with cajun seasoning, Norwegian salmon nicely grilled and a shrimp and pasta dish.  One diner remarked that the vegetables accompanying his dish, while plentiful, were more thoroughly cooked than he preferred.  The menu also offers comfort foods like pork chops, beef bourguignon, baby back ribs and an assortment of sandwiches, including hot roast beef and a mushroom-onion-swiss burger. Nightly specials are also offered, which during our visit was a generous portion of Lake Erie perch.

Each entree is served on a plate garnished with a cling peach half on a bed of lettuce, harkening back to the glory days of Supper Club dining in the 60s and early 70s. Desserts are homemade by Tracy including the brownie for the grand sundae (oh, the real whipped cream!), creme brûlée and bread pudding. We sampled the sundae, enough for each table mate to take a taste, but missed out on the bread pudding (made fresh daily, but when it is gone, it is gone).

This beautiful venue, open to the public and accompanied by the Sabas time tested service and kitchen experience, is a spot to put on your list for this spring and summer. What a treat to look out over the water at the Maumee Bay. We will definitely be back when the boats are in at the Toledo Yacht Club docks and the weather warms up so that we can enjoy the outdoor accoutrements and another supper club meal.

Accessibility: Dining room is not wheelchair accessible due to a number of steps to dining room and restrooms.Bar is accessible.
Special Diets: Limited at best but large menu.Call before you go.
Cleanliness: Dining room is very clean.
Lighting:No problem.
Nose: Quiet
Kids:Welcome but no kids’ menu.
Parking: Plenty and free.

This beautiful venue, open to the public and accompanied by the Sabas time tested service and kitchen experience, is a spot to put on your list for this spring and summer. What a treat to look out over the water at the Maumee Bay. We will definitely be back when the boats are in at the Toledo Yacht Club docks and the weather warms up so that we can enjoy the outdoor accoutrements and another supper club meal.

5:30-9pm, Thurs., Fri., Sat.
At the Toledo Yacht Club
3900 Summit St.
419-318-9017 | sabasdockside.com

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