Jonesville, MI

Big City Vibe Minus Big City Price Makes Olivia's Chop House in Jonesville, Michigan a Destination for Fine Dining

Tracy Stengel courtesy of author.

I discovered Olivia’s Chop House in Jonesville, Michigan a couple years ago in pre-COVID times. A family member had given my husband and I a gift certificate.

“Where is Jonesville?” I asked. It sounded familiar, but I couldn’t place it.

“South of here,” my husband said with confidence, but seemed murky on the coordinates.

I Googled. Jonesville was 45 minutes away. According to the 2010 census, the village consists of 2,258 people and is less than 3 square miles. It seemed an unlikely location for a fine dining experience.

Always up to try something new, we headed south with to discover some place new. And were we happy we did! We had a great dinner, created another fabulous memory, and vowed to return soon. And then Covid hit Michigan and our opportunities and desire to dine out came to a screeching halt.

Now, over a year later, with the number of vaccines distributed ramping up and feeling stir-crazy after a long, lonesome winter, we felt safe to venture out. This past Friday, I reminded my husband of Olivia’s Chop House and we decided a short road trip and delicious meal would do us good.

I had forgotten how much we loved the jewel of small-town Jonesville. The restaurant has a big city, upbeat vibe with its industrial chic architecture in calming hues of blues and beiges. There are strategically placed pops of color, like the reds of the paintings on the walls and the colorful lights in the floor of a raised dining space. dining room of Olivia’s Chop House. Photo courtesy of author.

After a scenic drive, we started with the chef’s soup, which that night was lobster bisque. Paired with the house bread, it was a divine symphony of creamy goodness and satisfying flavors. My husband had the Manhattan strip steak, and I had the chardonnay walleye. Both were perfection. There were many different wines to choose from along with a full bar. I only wish we had room for dessert. Safely-distanced neighboring patrons were devouring the Colossal Chocolate Cake and Peanut Butter Pie with moans of decadent delight. Jealous, I announced next time we will be ordering dessert first.

Our server was friendly and efficient. Her style wedged firmly in the sweet spot between hovering over us and abandoning us. For that, we were appreciative. She was knowledgeable about the menu, offered suggestions, and answered our questions with ease and grace.

While the food, service, and atmosphere delighted me, I am also a bit of a history buff and a sucker for a success story. In 2001, Wayne Babcock opened the Chicago Water Grill, the name was a nod to the two streets it was located on — part of the historical Sauk Trail which is now US-12. In 2009, there was a fire, and the restaurant was destroyed. Wayne, rallied by the community, decided to rebuild another fine-dining restaurant — this time with a modern look. In 2011, Wayne opened Olivia’s Chop House, named after his daughter who was born during its construction. This sweet story could end here, but it gets even better. area of Olivia’s Chop House. Photo courtesy of author.

Jason Bugbee, who had worked for Wayne since the tender age of 16, bought Olivia’s Chop House from Wayne in 2018. He kept the name and is continuing its reputation for culinary excellence.

If you are in the mood for something extraordinary, you won’t be disappointed in Olivia’s Chop House located at 205 E. Chicago St., Jonesville, Michigan 49242. You can check out the menu by clicking here.

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Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI

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