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J.Baldwin's Restaurant & To-Go Family Food in Clinton Township

Kids love this fun place that offers DIY menu options including pizzas, sundaes and tasty dough ball treats. There's plenty here for parents, too.

Note: J.Baldwin's experienced a damaging fire on May 28, 2013. The owners hope to reopen by the end of summer 2013, according to news reports. Check the J.Baldwin's website for the latest.

A celebrated chef helms J.Baldwin's Restaurant & To-Go in Clinton Township, a dining hotspot known for knockout pizzas and spectacular seafood. But the truth is, kids run the show here.

Children in charge

How's that? Well, for starters, a "build-your-own" menu lets tykes stack up the sauces, pepperoni and cheese on their 'pie' however they please – pineapple, peppers and other toppings, too. Custom burgers also fit the bill.

J.Baldwin's Restaurant & To-Go

And rug rats love the dough balls: They shape it into whatever they want before dinner. Staff whisks it away, bakes it up and tops it with cinnamon and sugar for a one-of-a kid treat. Or, for the ultimate dessert, try the mobile sundae stations.

"We set it right in front of them," says Carmen Bryant, general manager. "It's like a marble platter that has a little spot for everything – strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, nuts, cherries" – all for kids to dress-up their ice cream scoops. "I've even had adults that want to do it!"

You're just as likely to find grownups doodling on the paper table clothes (crayons provided). "I have to say," says Bryant, "it brings the kid out of people."

Food to make parents swoon

That's been the vibe at this casual fine-dining spot since 2004. "Dads and moms can have filet mignon, chili or sea bass and a full bar," Bryant explains. "It's family-friendly in the sense that it's for every age."

Chef Jeff Baldwin's ever-changing cuisine keeps the crowds returning. His award-winning calamari still steals the show – along with fresh, inventive steaks, salads and sandwiches, like his signature crab cake melt.

Open and welcoming

There's an airy feel, too. Peek at the stone-fire pizza oven in action in the open kitchen. Or push tables together for your family. Like one big group did after The Nutcracker played at the nearby Macomb Center for the Performing Arts.

"The whole cast and crew and all the families came," laughs Bryant, herself a mom of two, ages 11 and 13. "I had over 100 people here after 11 o'clock."

Imagine what they'll do for your little posse. J.Baldwin's offers carryout, too, if you grab a snack on the way home – and catering for special events.

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