or in their boats, drinks in hand, less than an hour after leaving work on Friday evening. At those moments, the collective sigh of bliss must be audible all the way back to Ann Arbor.
As much as grilling and barbecuing are a part of lake culture, one doesn't always want to have to cook. And it's fun to join the neighbors--first- or second-home ones--on an evening out. For decades, the Zukey Lake Tavern has been a raucous, bustling possibility, but if one's looking for a quieter, more intimate venue, La Vita Bistro in downtown Pinckney, directly off Main Street, might be a better choice. Opened in January 2011 by Joe and Judi deKroub and run by their son Tony, the restaurant features pizza and Italian specialties. A neighborhood place with some of the trappings--and prices--of fine dining, it sometimes left me expecting more than I got. But during my summer visits, happy regulars jostled at the front stand for a seat inside or at one of the sidewalk tables.
Perhaps I should have said "small" rather than "intimate." Alice-in-Wonderland booths big enough to swallow six to eight adults overwhelm the diminutive dining room, intruding into the front window space and crowding the adjacent tables. Squeezed into the far end of the room sits an alcove bar stuffed with stools and counters. Furnishings are a hybrid mix of diner and fine dining fixtures--vinyl and Formica graced with lovely glassware and stylish white dishes. The waitstaff follows a similar pattern--knowledgeable and efficient, but often overly folksy and nonchalant.