If you range hungrily down Washtenaw east of US-23, watch for the small blue sign of the howling wolf just past Golfside. Turn in and you will enter a small, minimally designed, eight-table dining room with a kind of goofy-folky rural scene mural up high over the kitchen and spreading over most of one wall. But there’s nothing goofy about the lovely slow-food plates from the tiny open kitchen at Blue Wolf Grill.

House-smoked whitefish, lightly moistened with mayo and dotted with green herbs, is nothing short of Michigan bliss when stuffed generously in a toasted rye panini–and a good value at $10. Spring for the upgrade from chips to wondrously crispy skin-on fries ($1) and ask for a little cup of Blue Wolf dressing for dipping. It adds a spicy kick.

A house-made mushroom barley soup of the day had lots of different mushrooms, light if salty chicken broth, and a pleasing fresh flavor. The resourceful “Alpha Wolf” chili comes chunked with various meats, and the spinach-feta salad with toasted almonds and strawberries couldn’t have been tastier. And there’s much more on the menu, from unusual pasta combos to meaty entrees to homemade desserts–details are at bluewolfgrill.com. There you can also read the story about how a group of local restaurant pros quietly launched this impressive enterprise in late December. They appear to be well down the sleeper path to a winner, for both lunch and dinner.