A shortlist of great salads in metro Detroit
Published: May 30, 2012
$=$5-$10; $$=$10-$25; $$$=$25-$50; $$$$=$50+
Al-Ameer 12710 W. Warren Ave., Dearborn, 313-582-8185; 27346 Ford Rd., Dearborn Heights; 313-565-9600; alameerrestaurant.com: This Lebanese fare isn't Americanized factory food. Instead, Al-Ameer stays true to the Lebanese table, offering fresh bread, serving no pork or liquor, and preparing food that's made to order, and not overwhelmed by spices and herbs. The menu can please vegetarians gaga for the "veggie ghalaba" or meat-eaters hungering for the boneless chicken breast that's char-broiled, sliced and finished in a lemon garlic sauce. Al-Ameer has more than a dozen salads, from the $2.95 cucumber-yogurt creation to the larger shawarma or spinach fattoushes ($12.95). Add feta or Syrian cheese for $1.75 more.
Aladdin Sweets & Café 11945 Conant St., Hamtramck; 313-891-8050; aladdinsweet.com: This is a small, neighborhood place where you'll eat on plastic plates and drink from polystyrene cups. But what Aladdin lacks in china and stainless steel it more than makes up for in flavor and authenticity. Even the menu's simplest choices, such as chick peas and spinach, show how humble ingredients come to life when expertly spiced. Even cheaper are the salads, which cost between $2.50 and $3.50, and other dishes, such as the excellent chicken tikka, come served upon a fresh salad. This small, lively spot is often lively on the weekends, in a kid-friendly sort of way. No alcohol.
Anita's Kitchen 22651 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; 248-548-0680; anitaskitchenonline.com: The food is what really shines at Anita's, but the covered patio is a real treat in the summer, while you nosh on the salads and veggie-intensive appetizers that fill a good portion of the menu. As with most Mediterranean cuisines, Lebanese is considered to be a very balanced, healthy diet. If meat is your thing, you can easily fill up with kebabs or one of a few fish dishes. The ideal sampler is Anita's "mixed mezza" — a plate of hummus, tabbouleh, fattoush and crunchy pickled vegetables with a touch of heat and a few other plates. There are even a few unique pita pizzas. For a fine finish to a meal, order a pot of Turkish coffee and a tender, not-too-sweet piece of baklava.
Bucharest Grill inside the Park Bar, 2040 Park Ave. (enter off Elizabeth), Detroit; 313-965-3111: Who knew so many people wandering the neighborhood west of Foxtown had a hankering for Eastern European food? How else to explain the success of Bucharest Grill, a small counter setup in back of the Park Bar. For just a fistful of singles you can have affordable shawarma sandwiches and creative hot dogs. For the health-conscious, Bulgarian goat cheese replaces chicken on the veggie version of the shawarma — though some object to the use of mayo. Salads include a protein-packed pork-meatball salad, a house salad (cucumbers, tomato, onions and green pepper), and a chicken shawarma salad — with chicken, lettuce, tomato, pita chips, onions, cukes and peppers. Warning: Take your meal out to a seat in the Park and the bottles and taps of their formidable bar are sure to call your name.
Christine's Cuisine 729 E. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; 248-584-3354: Christine's has a variety of pleasing salads, usually based on a foundation of lettuce and mixed greens, with a variety of fresh, house-made dressings. The Mediterranean salad has chopped tomatoes, cukes, red onion and house-baked pita chips (!). Add feta and it becomes the Athena salad, which a friend swears by with chicken added. The Southwestern-inspired black-bean salad mixes tomatoes, chopped onions, tortilla strips, sour cream and cilantro, with a salsa vinaigrette. Or go for the hearty chef's salad, with smoked Bavarian ham, smoked turkey, Swiss and American cheese, tomatoes, red onion and hard-boiled eggs. If you feel you need more protein, you can add (for a price) steak, chicken or shrimp to all salads, including the humbler Caesar.
Crust Pizza & Wine Bar 2595 Rochester Rd., Rochester Hills; 248-844-8899; crustpizza.net: In addition to Crust's deft combinations of pizza and wine, they have a few salads to swear by, including fresh mozzarella salad, arugula salad, chopped chicken salad and, best of all, the Sonoma salad: grape tomatoes, dried apricots, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and toasted almonds over organic mesclun greens, enlivened with a green tea-pomegranate vinaigrette and fortified with a sturdy piece of freshly baked focaccia bread.
The Golden Fleece 525 Monroe St., Detroit; 313-962-7093: The octopus Greek salad ($11.95) is one of the reasons dining can be such a value: They put all the hard work into making it, and all you have to do is sit down and dig in. And the octopus salad takes hours to make. The octopus is boiled for four or five hours before the skin is removed. Then the meat is cut into small pieces and goes into a simple marinade of vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano, and soaks overnight, for at least six or seven hours. They serve it cold, setting the octopus in a simple Greek salad that's light on the feta.
Grand Trunk Pub 612 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-961-3043; grandtrunkpub.com: Perhaps you thought this stubborn fixture in downtown Detroit was just a smoky little watering hole. You'd be pleasantly surprised by their menu, which ranges over soups, sandwiches and, of course, salads. The offerings include classic Caesar ($6.75, $8.75 with chicken) and the hearty Southwest chicken (with cubed chicken tossed with black beans, corn, roasted red peppers and a special blend of spices, served on a bed of romaine and spinach with avocado and red onion, $8).
Green Dot Stables 2200 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit; 313-962-5588; greendotstables.com: Green Dot Stables recently reopened after a yearlong closure and change of ownership, with a bang-up menu of $2 and $3 gourmet sliders, soups and — yes — salads. Amid all the meat and drink, some of their greens might help you feel more virtuous, including a lemony raw kale salad with quinoa and a petite wedge with house-made Thousand Island, bacon, tomato and shallot. When we went, the wedge was a special, but we're rooting for it to be added to the regular menu. Perhaps our favorite salad was the thickly sliced cucumbers with a massive dollop of crème fraîche and chopped shallots. After working our way through the cucumbers, we made use of the extra crème fraîche to dip our fries. (So much for our virtue!)
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