Notable eateries in Birmingham, Troy and the Bloomfields
Published: January 25, 2012
Andiamo Bloomfield Township 6676 Telegraph Rd., Bloomfield Twp.; 248-865-9300: The sunflower-yellow-and-purple color scheme and huge tilted mirrors that allow patrons to glimpse those sitting behind them have given the space a slickly contemporary look. The food is in contrast: it's the solid Italian fare of old master Aldo Ottaviani interpreted by a crew of young chefs in the open kitchen. Lively bar action is in an adjoining room.
Baja Fresh Mexican Grill 1357 Coolidge Highway, Troy; 248-822-9000: You can tell from Baja Fresh's motto, "No microwave! No can openers! No freezers! No lard! No MSG!" that this chain of Tex-Mex fast food is a king among men, so to speak. You can eat food that is fast, inexpensive and tasty, and not overwhelmed by a dunk in the deep fryer. For ambience, think highway rest stop: bright lights, menu on the wall, line up to order, self-serve drink bar, plastic tableware, etc. But don't let the decor fool you, the food is much more interesting, and more healthful than traditional fast-food fare.
Big Beaver Tavern 645 E. Big Beaver, Troy; 248-680-0066: Once part of the triumvirate of the area's classic, old-line Italian-American restaurants (Mario's, Lelli's, Larco's), with roots going back a half century to Detroit's Six Mile Road, Larco's has now become Big Beaver Tavern, with the management going for a sports tavern format, with burgers, fries, wide-screen televisions and poker and blackjack tables in the basement. The customers seem to enjoy the video games, bartop games and DJs, and the food quality remains high. They're selling hundreds of the burgers a week, but they still serve the same 8-ounce filet mignon that they served as Larco's for the last 19 years.
Big Rock Chophouse 245 S. Eton St., Birmingham; 248-647-7774: Big Rock Chophouse oozes northern lodge appeal and there are a variety of rooms in which to dine, including an outdoor patio. The lively atmosphere is complemented by chef Brian Henson's skillfully crafted menus. In addition to the restaurant is a 2,000-square-foot brew house with custom-designed, state-of-the-art equipment and quality, award-winning brews. Tours of the brew house available by request.
Brooklyn Pizza 111 Henrietta, Birmingham; 248-258-6690: Brooklyn is considered the home of the North American pizza, and the owners of Brooklyn Pizza describe their pies as New York-style pizza cooked in a brick oven, fueled by coal or wood. This method creates a thin, crisp crust that snaps and shatters when you take a bite. This is one place where you can still watch the pizza chefs flip a disk of dough in the air. Pizza is available by the slice or pie. Ice cream, gelato and Italian ices are made on the premises.
Camp Ticonderoga 5725 Rochester Rd., Troy; 248-828-2825: With its gnarled wood and exposed beams, this camp is going for a hybrid hunting lodge-sports bar look. The Wild Thang Special embraces venison sausage, buffalo balls, rabbit ravioli; there's sometimes even alligator — and it doesn't taste like chicken.
Crust Pizza & Wine Bar 6622 Telegraph Rd., Bloomfield Plaza, Bloomfield Township; 248-855-5855: The concept of pizza-plus-wine now seems obvious, brought to life so expertly by the owners of Crust. First, the pizza here isn't just "fallback food" — the flavors are a revelation, with crusty "Naples classics" cooked in a 900-degree oven in as little as 90 seconds. The wines chosen to go with the pies are also excellent, categorized with such helpful descriptions as "refreshing fruit, crisp," "rich, buttery" and "blended earth and spice."
Forest Grill 735 Forest Ave., Birmingham; 248-258-9400: Brian Polcyn's stylish bistro, situated on the unlikely east side of Woodward Avenue, is on the ground floor of a new multi-use, especially "green," three-story building created by prize-winning architect Victor Saroki. The handsome, long, narrow room, with huge windows and a bustling open kitchen, seats only 65 at its white-clothed tables and lively bar. Starters include a hearty bowl of French onion soup, thick with onions and melted cheese, and the charcuterie du jour platter, with exquisite smoked meats, sturdy house-made mustard, and three choice mini-salads. The mains, most of which hover in the 20s, are anchored by an admirable steak-frites platter, with a thick strip rather than hanger or flat-iron steak, plus abundant skinny, crunchy fries. A mecca for oenophiles, almost all of the wines are not only available by the 5-ounce glass but also by the 3-ounce taste, which permits a good deal of experimentation, even for those doing the driving.
Franco's 3614 Rochester Rd., Troy; 248-528-0153: This neighborhood restaurant has been quietly turning out respectable meals for a generation or so from a prosaic strip mall on Rochester Road. In a simply decorated, dimly lit room that seats 125, you can enjoy heavy red-sauced dishes with the pastas averaging around $15 and the other entrées around $18 including soup and salad. Franco's hearty pastas include such familiar preparations as ravioli, spaghetti carbonara, fettucine Alfredo and linguini with clam sauce. Among the pesce, the crisp and tender sautéed shrimp scampi over rice is a well-executed dish. You can wash all of this down with reasonably priced wines.
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