Adventurous Dishes in the D

By: Toni Cunningham | February 22, 2019
Ethiopian Feast

Photo courtesy of Blue Nile

Detroit and its surrounding suburbs have grown up a lot in terms of the food that is available. Typical midwestern meals are falling by the wayside in order to make room for exciting spices, unknown cooking techniques and international ingredients. So, why hold on to these antiquated dining rules that we all grew up with. Fight the power! Be free! Try new things!

Blue Nile – Ethiopian Feast and Honey Wine
Most of us were taught that it is rude to eat with your fingers and on top of that, we were punished for eating off of other people’s plates. Put all of those arbitrary dining rules behind you as you head into Blue Nile restaurant for a traditional and filling Ethiopian meal.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the meal is ordered for the entire table. Ethiopian culture asks that you eat communally, and Blue Nile ensures that tradition stays at the forefront of their restaurant. The base of the delicious Ethiopian Feast is injera; a lightweight, spongy, sourdough flatbread that you use in lieu of forks and knives. Arranged neatly on top of the injera is an all you can eat presentation of humble yet delicious dishes.

For all the meat eaters, you have your choice of chicken, beef or lamb. All proteins are prepared with the Ethiopian staple, niter kibbe; an herbed clarified butter enhanced with aromatic seasonings such as fenugreek, cumin, turmeric, cardamom and more.

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For those who prefer a more vegetal meal, you are in luck. The vegetarian offering at Blue Nile is twice that of its meat options. Simple dishes such as Atakilt Wat (potatoes, carrots and green beans cooked with onions, garlic, jalapenos and spices) are in heavy rotation for those who just want to dip a toe into international cuisine. However, I suggest going for the Yemisir Kik Wat, a spicy puree of split red lentils that have been cooked in berbere sauce.

Be prepared for a well-seasoned, softly textured meal that is simple, flavorful and easy to digest.  And don’t forget to have a glass of their honey wine.

The Jamaican Pot – Oxtail and local drinks
Not a place to sit and dine, the Jamaican Pot has all of the flavor and none of the pomp and circumstance of a more refined eatery. When you order your take-out at the counter, you are guaranteed a well-prepared meal with balanced flavors that offer a little something extra. No one in this kitchen is afraid of seasoning.

A dish of Oxtail with Rice

Photo courtesy of The Jamaican Pot

You won’t go wrong with any dish that you order, however oxtail is a well-known and loved dish in many cultures, including the Caribbean. The Jamaican Pot offers their oxtail stew either on its own, or seasoned jerk style (made by using seasonings such as allspice and scotch bonnet peppers). On a dreary day, oxtail stew is the warm, comforting pick-me-up that can turn your day around if prepared well. For those of you not quite convinced that tail is the cut of meat you want, close your eyes and think of it as a rich and silky pot roast. I promise, it’s worth it.

Be sure to pick up one of their locally made natural drinks with flavors like sorrel, ginger & honey or ginger & passion in case you need a break from the spices. They provide the perfect reprieve to get you to your next bite.

Antihero –Kitchen Sink Fried Rice and Sake
Downtown Ferndale has a ton of food and bar options, however the one thing they did not have until late last year was a neighborhood Izakaya, or in layman’s terms a Japanese pub.

Kitchen Sink Fried Rice from Antihero

Photo credit Michelle & Chris Gerard + Jenna Belevender

Enter Antihero, a trendy establishment with some legitimate Asian comfort food. Don’t let the gorgeous artwork or the sleek wooden tables and booths intimidate you. At the heart of this restaurant are delicious, approachable dishes. Take, for example, the Kitchen Sink Fried Rice, my personal favorite.

Start with pork belly and spam, and we are already in deep. Add cheese and a runny egg and you might think that there is too much richness to the dish, but you haven’t yet hit the acid from the kimchi or the bursts of freshness from the edamame.  At the end of the bowl, you realize that you have had super balanced and filling dish that is sure to keep you warm and happy while you finish sampling the long list of sake or craft cocktails that Antihero offers.

Guess you’ll have to come back again to try a few other dishes.