Sophisticated Food & Drink: Gastropubs of Metro Detroit

By: Toni Cunningham | October 10, 2014

Detroit is a wonderful city packed with huge variety when it comes to all things, including food. You can find pretty much any type of cuisine you seek within the city limits and surrounding metro area. Ethnic fare, Coney dogs, bistros, gastropubs, you name it.

Wait, what’s a gastropub? Some of you may be unfamiliar with the term, which Merriam-Webster defines as “a pub, bar or tavern that offers meals of high quality.” The term originated in jolly ol’ England in the late 20th century. Essentially, gastropubs are some of the greatest places to dine and drink in the city! They’re also increasingly popular establishments, which means there are plenty of gastropubs to choose from in Metro Detroit. Here are some to consider this weekend:

The Bar, 224 S. Main St., Milford, has a lunch and dinner menu packed with bar plates, classics, sandwiches and burgers. Start the meal off with One Fish, Two Fish Tacos (beer battered tilapia with pico de gallo and avocado cream) or Bar Frites (fresh potatoes served with honey chipotle mayo).

When it comes to the main course, the Haystack Burger (with Swiss, crispy onions and bistro sauce), Apple Tarragon Turkey Sandwich (with tarragon slaw, Muenster cheese and apple butter on grilled pumpernickel) and Steak & Frites (skirt steak topped with a fried egg, served with hand cut fries and chipotle mayo) are all great choices.

There are nearly a dozen Michigan-made beers available at The Bar, including New Holland Ichabod and Bell’s Two Hearted Ale. The wine list also has plenty of variety when it comes to reds, whites and rosés.

Wright & Co., 1500 Woodward Ave., Detroit, is located in a beautifully historic building. The menu is brief, but the snacks and plates provided are so enticing that it doesn’t matter. To begin, order some Roasted Cashews with Moroccan spicy dust, Sriracha Chicken Skewers or Crisp Gulf Shrimp to share with the rest of the table.

When it comes to dinner plates, Sautéed Sea Scallops (served with sweet corn, asparagus and chive beurre blanc), Roasted Pork (accompanied with goat cheese puree, pickled apricots and Dijon) and Heirloom Tomatoes Salad (with fresh mozzarella, micro basil and tomato coulis) will surely be a hit.

Be sure to enjoy any and all of the aforementioned dishes with a classic or craft cocktail. Keep in mind that the restaurant does not take reservations, so be prepared for a wait, if applicable.

Republica, 1999 Coolidge Hwy., Berkley, opened last year and is a gastropub that focuses on Michigan craft beer and fresh food, including gluten free and vegetarian options. The menu is full of small plates, soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers and entrees.

The Green House Pie (with Swiss chard, braised leeks, fennel and feta cheese in a pastry puff) and Lobster Grits (topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano) can be shared as small plates or enjoyed all on your own. Maxwell’s Pork Chop Sandwich (a bone-in grilled pork chop with caramelized onions and yellow mustard served on a pretzel bun), BLT Pasta (rigatoni with fire roasted tomatoes, arugula and bacon) and Roasted Beet & Arugula Salad (with quinoa, bleu cheese and toasted pistachios) are all on the lunch and dinner menu.

Be sure to wash all of that down with a draft beer or craft cocktail. Bloody Marys for all on Sunday, when Republica serves brunch!

The Stand Bistro, 34977 Woodward Ave., Birmingham, is “to be experienced, not explained,” according to the restaurant’s tagline, so I hope I do it justice here. The lunch and dinner menus are a little bit different, so read on to find out what time of day suits your cravings the best.

If you’re heading to The Stand around lunchtime, you can expect to find Duck Confit Flatbread, Seafood Sausage and Roasted Oysters on the starter menu. Salad choices include Red and Green Pear Salad and Warm Spinach & Radicchio, amongst others. The sandwich board provides several mid-day meal options, such as Grilled Birmingham Pastrami (with provolone, mustard and citrus cole slaw on pumpernickel) and Beef Burger (a blend of ground sirloin and short rib served on a potato bun). If you’re in the mood for more of a well-rounded meal, order the Veal Meatballs or Alaskan Halibut.

For dinner, you’ll find Honey Baked Brie (with puff pastry and blueberry jam) and Spaghetti & Butternut Squash Ravioli (served with savory granola) on the starter menu. Follow that up with a cup of Maine Lobster soup, or skip right to the main course with Acorn Squash Cream Linguini (with roasted shallots, dried currants and tarragon), Miller Amish Chicken Breast (served with wild rice and cherries) or Canadian Wild Salmon (served with broccoli and red pepper coulis). There are also a few vegan choices and plenty of sharable side items, like Mac-n-Five Cheese, Butter Quinoa and Yukon Twice Baked Potatoes.

While you’re there, try a craft cocktail, like the Maple & Woodward (Woodward Whiskey with Michigan maple syrup, orange bitters and orange peel), or a Michigan-made craft beer, such as Dragonmead Dubbel Dragon (brewed only for The Stand!)

Sips Gastropub, 59259 Van Dyke Rd., Washington, prides itself on serving “contemporary comfort foods” with a seasonally changing menu and plenty of Michigan-made beer. The menu consists of sharable snacks, soups, salads, sandwiches, pizza, main dishes and more.

Hopefully you and your date can agree on which starter to share, with tons of appetizing choices like Grilled Bread and Michigan Jam with goat butter, Meatballs and Red Sauce (with three different types of cheese, basil, oregano and parsley) and Baked Mac & Cheese. “Between the Bread” options include the Southern Comfort Burger (topped with pulled pork, pickled jalapenos, coleslaw and cheddar cheese on a brioche bun), The Shelby (turkey, corned beef, coleslaw, Tillamook cheddar and secret sauce sandwiched between sourdough bread) and Open Faced Bangers and Mash.

Main dishes include 48-Hour Chicken (served with smashed potatoes, vegetables and gravy) and Garlic Prawns and Angel Hair (with tomato, arugula, lemon, sauvignon blanc, capers, basil, oregano and Parmigiano-Reggiano).

Sips carries my personal favorite Michigan brew, Short’s Soft Parade, as well as others including Greenbush Sunspot and New Holland The Poet. There is also quite an impressive wine list, for those of you who prefer vino.

Social House, 6139 Haggerty Rd., West Bloomfield, has nearly 30 craft beers on draft, so you shall never go thirsty. There are also adult (read, boozy) milkshakes on the menu! Try the Salted Caramel, with Corzo Reposado tequila, caramel sauce and Hudsonville ice cream, served in a glass with a sea salt rim.

I suppose it would be responsible to eat a little something before indulging, though, ‘eh? In that case, there are plenty of $5 lunch specials to fill your tummy, including a Spicy Brat, Social House Chicken Wrap (with housemade special KABOOM sauce) and All-American Burger (made with a signature blend of spices).

Appetizers come in mini sizes (for one) and social (for multiple, or one very hungry individual), including better Made Mac n Cheese, Short Rib Chili and the house favorite, Mushroom Strudel (baked in phyllo dough, topped with white wine sauce and served on a bed of cabbage). For the main event, try the Build Your Own Social House Burger (a blend of chuck, brisket and short rib from American Angus beef), Chardonnay Chicken or Salmon Fish & Chips (battered with Short’s beer!).

Craft Work, 8047 Agnes St., Detroit, has a menu full of new American dishes made with the highest quality ingredients around. The dinner menu includes appetizers like Crab Dip (with spinach, artichokes, crab and mascarpone) and Sausage and Peppers, as well as salads such as Yellowtail Tuna Salad, Tempura Chicken Salad and Bleu Cheese & Arugula Salad.

Entrée choices include gluten free options like Grilled Trout (with lemon, thyme and sweet corn) and Red Beet and Cauliflower (with tahini, lentils, sunflower seeds and golden raisins), as well as traditional items like Fish & Chips and Fried Chicken.

Brunch at Craft Work is something you do not want to miss. Buttermilk Pancakes, Tofu Mushroom Scramble, French Toast and Eggs Benedict are all on the menu. Don’t forget to pair your choice with a brunch cocktail, like an expertly crafted Mint Julep or Cuba Libre.

There you have it, hungry Metro Detroiters. Go forth and head to a gastropub this weekend, where you’ll enjoy a fantastically made from scratch meal along with skillfully made cocktails.