The Park Grill offers a slant on Mediterranean fare and adds Balkan and Greek dishes to the menu. (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)
People who are willing to give an unknown restaurant a try have been getting a very pleasant surprise at the Park Grill in Grosse Pointe Park.
Open for just three months on the corner of Kercheval and Maryland streets, the low-key spot serving a Mediterranean menu made with noticeably fresh ingredients has been drawing people in simply by word of mouth.
And they are coming back. With Adi Kokoshi in the kitchen; his wife, Marcida, serving the tables; his father, Jim, doing the shopping at the Eastern Market; and his mother, Mira, providing the recipes, this is truly a family enterprise. And the devotion shows.
Because the family is from Albania, their slant on Mediterranean is just a little different from the many restaurants around town serving Mediterranean and Middle Eastern menus.
The Kokoshis have added Balkan and Greek dishes along with the more familiar stuffed grape leaves, chicken shawarma, hummus and tabbouli.
They include a simply delicious white bean soup called fasule that the chef says he grew up with; charbroiled pork tenderloin marinated in lemon and pepper; and two versions of kafta -- seasoned ground chicken with parsley and herbs and another combining ground beef and pork. Here the dish is called qofte.
Fergese, made with roasted peppers, tomatoes, feta cheese and olive oil and served with pita bread, is another distinctive dish, as is the eggplant spread. Unlike the typical baba ghanouj, it is a much more assertive mix of roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, garlic and olive oil, but no tahini.
Vegetarians are going to love the vegetarian plate, which includes grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs, hummus, tabbouleh, eggplant spread, spinach and cheese pie made with phyllo dough, a few slices of wild cucumber pickle, as well as cabbage salad and pickled beets. It's plenty for two to share.
The space has been nicely renovated, with the big windows left uncovered to allow natural light to pour in. "Natural" is a key word menu-wise too.
Most of the ingredients are purchased from small local producers. Because Park Grill is on the stretch of Kercheval where a farmer's market takes place Saturdays during spring and summer (starting in late May), they say they will be getting some of their produce right there.
Even before that's available, the freshness of the ingredients is obvious. Take the cabbage salad, for instance. It's a mix of shredded red and white cabbage, julienned carrots, little tendrils of parsley and a scattering of red pepper in a subtly applied extra virgin olive oil and vinegar dressing. It's colorful and delicious, and there's no pool of dressing left on the bottom of the bowl after the salad is finished.
Prices here are notably inexpensive, especially given the quality of the food and the skill of the preparation. Entrees at both lunch and dinner include a choice of rice pilaf or roasted potatoes, as well as soup or salad.
Adi Kokoshi hopes to add more daily specials to the menu. One that is already a hit is the Thursday feature, lamb shanks.
The Kokoshis came to Michigan in the early '90s with a dream of opening their own restaurant. Now they've made it happen. And I think a lot of people are going to be happy they did.