John D Bistro’s dining area is a single room that seats about 65. (Tim Galloway / Special to The Detroit News)
The new John D Bistro — the name comes from the lettering discovered on the building's façade during the remodeling — is just about the perfect size, a single room with space for about 65.
That makes it a bistro in the current vernacular, even though, like most of the other so-called bistros around town, it isn't the classic definition.
No, John D is a stylish little spot — with its outsized silvery draperies marking the entrance, its high-legged chairs pulled up to a mirror-edged black banquette, its balcony stage behind the bar and front window that rolls up garage-door style to welcome the breezes — with an up-to-date menu to match.
The single-page menu offers a mix of appetizers to share, as well as sandwiches, burgers dressed up with aioli or gorgonzola, the ubiquitous beet salad, as well as Caesar and wedge salads, and just eight entrees drawn from an international perspective. This means, of course, that John D's melting pot of dishes is quintessentially American.
As befits the chic setting, plate presentation is emphasized. Even the duck and lamb sliders, the juicy pieces of pulled meats piled on plump golden brown buns topped with a pickled pepper and a slice of dill pickle, are camera ready as they come to the tables on white china. And so are the thin, salt-dappled fries that come with burgers and sandwiches for an extra $2.
Among what the menu calls shared plates are chicken lollipops with dipping sauces of creamy blue cheese and spicy barbecue, the generous nuggets of chicken easily nibbled off the bone, three-cheese mac and cheese bubbling in its little metal pot, and slim asparagus stalks wrapped with prosciutto and goat cheese, each under $10, but in small portions. While the prices appear reasonable, they can quickly add up.
More solid entrees range from lamb chops at the top-of-the-price scale, filet mignon in mushroom sauce and a surprisingly appealing roasted chicken topped with a plume of fresh rosemary served in a miniature skillet.
The short wine list is carefully chosen, but certainly needs a few more wines by the glass. Currently, there are only about 14 choices, with the rest only served by the bottle.
When the stage behind the bar isn't in use for Latin jazz musicians or a deejay (on Thursdays and Saturdays), it becomes part of the dining room with the addition of three small tables, and they offer a bird's eye view of the handsome room.
Proprietor Eddie Farah comes from a family of restaurateurs. In fact, his cousin Jennifer and her husband Joe run one of Ferndale's most popular restaurants, Anita's Kitchen, right across the street from this new spot.