April 2, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Molly Abraham

Reborn Park Grill becomes a Detroit dining destination

Spinach pie is one of the favorites that remains on the menu at the Grosse Pointe Park restaurant. (David Coates / The Detroit News)

It’s always a calculated risk for a restaurant to expand after several successful years in its original space. Will the regulars like the new look? Will the time, effort and expense of a complete re-do really be worth it when the dust clears?

In the case of the Park Grill, the answer to both questions is a resounding yes.

The reborn spot, open barely two weeks now, is getting rave reviews from people who already loved the Mediterranean fare with a Balkan twist from the kitchen of Adi Kokoshi, his mother Mira and their staff. Now the meat and spinach pies, the red and white cabbage salad, the addictive garlic sauce, and hummus with roasted lamb are being served with the amenities of linen napkins, white china and graceful glassware in a room painted a soft gray and decorated with classical artworks based on the history of Albania, the Kokoshis’ homeland.

The new and well-stocked bar with its high-topped tables, including one communal table, adds about 25 seats to the total of 70 and helps give the space an airy feeling. The original tin ceiling and ductwork have been painted black, and the result is a setting that does justice to the quality of the food.

The all-day menu offers many choices. Diners may put together their own assortment of small tasting plates, choose one of more than a dozen wrap sandwiches, vegetarian or meat, or go to the list of entrees that include a choice of rice pilaf or roasted, garlic mashed potatoes or French fries, and soup or salad.

Sharable (or not) appetizers include, of course, what many cannot resist: triangles of pita bread with fluffy garlic sauce ($3.50). A dipping plate includes that as well as a spread made with roasted eggplant and red peppers, garlic and olive oil, plus beets and tzatziki, the Greek yogurt and cucumber sauce, at $7, typical of the gentle price structure. Another notable appetizer is the prettily arranged plate of crumbled feta cheese, Kalamata olives and spears of wild cucumber pickles with oregano, parsley and a flourish of thinly sliced red pepper.

Soups include Mira Kokoshi’s fasule, an Albanian soup made with dried white beans, and lentil, both vegan, as well as lemon rice, and they are notable.

Although this menu makes it particularly tempting to go the small plates route, the entrees are also appealing, including chicken and beef shawarma, chicken or beef and pork kafta, lemon-pepper marinated pork tenderloin, as well as chicken in the same preparation. All portion sizes are generous. Lamb chops are served in multiples of three at $14.95, definitely a bargain.

Service is friendly and informal by the casually dressed staff, many of whom stuck with the family during the eight-month construction.

The dining room was not the only upgraded space. The kitchen, with its gleaming new 10-burner stove, has also been renovated and expanded.

And there’s no doubt that the addition of a full bar is making a difference. The wine list is particularly impressive, not because of its length, but because each bottle seems to have been individually chosen to accompany the Mediterranean fare. And like the reasonably priced fare, it, too, is affordable, with wines by the glass at $6-$11 and bottles mostly less than $40.

This former little neighborhood spot is now a destination restaurant, while maintaining its unpretentious quality.

Park Grill

15102 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe Park

Call: (313) 264-1997

Rating: 3 stars (out of 4)

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., (bar open later) 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.

Prices: Appetizer $3.50-$10.50, sandwiches $4.25-$10.50, salads $4.50-$7.50, entrees $11.95-$18.95 (except for eight-bone rack of lamb), desserts $2.50-$5.50

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: Full bar and a well-chosen wine list

Noise level: Low to moderate

Parking: Street

Wheelchair access: No barriers

(313) 222-1475

A lamb chop dinner is one of the entrees at the Park Grill, which ... (David Coates / The Detroit News)
Entrees such as the beef shawarma come with a variety of side dish ... (David Coates / The Detroit News)
Laura Szczerbinski carries an order through the revamped Park Grill. (David Coates / The Detroit News)
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