July 9, 2014 at 11:58 am

Molly Abraham

Atwater in the Park turns a church into a tasty biergarten

One thing isn’t in doubt about Atwater in the Park: People simply love to hang out at the new microbrewery in the repurposed church, judging from the crowds that fill the picnic tables under bright yellow market umbrellas in the biergarten and also the tables and bar seats in the majestic setting indoors.

Churches do make great settings for restaurants, and this one — the former Grace United Church — seems especially well-suited to the repurposing because of its corner location and spacious courtyard.

The collaboration between the downtown Detroit brewery and the Epicurean Restaurant Group opened last month after a full year of reconstruction, and it’s pretty much been a packed house ever since.

Since mankind can’t live on beer alone, an accompanying menu has been put together by executive chef Kevin Green, and it’s perhaps surprisingly extensive. It has an appropriate German emphasis but also includes an array of bar food, the obligatory burger, of course, as well as pizza, fish & chips and chicken wings. All fine and good. But much better to go with the theme here, as it is everywhere.

A German brewery — all of the shiny equipment under the stained glass windows is from Munich — calls for bratwurst, knackwurst and sauerkraut, with beer mustard and country bread, or perhaps one of the the schnitzels, from the classic wiener schnitzel topped with lemon/caper sauce to versions made with chicken, eggplant and even trout.

Two sides are included with these dishes from a list that offers potato latkes, applesauce, cucumber dill salad and what the menu calls “German potato salad,” but on my visit seemed to be simply tiny, multicolored potatoes in vinaigrette. Back to the drawing board with that one.

Currently, only the house brews and cider are available at the big U-shaped bar that centers the dining room. In the coming weeks, house wines and liquor are expected to be added, the proprietors say. Those who just want a snack with one of the 30-plus beers may choose a basket of pretzels with a couple of dipping sauces, pretzel flatbread or a pork belly corn dog from the list of munchies

Atwater in the Park is a key element in the transformation of Kercheval Avenue in Grosse Pointe Park into a viable dining and entertainment center. It joins neighbors Red Crown, the restaurant in the ’30s gas station across the street; the Park Grill, the Mediterranean spot that recently added a bar; and the long-standing Antonio’s and its Italian fare. All also have attractive outdoor seating, if not biergartens.

Atwater in the Park

1175 Lakepointe at Kercheval, Grosse Pointe Park

Call: (313) 344-5104

Web: www.atwaterinthepark.com

Rating: 2 ˝stars (out of 4)

Hours: 2 p.m.-midnight Mon.-Fri., noon-midnight Sat.,

noon-10 p.m. Sun. (bar open later)

Prices: Appetizers and soups $4-$9, sandwiches and burgers $10-$12, pizzas $7-$8,

entrees $8-$20

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: House-brewed beer and cider only (more variety planned)

Noise level: High

Parking: Street

Wheelchair access: No barriers

(313) 222-1475

Classic wiener schnitzel is served with a lemon/caper sauce and two sides at Atwater in the Park. / Brandy Baker / The Detroit News
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