After talking about it for years, Ferndale neighbors Mike Mouyianis and Dan Kelly got together with Jim Tavano and three other friends and got serious about opening a restaurant. And when what seemed to be an ideal space became available mid-block on Nine Mile just west of Woodward, Zeke's Rock & Roll B.B.Q. became more than just an idea tossed around over a few beers.
They unveiled it last week, showing off a carefully crafted industrial setting, with exposed ductwork, lots of wood-topped tables, parquet floors and a professional sound system, just right for the parade of meats coming from the Southern Pride smoker in the gleaming kitchen.
Fans of barbecue will find plenty of brisket, burnt ends and ribs to choose from, along with house-made barbecue sauces, including pineapple habanero, Carolina vinegar, mustard and a fourth named for the establishment. But the all-day menu departs from the typical smokehouse lineup with a number of unexpected dishes, starting with an appetizer of fried corn on the cob, which comes to the table in multiples of three. The cobs impaled on wooden skewers look like offbeat lollipops and are deliciously spicy and tender. Another skewered appetizer is bacon-wrapped glazed shrimp and, like most of the starters, it is sharable.
Coleslaw comes in two varieties, one traditional, the other a sriracha-spiced version, but both are vinegary and appropriately tart rather than mushy lunch-counter style. If anyone is looking for the traditional collard greens, they'll have to settle for tempura-style green beans with a chipotle ranch dressing or pan-fried Brussels sprouts, at least in the early going here. Also unexpected: the house-made tortilla chips, a bargain at $2 a basket or $5 with one of three dips, including an interesting Greek cheese mix.
Obviously, the menu will change on a regular basis, and the opening list will surely be edited. House-made soups are on the way, and they'll include chili, vegetable, promised to be spicy, and a soup of the day. Don't miss the firm cornbread, served with several dishes but also available a la carte, or the four-bone rib entrée at a modest $10 including cornbread and two sides.
Even before Zeke's opened its door last Wednesday, after several friends-and-family rehearsals, there were people clamoring to get in (they were politely turned away) so that bodes well for Ferndale's newest gathering place.
The rock and roll part of the equation will soon be emphasized with live bands spotlighted in one corner of the dining room. And they will be as carefully chosen as the metal sculptures and collectible posters displayed around the room, lighted in part by factory lamps.
Zeke's Rock & Roll B.B.Q.
240 W. Nine Mile, Ferndale
Call: (248) 206-7130
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Bar open later.
Prices: Appetizers $3-$10, salads $3.50-$13.99, sandwiches and burgers $9-$18, entrees $10-$26, sides $2-$3.50, desserts $5-$7.50.
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar.
Noise level: High
Parking: Municipal lot in rear or street
Wheelchair access: No barriers