Jai-Lee Dearing didn’t have to look far to find the location for his second restaurant. The space was right next door to his Rockefeller’s Oyster Bar on the corner of Mack and Nottingham in Grosse Pointe Park. And six weeks ago he unveiled the handsome Bootleggers Pig & Whiskey, two rooms done up in a Prohibition theme, complete with mug shots of notorious gangsters, clusters of Edison bulbs and a bar stocked with an impressive number of premium whiskeys with an emphasis on bourbon.
Dearing went back to his roots in writing the menu. He grew up at Bert’s BBQ at the Eastern Market helping his father, so it wasn’t a stretch to write a menu featuring burnt ends, pulled pork, smoked sausage and ribs, a nice contrast to the seafood menu at Rockefeller’s.
The two restaurants share a kitchen, but if you want oysters on the half shell, you’ll have to go next door. Each has its own distinctive menu and atmosphere.
And speaking of sharing, Bootleggers offers a number of sharable dishes, from deep-fried dill pickles and smoked chicken wings to pulled pork nachos. The rib sampler brings three meaty bones to the table and they are a good value at $9.99. There are also two complete dinner combinations that feed either four to five or two to three.
The Lucky Luciano combo, for instance, includes ribs, a whole smoked chicken, smoked sausage, a choice of pulled pork or beef brisket, cornbread muffins and two sides from a list of a dozen. Divide the price, $52.95, into three and it’s revealed as a pretty good deal.
Among the sides are appealing herb-roasted redskin potatoes as well as red beans and rice, coleslaw in its very creamy guise, steak-cut French fries and mac and cheese. The house barbecue sauce is on every table and on the bar. It’s a nicely balanced middle-of-the-road sauce, not sweet, not spicy. Dearing says he plans to add a couple more varieties of sauce in the near future. Across the board, portions are generous.
The sandwich list includes catfish, shrimp and fried oyster po’boys, as well as the burger in several interpretations, including one that includes pulled pork. Vegetarians, avert your eyes.
The menu could stand trimming. There are simply too many selections, including some that seem out of left field for a rib spot. Cases in point: the salad of grilled chicken, strawberries and walnuts, and spinach and artichoke dip. Huh?
The comfortable setting includes sturdy high-backed barstools pulled up to the polished wood bar with its backdrop of carefully displayed glassware and bottles, and a number of tables in a family-friendly adjoining room.
The whiskey selection includes such connoisseur level stuff as 10-year-aged Bulleit bourbon, Crown Royal Monarch and Glenmorangie Nectar d’Or Scotch. For the rest of us, there’s a nice selection of beer.
Pig & Whiskey Bar
15412 Mack, Grosse Pointe Park
Call: (313) 429-1010
Hours: Dinner 3-11 p.m. Tues.-Sun.
Prices: Appetizers $6.95-$11.99,
soups and salads $4.95-$15.95,
sides $3.99, sandwiches $9.95-$12.95, entrees $11.95-$22.99
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar with an emphasis
Noise level: Moderate.
Parking: Valet and street
Wheelchair access: No barriers
What the ratings mean
★— routine ★★ — good
★★1/2 — very good ★★★ — excellent
★★★★ — outstanding