The name may sound like a multinational conglomerate, but that’s about as far from reality as one could get. Stache International is a grassroots production specializing in house-made sausages and smoked meats and hefty sandwiches in a funky market setting. It’s as down-to-earth as its Eastern Market neighborhood.
Ray Moses, one of the two proprietors, explains it by saying that his Italian/Lebanese/Irish heritage inspired the name. That’s the international part. And as a child, he often cooked with his grandmother, and in the family photos she showed him, the European men always had big moustaches. And that deciphers the Stache (pronounced Stash).
The airy space with uncovered front windows was, until recently, a bike shop. Now it has a counter overlooking a completely open kitchen where a pile of logs testify to the authenticity of the meat smoking.
The no-frills setting features picnic tables and wood-topped tables under exposed ductwork and open filament light bulbs, and tableware, paper napkins and condiments come to diners in Faygo pop six-pack cartons.
Faygo and Vernors are the only beverage choices aside from coffee, emphasizing the local approach. In the Detroit of today, local has taken on fresh new meaning. We embrace it rather than shy away, as might have been the case a couple of years ago.
Moses, his wife Gracie, and their partner, Steve Kay, have set up what is in essence an extension of next-door neighbor Thomas Magee’s Sporting House Whiskey Bar, a beer and whiskey bar that doesn’t serve food. Stache provides the sustenance for the cadre of soccer fans who congregate there to watch the matches in Liverpool, as well as local sports events. Stache is considering offering a “Liverpool breakfast — fried eggs, bratwurst and bacon” — aimed at the soccer crowd, Moses says.
Despite the emphasis on smoked meat, Stache offers something for vegetarians, including a changing array of green salads made with fresh ingredients from the nearby market, and spring rolls, known as firecracker bites, filled with sweet jalapeno jam and a pair of cheeses, to be dolloped with two house-made hot sauces, a Cajun ranch mix called Boom, and Kaboom, a classic red sauce that’s somewhat spicier.
The array of sandwiches, each one of which is an ensemble production, includes the appealing Uncle Jesse (marinated lamb, grilled onion, kasseri cheese and tzatziki sauce on grilled sourdough), and the meatless crowd may substitute sliced, smoked portobello mushroom for the lamb.
Others typical of the style here are the Refined Swine, made with smoked and marinated pork shoulder and dressed with aioli sparked with rosemary atop a crunchy roll, and the Southern Belle, smoked turkey breast and thick-cut bacon with melted Swiss and braised collard greens on an onion roll. My favorite, so far, is the Happy Drunk, a combination of the delicious house-made sausage marinated in, of all things, beer and butter, topped with the mild sauerkraut and brown mustard on a bun.
In the early going — Stache has been open just two weeks now — there are nine sandwich choices served with thick cut potato chips seasoned with a house blend of spices, as are all the sandwiches. The spicy chips are also available as a side order.
Stache International is off to a promising start.
1420 E. Fisher Freeway, Detroit
Call: (313) 974-6895
Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Closed Sun.-Mon.
Prices: Appetizers $6.50, sandwiches $8-$10.50, salads $7.50
Credit cards: All major
Noise level: Moderate
Wheelchair access: No barriers
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★ — good
★★1/2 — very good ★★★ — excellent
★★★★ — outstanding