The Stand, a ground-floor restaurant in the imposing building on the corner of Woodward and Maple in Birmingham, has the subtitle “gastro bistro.” When it opened in early fall 2013, I thought that while the word gastro certainly fit the ambitions of that gleaming kitchen, bistro was not the right one to characterize a place this lavish. After all, it is a major production, not some modest little café with an aproned proprietor peeking out of the kitchen.
However, a recent visit changed that initial opinion. The word bistro really does reflect the place, thanks to the friendly personalities of the two proprietors, chef Paul Grosz and John Kelly, who make the Stand welcoming and unpretentious despite its stunning Victor Saroki setting and original artworks including a copper chandelier and number of glass sculptures by local artists that set the scene.
There’s not just one, but a series of menus, and both lunch and dinner menus include the names of the growers and purveyors who contribute to the dishes that emerge from Grosz’ open kitchen, such as Geddes Farms, Gunthorp Farms, Artisan Farm Detroit and Melo Farms.
The bar menu, available all day in the attractive room centered with a communal table made from wood reclaimed from Tiger Stadium, includes many of the house specialties, notably the charcuterie board of housemade cured meats and its sibling, the artisanal cheese board. Other selections include flatbreads from the oven of pastry chef Kevin Kearney, wonderful duck fat fries, that queen of soups, lobster bisque and a burger made from grass-fed beef, enhanced with a touch of Gruyere and tomato aioli and served on a housemade bun stamped with the restaurant’s name.
The 4-7 p.m. happy hour menu includes several of these dishes in what is a surprisingly affordable price structure — $7 to $9 — and craft cocktails at $7.
Both lunch and dinner menus are more extensive, and include such dishes as Alaskan halibut, beef tenderloin and — surprise, fried chicken — as well as many unexpected dishes typified by grilled quail with onion risotto, clam and mussel bake and smoked diver scallops.
A nice touch is that vegetable side dishes at dinner — coconut-crusted parsnips, house fries, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and grilled corn – are offered in portions to be shared by the table.
Seating arrangements in the three rooms that comprise the Stand include cozy banquettes tucked into corners, conventional tables and the bar. It almost goes without saying that the wine list is in keeping with a four-star restaurant. The Coravin system (wine preservation) allows normally bottle-only wines to be poured by the glass.
Grosz is also very much involved with Cuisine since the townhouse opened at 670 Lothrop in Detroit 15 years ago. “I go back and forth on Woodward about three times a day,” he says cheerfully of his work as co-owner and chef of two restaurants.
Note that both restaurants will close on July 1 for a 10-day vacation.
34977 Woodward, Birmingham
Call: (248) 220-4237
Hours: Lunch 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tues.-Fri., dinner 4-11 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 4-midnight Fri.-Sat. Closed Sun.
Prices: Lunch soups and salads $8-$20, sandwiches $9-$12, main dishes $11-$22, dinner appetizers $10-$14, mains $16-$45, desserts $3-$9
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar
Noise level: Moderate
Parking: Nearby municipal structure, street or valet
Wheelchair access: No barriers
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★ — good
★★1/2 — very good
★★★ — excellent
★★★★ — outstanding