Charcuterie boards, cheese plates and antipasti offerings around town, plus updates for Pop’s for Italian in Ferndale
When eyeballing a new menu, particularly at restaurants that focus on wine or beer, I always look for a charcuterie or cheese plate. I’ve even been known to order a restaurant’s antipasti offerings as entree, but I’m usually willing to share.
One of my favorites around town is Republic’s Ploughman’s Plate. It’s an ever-changing selection of meats cured in-house, bread that’s baked on site, cheese, pickled items and usually a dollop of pate. It’s so good that I almost wish it didn’t change — one time it came with a shrimp butter that will never be forgotten — but not knowing what’s coming is part of the fun.
The plate, which runs $25, is also a good way to get the gist of what they do at Republic. The Detroit restaurant, which opened in early 2015 at 1942 Grand River, emphasizes old-world cooking techniques and locally sourced ingredients.
Another new favorite is the the cheese and meat boards at Kuhnhenn Brewing Company’s new Clinton Township taproom at 36000 Groesbeck. The brewing facility, distillery and restaurant is a smart choice for large groups because of its spacious dining area and huge parking lot.
I recommend sharing Kuhnhenn’s meat board ($16). The selection of aged Italian-style meats, hard and spreadable cheeses, grainy mustard and an olive mix pair well with just about any of their house-made beers or wines. A meat-free plate is also offered ($13) with cheese, fruit, jam, olives, hummus and crackers.
Another beer-friendly starter plate is the “snack board” at Monk Beer Abbey, 419 Main in Royal Oak (next to Bastone Brewery). The rotating selection of meat, cheese, olives, nuts and breads is perfect to pick at while browsing the selection of Belgian beers.
At Ottava Via in Corktown, you build your own antipasti plate. Choose from three kinds of olives for $3 each, three cheeses for $10 and a variety of Italian meats ranging from Genoa salami ($4) to duck prosciutto ($7). You can also choose two meats and two cheese for $14, served with some nuts, pickled vegetables and other munchies.
Chef Paul Grosz of the Stand Gastro Bistro, 34977 Woodward in Birmingham, also shares my love for charcuterie and regularly makes plates using terrines, sausages, salami and prosciutto. The Stand also has a cheese board ($15) that offers diners a choice of five cheeses from a list of more than a dozen.
One of the newer antipasti plates in town is at Pop’s for Italian, 280 W. Nine in Ferndale. It’s a shareable dish stacked with meat, cheese, mustard, jam, nuts, grilled vegetables, arugula and bread. It runs $15 and is a perfect appetizer to snack on while deciding among which of their dozen or so Neapolitan pizzas to order.
Pop’s expands with brunch, more space
After opening earlier this year, Pop’s for Italian and its sister restaurant in the same Ferndale building, Daily Dinette, are headed for some tweaks.
A portion of the Daily Dinette will be redesigned to offer more space for Pop’s to offer private dining, wine classes and other special diners and events.
Daily Dinette, which specializes in doughnuts and breakfast sandwiches, will get new counter-style seating and will add grab-and-go salads to the menu. The breakfast and late-night spot has clipped its hours a bit and is open 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun.-Thurs. and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
Last month Pop’s added a brunch menu that’s getting good buzz. One of the standout features is a starter bar. For $8, ($5 as an add-on to your brunch), guests can help themselves to a buffet of fresh fruit, pastries from Daily Dinette, granola, meats and cheeses.
The brunch menu, available 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.-Sun., also has freshly squeezed juices, breakfast pizzas — I recommend the pear, prosciutto, goat cheese and arugula pie — plus a variety of eggs Benedicts, frittatas, waffles and Italian dishes such as polenta and eggs.