Restaurateur and chef Omar Mitchell knows he’s not reinventing the wheel by opening a burger restaurant. That’s why he went for what he believes is a unique concept with his highly customizable meals at Great Lakes Burger Bar.
At his mostly carry-out spot north of Rosedale Park in Detroit, Mitchell sells craft burgers in a fast-food model. Order at the counter, and then pick out toppings assembly-line style. Customers can choose from six different patties — ground steak sirloin, turkey, crab, salmon, chicken breast or veggie — and build a burger using more than two dozen toppings mashed between your choice of brioche or pretzel bun. You can also choose a gluten-free bun or a lettuce wrap.
Wackadoo burger toppings are in vogue and Mitchell, who opened Great Lakes Burger Bar with his twin brother, Shimar, in February, are trying to entice with as much variety as possible. There are five ways to add onion alone: onion ring, fried onions, sauteed onion, raw red onion, or marinated onion with cucumbers.
Some toppings, including chipotle pepper relish, coleslaw, pickles and sauteed mushrooms are free. Premium toppings ranging from applewood smoked bacon ($1.25) to garlic butter lobster ($4.98), let you to get extra dramatic with your meal.
The options don’t stop at burgers. Great Lakes has more than a dozen flavors of shakes, and hot dogs and sausages, salads and sides, such as sweet potato fries, onion rings, grilled corn on the cob, spicy fried green beans and french fries.
Omar Mitchell, a native Detroiter who trained under Certified Master Chef Milos Cihelka at the acclaimed Golden Mushroom in Southfield, can’t leave the french fries alone, either. Order them topped with Parmesan and cilantro, garlic and herb olive oil, chili cheese, bacon or get them Cajun-style.
Mitchell also owns a build-your-own pasta concept called I Luv Cheese. He has a location in Clinton Township and in January will open a second in Sterling Heights. I Luv Cheese was open briefly downtown on Broadway, but has since closed.
The chef is still experimenting with locations and hoping to grow his businesses. The Great Lakes Burger Bar on West McNichols just west of Southfield has been open since February. A Garden City location was open briefly, but didn’t work out. His vision is to grow and he’s hoping to be able to land an investor soon, so he can expand.
■Chef-driven restaurant Conserva will open to the public Saturday. The sleek and contemporary space is at 201 E. Nine Mile in Ferndale, where Torino was. Chef Matthew Baldridge is in the kitchen and his wife and partner, artist Janna Coumoundouros, is responsible for the vibe.
■Cork & Rye deli in Farmington Hills has started a delivery service for personal and catering orders. The deli and cafe specializes in Kosher and Middle Eastern foods and has an in-house specialty wine, liquor and craft beer store. They also make made-in-Michigan custom gift baskets.
■Chef Brad Greenhill of Corktown’s popular new spot Katoi will make dinner at Hamtramck pop-up space Revolver Dec. 16-17. He’ll make five courses you won’t find at Katoi, like apple toast, Brussels sprouts and lasagne verde. Seating are 6 and 9 p.m. and cost $55 (tax included, gratuity not included). Revolver is at 9737 Jos Campau, Hamtramck. Visit revolverhamtramck.com.