The first thing that catches the eye at Voyager is the raw bar, where piles of oysters from east, west and southern waters are shucked by Richard Washington. He’s been a busy man since Eli Boyer’s attractive restaurant opened last month.
The slightly out-of-the-way location certainly hasn’t stopped crowds of people from finding this seafood lovers’ haven tucked into a Ferndale neighborhood north of Nine Mile Road. Many have been showing up for the 4-6 p.m. weekday happy hour, when some designated oysters are just $1 each.
The boxy, one-story building on the corner of Vester and Burdette has been beautifully adapted to its new use, with the raw bar and cocktail bar on one side of the single room, and a couple of rows of tables on the other, separated only by a low partition. It seats just 40, including the dozen seats at the bar, where the house drink is the Mai Tai. The setting is clean, spare and free from extraneous frou-frou.
The kitchen is visible in the rear, and that’s where co-chefs Jennifer Jackson and Justin Tootla, both classically trained and with experience at seafood restaurants in Chicago and L.A., turn out such dishes as fried clams with marinara sauce, made-to-order seafood chowder with an array of clams, mussels and cod, and a changing catch of the day. The meat choices are minimal, just steak tartare, one of the appetizers, and one steak, but it, too, gets a seafood touch with a topping of crab Louie.
The menu is small and focused, and it is based on the availability of the fresh seafood, as is the separate list of oysters that might have as many as 20 choices on a given day, from Moonstones and Malabars to Spencer Coves, all no more than 24 hours out of the water, and prettily served on the half shell with fresh lemon, cocktail sauce and a little shaker of mignonette sauce, the gently tart red wine vinegar and shallot mixture that is a classic accompaniment to oysters.
The wine and beer lists are equally well edited, with a total of just 15 wine choices, each available by the glass or bottle, and 11 craft beers. None of the usual suspects show up on either list, which has been as carefully planned as everything else in this compact space.
Service by the friendly staff is knowledgeable.
Proprietor Boyer, probably best known for his time as a principal at Gold Cash Gold in Corktown, wondered just prior to the opening if people would find the tucked-away location. He has his answer now, and it’s a resounding yes.
600 Vester, Ferndale
Call: (248) 658-4999
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., 4-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. Closed Sun.-Mon.
Prices: Oysters $2.25-$4, appetizers $8-$14, plates $6-$22, desserts $7
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar
Noise level: Moderate
Parking: Attached lot or street.
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★ — good ★★ 1/2 — very good ★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding