Cheers: Standby makes a bold debut

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

With its curtains drawn and the main entrance in an alley, craft cocktail lounge Standby may seem like a subtle addition to the downtown bar scene.

The list of nearly 50 cocktails and a decadent food menu, however, make the eagerly-anticipated bar and restaurant hardly understated.

Every seat was full early on a recent Friday, with most customers in the 25-35 age range, to match the staff. Award-winning Detroit bartender Shane McGrath was behind the bar shaking and stirring drinks from the tremendous cocktail menu.

The list organizes drinks by booze — whiskey, agave, rum, gin and brandy — and also gives insight on the beverages’ flavors, which range from spicy and bold to bright and easy. The menu also tells what kind of glass you’ll be getting and if the drink is shaken or stirred. Select cocktails are also available on tap. Prices range $8-$20.

If too many options overwhelm you, grab a $3 Miller High Life to sip while pondering your next booze move.

The food ranges from gourmet bar snacks like duck fat fried almonds and gin-marinated olives ($6 each) to a full meal like lacquered turkey leg with beer braised cabbage, tavern potatoes and fennel puree ($20). A classy $14 cheeseburger comes with bacon and two-year aged Widmer cheddar.

Standby, at 225 Gratiot in the art-filled Belt alley behind the Z Garage, is open 5 p.m.-2 a.m. daily. The kitchen is open until midnight.

New gastropub opens in Novi

Michigan beer and locally-sourced food is the focus at Michigan Beer Company, at 42785 Grand River in Novi. The gastropub will feature the mitten state on its menu with dishes like Bad Axe venison burger and the Holland cabin fever braised pork belly. Chef Jeff Krulikowski, a former sous chef at Toasted Oak, is heading the kitchen.

Naturally, with a name like Michigan Beer Company, the taps will be dedicated to local brews from Kuhnhenn Brewery, Griffin Claw, Bell’s, Atwater and others. Drink them at the bar, or buy a jug to-go from the “growler station.”

MCB is open daily for dinner, and a Sunday brunch will kick off in January. Hear local singer-songwriters in the all-season beer garden Thursdays-Saturdays. Reservations are accepted by calling (248) 308-2717.

Deliciously brief

■Opening next month, Strada in Royal Oak will focus on Italian food, wine and craft cocktails. Chef Rachel Spaccarotelli, who has a French background, will be at the helm. Strada, an expansion of the Hamlin Corner, is at 366 N. Main.

■A fourth Michigan location of MOD Pizza opened this week in Woodhaven. The Seattle-based artisan-style pizza chain plans to have 25 restaurants in this state within the next few years. Branches are already up and running in Livonia, Northville and Rochester Hills, and a fifth spot is set to open in Brighton.

Food & beverage events

Max Hardy and JR Robinson at Revolver: Nationally-known chefs Hardy and Robinson create a “taste of Harlem” dinner at Revolver on Sunday. Private chef and entrepreneur Hardy recently was on the Food Network show “Chopped,” and you may have seen Robinson when he was a contestant on Gordon Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen.” Their six-course meal at Revolver includes creole snapper nuggets, vegetable dumpling shooters, fisherman soup, seafood ragu, braised short ribs and dessert. 7 p.m. Sun. $75 (includes tax and soft drinks, but not gratuity). 9737 Jos Campau, Hamtramck. (313) 757-3093.

Buon Natale Cena at Cafe Cortina: This Christmas Eve dinner celebrates the holiday and the restaurant’s 40th anniversary. Seatings are being scheduled between 4-6:45 p.m. Dec. 24. $85 per person, wine pairings starting at $22. 30715 W. 10 Mile, Farmington Hills. (248) 474-3033.

Raclette Feast at MotorCity Wine: Melted cheese with bread, potatoes, cured meats, pickles and more, plus jazz music. 5 p.m. Dec. 27. $15. 1949 Michigan, Detroit. (313) 483-7283.

Brewery Bus Tour with Motor City Brew Tour: The first bus tour of the year, this trip visits Dark Horse Brewery in Marshall, Territorial Brewing Co. in Battle Creek and Grand River Brewery in Jackson. Tickets include transportation, brewery tours, beer samples, lunch and snacks. 8:15a.m.-7:30 p.m. Jan. 9. $75. Pick up at Sixth and Lafayette in Royal Oak or at the M-14/Miller Road Exit Park & Ride in Ann Arbor.

Vodka Vodka 2016 at Royal Oak Music Theatre: Sample more than 60 vodkas at this popular winter event that also has entertainment, DJs, a fashion show and food. 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23. $45-$65. 318 W. Fourth, Royal Oak. (248) 399-2980.

Italian Wine Dinner at Mabel Gray: Mabel Gray chef James Rigato invites restauranteur Luciano Del Signore (Bacco, Bigalora) to join him in creating a six-course Italian feast, paired with wines by sommelier Rachel Van Til. 6 p.m. Jan. 31. $115 plus tax and tip. 23825 John R, Hazel Park. (248) 398-4300.

North American Belgian Beer Festival at Ashley’s Westland: This is the largest beer festival in the United States that features exclusively Belgian beers. Feb. 11-21. $35 and up. 7525 N. Wayne, Westland. (734) 525-1667.

Winter Beer Festival at Fifth Third Ball Park: More than 100 Michigan breweries will be represented at this annual celebration of our state’s craft beer industry. The festival is expected to sell out. 3-7 p.m. Feb. 26 and 1-6 p.m. Feb. 27. $45-$50. A transportation package is available through 4500 West River Dr. NE, Comstock Park, Grand Rapids.

Melody Baetens