Cheers: What does a $55 burger taste like?

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Last week, local food news was buzzing about a news release detailing a decadent burger at Birmingham’s Rugby Grille. Besides being topped with seared foie gras, the menu item was causing chatter because of its price tag: $55.

I decided to take a trip to the Rugby Grille, to see what a $55 burger tastes like.

Located in the Townsend Hotel, the Grille is definitely a special occasion restaurant known for old school style and top-notch service. Entrees, which average around $40, include roasted lamb loin, salmon matelote, duck a l’orange and a variety of steaks. The server’s description of the Dover sole prepared table side was almost enticing enough to make me forget the mission at hand, which was to order the foie burger.

The burger has a rich taste not only because of the seared foie gras (duck or goose liver from a bird that has been specially fattened; a controversial food) but also because the patty is made with expensive and fatty Wagyu beef. Under the patty there’s a layer of braised short rib and sweet onion jam, which adds sweetness to balance out the savory Parmesan aioli. The burger also has thinly-shaved burgundy truffles, greens and melted aged Thomasville Tomme cheese.

It’s served on a wooden block, which is smart because this baby is juicy. While it looks smaller than the press photo that was released last week, it’s still too tall to get all the layers in with one bite.

The layers are what stand out about this culinary creation, too. One soft bite may include the tender short rib and ground beef, while the next has the generous portion of the foie gras. It’s extremely rich, super savory and all the meats work well together.

Besides a side of extremely remarkable truffle French fries, the burger may also come with some interested looks from diners at other tables and a visit from the chef to make sure you are enjoying your $55 burger.

Firebird Tavern offers free ride

Going to the auto show? Have dinner or drinks at Greektown’s Firebird Tavern, and the server will spot you a few tokens to take the People Mover to Cobo Center (or Joe Louis Arena, if you’d rather see a Red Wings game).

It’s a cute promotion that may not save you a fortune, but it’ll save you the hassle of scrounging up cash. The Firebird, at 419 Monroe, is serious about craft beer and has a menu of hearty bar food like poutine, soft pretzels, steak fries and “fried gyro,” which are lamb-stuffed wontons.

Deliciously brief

■Ann Arbor Restaurant Week kicks off Sunday and runs through Jan. 22. More than 50 businesses are participating, and specials include $15 lunch (one to three courses) or a $28 three-course dinner. Visit

■The Root Restaurant & Bar in White Lake has expanded its hours for the new year. The seasonal dishes are now available on Sunday for brunch from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., and dinner 4-9 p.m. The Root, at 340 Town Center Blvd., is also open 4-10 p.m. Tues.-Thurs. and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

■Jim Brady’s Detroit on Main Street in Royal Oak debuted lunch service this week. The retro-chic bar and restaurant opens at 11 a.m. daily.

Food & beverage events

Drunks of Antiquity’s Detroit Historic Bar Tour: A bus tour of the city’s oldest and most interesting bars. 7-11 p.m. Fri. Get picked up at Foran’s Grand Trunk (612 Woodward, Detroit) at 6:15 p.m. or at Rosie O’Grady’s (279 W. Nine, Ferndale) at 6:55 p.m. $36.99.

“Hell’s Kitchen” premiere party at Local Kitchen & Bar: Two local chefs — Hassan Musselmani and Jared Bobkin — are contestants on the latest season of Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen.” Watch the season premiere with the chefs. 8:30 p.m. Fri. 344 W. Nine Mile, Ferndale. (248) 291-5650.

The Whiskey Rebellion at the Keep: Bartenders from Roast, the Oakland, Standby and Selden Standard will showcase their favorite original whiskey-based cocktails. The event includes some food from Standby and live music from Shine on Kentucky Moon. 6 p.m.-2 a.m. Sun. $10. 140 Cadillac Square, Detroit. (313) 974-5213.

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.

Joe Van Wagner and Ben Robinson pop-up at Local Kitchen and Bar: This six-course pop-up dinner from chefs Wagner and Robinson features beets, sweetbreads, venison and more. Wine paring available. 7 p.m. Jan. 25. $75. 344 W. Nine Mile, Ferndale. (248) 291-5650.

Italian Wine Dinner at Mabel Gray: Chef James Rigato invites restaurateur 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.

Grey Ghost Detroit at Gold Cash Gold: Sample food from the upcoming Midtown restaurant Grey Ghost in this pork-heavy five-course meal featuring fruits of the pig. Cocktail pairings available for an extra charge. 5 and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8. $60. 2100 Michigan, Detroit. Email for reservations.

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.

Les Deux Dachshunds dinner at Yemans Street: A five-course, French-inspired dinner from Les Deux Dachshunds pop-up supper club. 7 p.m. Feb. 13. $75. 2995 Yemans, Hamtramck.

Vegan Feast at Bottle Tasting Room: Amber Poupore, owner of Royal Oak’s Cacao Tree, presents a vegan dinner with wine pairings. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Feb. 15. $40. 29932 Woodward, Royal Oak. (248) 850-7175.

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