Restaurant report: What just opened, and what is coming

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

This week saw the debut of a handful of fine dining spots in Metro Detroit, and a parade of restaurants of all stripes are still readying to open.

The Apparatus Room opened Monday inside the Foundation Hotel (250 W. Larned, Detroit) bringing a Michelin-starred chef to Detroit. Michigan native Thomas Lents returns home from Chicago’s Sixteen restaurant.

Also last week, restaurateur George Sboukis revived the storied Caucus Club, which closed in 2012 after 60 years of serving steaks, bull shot cocktails and classic dishes in a dimly lit atmosphere (150 W. Congress, Detroit; in the Penobscot Building).

This new version keeps the American steakhouse menu — dry-aged meats, steaks, chops, prime rib, seafood, etc. — but in an atmosphere that’s brighter and more open, from large windows on Congress to the kitchen that’s completely viewable from windows in the Penobscot’s hallway.

After Coach Insignia’s lease was not renewed at the GM Renaissance Center in February, the Epicurean Group moved the operation to Southfield, where they opened the Nomad Grill last weekend. Located at the Best Western Premier (26555 Telegraph), the Nomad Grill offers glimpses of Coach Insignia, such as the famous lobster corn dog dish and the Coach Insignia Cabernet.

There’s been a theme change at 18 W. Adams where Rub BBQ Pub has transformed to Brass Rail Pizza Bar. Owners of the 220-seat restaurant have traded the barbecue menu for gourmet pizzas, salads and sandwiches. A happy hour menu (4-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri.) boasts $2 well drinks, $2 domestic draft beers, $6 cheese pizza and $2 pork sliders.

This weekend, the big restaurant opening is in the suburbs where Michigan-based beer bar HopCat will open its 13th location nationwide Saturday. The renovated, 11,700-square-foot space at 208 W. Fifth in downtown Royal Oak is where Woody’s and Onyx restaurants were.

Typically the opening of a new HopCat is cause for celebration among craft beer fans, and a line out the door is not unusual. It helps that the restaurant gives out free baskets of its signature snack “crack fries” (seasoned French fries) on opening day.

On the opposite end of the hype spectrum is La Noria, a casual eatery in a former coney island diner at 5517 Michigan in Detroit. I’m excited about this debut because its coming to us from the same owners of El Barzon, which blends Mexican and Italian fare so well and offers consistently good service.

La Noria’s theme will be similar to El Barzon’s, but more casual, with Mexican food and also a wood-burning brick oven for pizza.

In Eastern Market, the owners of Gather are putting final touches on their eco-friendly restaurant at 1454 Gratiot, which will serve meals family-style and hopes to keep their carbon footprint as low as possible.

Ford’s Garage in Dearborn has begun hiring to fill all positions to prepare for its opening. The car-themed restaurant at 21367 Michigan will cover 13,000 square feet and will serve nearby office workers and other diners.

Early reports say the restaurant will have a 1920s service station vibe and serve gourmet burgers and a large variety of craft beers.

Lastly, here’s a fun one. Ready Player One: Bar and Arcade will have old school video games, plus food and drink. The Greektown-area bar, 407 E. Fort, is looking for staff now and put up a new sign last week.

Flint Restaurant Week

More than a dozen Flint businesses are on board for the return of Flint Restaurant Week, which runs through Saturday.

This year the Michigan Restaurant Association has teamed up to help shine a light on the promotion, which drew an estimated 15,000 diners to local bars and restaurants in 2016.

Nineteen bars and restaurants will offer special pricing and some will offer entertainment and tap takeovers. Guests can pick up a passport and those that visit six participating restaurants can turn in the passport for a chance to win a prize.

Some of the participating restaurants include White Horse Tavern (621 W. Court), Hoffman’s Deco Deli & Cafe (503 Garland), Flint Crepe Co. (555 Saginaw), and Blackstone’s Irish/American Gastro Pub (531 Saginaw) and Tenacity Brewing (119 N. Grand Traverse).

Visit flintrestaurantweek.com for more details.


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Twitter: @melodybaetens