Review: Ford’s Garage more than just burgers

Molly Abraham
The Detroit News

You might think the very first restaurant dedicated to Henry Ford’s legacy would have been in the automotive pioneer’s backyard. But no, Florida came first.

It took four years for Ford’s Garage to turn up in Dearborn after opening in Fort Myers, Florida, where Ford also spent a lot of time.

There are now a total of seven restaurants, with the blessings of the Ford Motor Co., with many more on the drawing board.

It is apparently a franchise whose time has come.

And as long as a diner is not too jaded to enjoy such details as shop rag napkins and gas pump lever door handles, the colorful car-centric setting is upbeat and stops just short of overdone. So relax and enjoy it — especially the old black-and-white photographs, and the two restored cars, a Model A and a Model T positioned above each of the two bars, that add authenticity to the scene.

And while the menu might best be described as “fun food,” it is really better than that may suggest, thanks to a highly experienced local chef, Darin Thompson, in charge of the culinary assembly line in Dearborn. Prime burgers head the list, but there are many other dishes that stand out, including a 6-ounce Black Angus filet mignon that comes with trimmings, lobster mac and cheese and an impressive number of fresh vegetables and salads among the sides.

Among the hamburger variations is one that the chef says is his particular favorite — the Estate Burger — made with open range bison, with garlic/bacon aioli to add a sweet and savory flavor. Bison may be substituted for Black Angus in any of the dozen burger variations from the patty melt on toasted rye to the mushroom Swiss on brioche bun and the spicy High Octane, so called because it is sparked with jalapeno peppers. And desserts are definitely of the tempting variety, typified by hot fudge cram puff and rum cake.

Service is appropriately friendly by the young crew in mechanics shirts and dark jeans.

The bar backs up the menu with 150 craft beers, as well as premium liquor, with less emphasis on wine, but a decent selection.

Chef Thompson was recruited by Michigan franchise holder Billy Downs, and his resume includes Laffrey’s Steaks on the Hearth, Fox & Hounds and Red Run Golf Club, as well as several other local spots. Downs has plans to put together four more Ford’s Garages in Michigan.

Ford’s Garage

21367 Michigan, Dearborn

Call: (313) 752-3673


Hours: 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thurs.,

10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.

Prices: Appetizers $4.95-$11.95, salads $7.95-$11.95,

burgers $10.95-$12.95, entrees $12.95-$22.95,

desserts $4.95-$6.95.

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: Full bar with an emphasis on 150 beers

Noise level: Moderate to high.

Wheelchair access: No barriers

Parking: Attached lot

What the ratings mean

★ — routine ★★ — good ★★ 1/2 — very good

★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding