French café to open in Birmingham
Come Friday, diners will have a new French restaurant option in downtown Birmingham.
Zack Sklar, chef and owner of Peas & Carrots Hospitality, will open Au Cochon at 5 p.m. that day. Located at 260 N. Old Woodward Ave. in Birmingham, the concept’s debut will bring the total Peas & Carrots empire to five restaurants in Michigan and Chicago.
The menu, developed by Sklar and Executive Chef Mark Barbarich, will explore upscale French café cuisine.
“There’s not really any French restaurants in the area, said Sklar, 29, who graduated from North Farmington High School before attending and completing the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. “It’s really approachable French food with an American Twist. It’s going to be funky, not snooty.”
The restaurant will feature an open-air kitchen where diners can watch as the food is made. Customers also will experience views into the pasty kitchen, he said.
Prior to the Friday public opening, invited guests will have the opportunity to experience Au Cochon on Thursday. Proceeds from the evening’s food and beverage sales will be donated to the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD), Michigan Humane Society, Oakland Bar Foundation and North Farmington High School.
Appetizers will range from from $7 to $16, Sklar said. The appetizer menu will include seafood dishes such as shrimp, mussels and oysters; pomme frittes, topped with aioli and ketchup; fromage blanc, a fresh cheese served with truffle honey, lemon and toast points; and gougère, a baked pastry with ham, warm Gruyere mousse and mustard.
Salads, sides and items including a half chicken, a cheeseburger, a 24-ounce rib-eye steak, a skate meuniere and a salmon and chickpea crepe also will be offered. Entrees will range from $13 to $48.
Sklar opened Social Kitchen & Bar in Birmingham in 2012. That was followed by the opening of MEX in Bloomfield Township in 2013 and Beau’s Grillery in Bloomfield Hills last year. In August, he opened Bernie’s Lunch & Supper in Chicago. He also owns a catering company he started while in culinary school.
The restaurant will have a full bar and focus on craft and classic cocktails. . In addition, Au Cochon will offer 17 wines by the glass, 60 by the bottle and six for dessert. Diners also can enjoy a wide selection of bottled beers.
“Zack and I are extremely excited about the menu we created for Au Cochon,” Barbarich said in a release. “While it definitely includes some classic French favorites, it also offers our diners a few items that they may not be able to enjoy elsewhere.”
Designed by Chicago-based 555 International, the 1,500-square-foot restaurant will seat a total of 112, including 12 on the patio and 20 at the bar. The design features copper, brass and steel materials throughout, including in the bar and on the ceiling.
The 2,500-square-foot open kitchen near the front of the restaurant will be shared with a sister Peas & Carrots concept, Arthur Avenue, an Italian restaurant which is slated to also open in Birmingham this year. With a name inspired by the Bronx street that is home to numerous Italian eateries, featured dishes will include pastas, subs and cannolis.
Between the two restaurants, Peas & Carrots will employ approximately 100 people. By the end of the year Sklar expects to employ 600, total.
Au Cochon will be open for dinner 5 p.m.- midnight Mondays through Sundays with the bar staying open until 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
The website aucochon.com should be up and running in about a week, Sklar said.