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Royal Oak gets two new music-themed restaurants

Dixie Moon Saloon and The Morrie opened last week on Main Street, following the debut of pizza chain Pieology

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

This month downtown Royal Oak’s nightlife scene, known for its high concentration of bars and restaurants, saw some notable changes.

One of the more interesting additions is the Dixie Moon Saloon. Located where Katana Nu-Asian Steakhouse operated until about a year ago at 111 S. Main, this polished new country music bar opened quietly last week.

A brightly-lit wood-trimmed stage is the focal point of the dining area, which is also decked out with flat screen televisions and glitzy chandeliers that Dolly Parton would approve of. Last weekend local country artist Matt Austin performed.

For those not into live country music, however, Dixie Moon Saloon looks like it can function well as a regular restaurant, especially during the week. While the decor and music is theme-heavy, the food menu appeals to a wider audience. Some starters include bacon-wrapped sea scallops served atop johnny cakes, fried pickles, fried green tomatoes, and “armadillo eggs,” which are smoked buffalo chicken fritters.

There are also six kinds of burgers, four salads and entrees like New York strip steak, baby back ribs, lobster mac and cheese and crab cakes.

Somebody did their homework when it came to the whiskey offerings; they have around 60 to choose from. Scotch and bourbon are a the stars here with more than a dozen offerings each, but Dixie Moon also has whiskey from Canada, Ireland, Tennessee and Japan, as well as flavored whiskey like Wild Turkey American Honey and Phillips Union Vanilla. There’s also 16 beers on tap, several more in bottles, wine and a cocktail list.

Also debuting in Royal Oak last week, The Morrie restaurant was jammed Sept. 14 for one of its first nights open. So busy, I was told, that the kitchen had to close early to catch up on the rush.

At 511 S. Main, this spot is going for a mainstream rock ‘n’ roll vibe, with live music, food, a full bar and hip, contemporary decor.

The fare is being billed as “roadhouse cuisine” and the music theme is laid on thick. The menu is broken out in a now-familiar style for restaurants that have live music: of calling appetizers “opening acts,” entrees “headliners” and desserts “encores.” Highlighted items are Kung Pao cauliflower appetizer, chopped salad with grilled chicken, roadhouse ribs and a Nueske’s cheddar bratwurst sandwich dubbed “the roadie.”

Also new in Royal Oak, Pieology Pizzeria opened recently where hip clothing boutique Incognito used to be at 323 S. Main. The concept here is personalized pizzas and custom salads with more than 40 topping options. Pizzas can get one of eight sauces and are stone oven-baked in less than three minutes. They’re open at 11 a.m. daily with late-night service until 3:30 a.m. Thursdays-Saturdays.

Local industry folks get accolades

Congratulations to Rachel Van Til of Mabel Gray in Hazel Park. She was named one of eight Best New Sommeliers of 2016 by Wine and Spirits Magazine. The other soms named were all from east coast or west coast restaurants with the exception of Mariel Wega from + bar in Philadelphia.

Kudos also to Big Rock Chophouse and the Reserve general manager Vera Day Rizer, who was honored by the Michigan Restaurant Association as 2016 Restaurant Manager of the Year. Rizer started her career in 1984 as a bartender; she became general manager of Big Rock in 1996.

The Bourbon Review has teamed up with Four Roses Bourbon to make a list of the 80 Best Bourbon Bars. Butter Run Saloon in St. Clair Shores was the only Michigan business named in the list. The bar will host a bourbon toast to celebrate on Sept. 30.

(313) 222-2402

Twitter: @melodybaetens