24-seat café Folk Detroit opens in Corktown
The long-awaited expansion of Farmer’s Hand market and bodega in Corktown has arrived. Folk Detroit, a 24-seat cafe next door, debuted Wednesday.
Like the Farmer’s Hand, which aims to give Corktown access to local produce and also provide local farmers a place to sell their food seven days a week, Folk will have a strong relationship with area farmers and food producers such as Reilly Craft Creamery, Gus & Grey preserves, Zingerman’s and Sister Pie.
The women behind both businesses are Australian-born Rohani Foulkes and Detroit native Kiki Louya.
“As an extension of the Farmer’s Hand, the food philosophy there is obviously to support local, but also to provide a wholesome, welcoming environment,” said Louya, adding that she wants people to feel at home in her businesses. “I don’t think we’re changing the world through food, but I do think that we can provide people with a place that they can be themselves and that they can also get a really beautiful meal.”
Kitchen manager Emily Cunningham says there is a “playfulness” to the menu at Folk, which offers dine-in service, carryout and grab-and-go items.
“I feel like this place makes food about relationships ... relationships with farmers, relationships with folks in the neighborhood, relationships that the owners have with their own backgrounds, cultural backgrounds,” she said. “It’s pretty, but it’s not pretentious.”
It is very pretty food, too. And with the bright white wall tiles and large windows letting in natural light, it’s hard to resist snapping a photo of the colorful avocado toast with bright pink beet hummus, or the light green matcha-infused milk with expertly swirled heart shapes.
Cunningham, who grew up around farms and ran an organic garden for women’s shelter HAVEN, pointed out to me that the co-owners’ past has influenced the food. A small section of the menu called “family meal sharing” was shaped by owners’ backgrounds.
This includes the Tigress Aussie meat pie, with slow-cooked meat and spices inside a flaky pastry with mash and spring pea sprouts, and Granny Mable’s biscuits and gravy featuring chive and buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy seasoned with alligator pepper (a West African spice) and chipotle.
“It’s a representation of basically us and our culture, and our ethnicity, and our food traditions on the menu and in a plate,” said Foulkes. “We just want the food to not just be healthy for your insides, but also a really beautiful experience when you sit down and you look at it and you eat it and you talk about it.”
There’s a lot about Folk that will wake you up and get you talking. Besides brightly colored dishes and a well-lit room, the cafe also serves a variety of spices that you don’t usually see, such as the piri piri pepper, found on the “big guy,” a buttermilk biscuit with sausage, aioli, greens and herb frittata. Find that on the bread section of the menu, which also features avocado toast, ricotta toast and sardine toast.
The beverage menu includes drip coffee, espresso, lattes, tahini lattes and cortado (espresso and milk), plus teas and milks infused with turmeric, rose or matcha.
Folk Detroit is an ice cream shop, too. Pop in for a scoop of vegan or traditional ice cream from Reilly Craft Creamery.
Besides supporting local businesses, the women behind Folk also believe in supporting their employees. An 18 percent gratuity has been built into the menu price, and tips are split among the staff, who are paid a fair living wage.
Folk Detroit is next to the Farmer’s Hand at 1701 Trumbull in Detroit. It’s open 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon. and Wed.-Fri. and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Closed Tuesdays. Call (313) 290-5849 or visit folkdetroit.com.