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Friendly Livernois Tap caters to the family

Molly Abraham
The Detroit News

If a brewpub seems an unlikely place to be family-friendly, the handsome new Livernois Tap, brought to us by Axle Brewing Company, will come as a pleasant surprise. It is attracting Ferndale families to its slightly out-of-the-way location. Yes, it’s in Ferndale, but in a quiet neighborhood just a couple of blocks north of Eight Mile Road. A former industrial plant has been transformed into an airy European-style space, with mostly communal tables, a long bar where the alcoholic options are just beer and cider, and a few high-top tables for two.

Almost as many may be seated on the spacious patio, which also includes communal tables and a fire pit.

There is just one television screen, and according to one of the friendly bartenders, it is not turned on very often. If I am repeating the word “friendly” frequently, it is because everyone from Dan Riley, the proprietor and brewer, to the waiters bringing such dishes as fried bologna corn dogs (yes) and fried green tomatoes to those tables, is happy to chat.

As those dishes suggest, Livernois Tap offers an offbeat menu of snacks, sandwiches and entrees.

The menu was put together by a committee, Grey Ghost principals Joe Giacomino, David and John Vermiglio and Will Lee, who gave a helping hand to Riley and his on-premises chefs, and it works well.

The most popular dish so far, according to executive chef Elliot Patti, is the lamb burger on a roll sprinkled with za-atar, the tangy mideastern spice blend. It also comes with Havarti cheese and a sprinkling of arugula, and the perfect accompaniment is an order of the crisp, twice-fried frites. True lamb lovers should ask for the burger without the cheese, an extraneous addition.

New England shrimp rolls and half chicken are other winners on the single-page menu and a steak has just been added, because so many diners requested it, says Riley. It is the most expensive dish at $26.

The brunch menu includes biscuit and gravy, yes, just one biscuit, along with quiche and pancakes, and the bar provides a take on the mimosa, made with beer and freshly squeezed orange juice.

One drawback is that beer and cider are the only drinks offered. It’s understandable that a small brewery would want to spotlight the beverages made in-house, but having just a small wine list would help in the long run.

That said, the Axle beers are very good. There are eight of them, and they range from golden to dark porter, nicely served in goblet-like glassware.

Livernois Tap

567 Livernois north of 8 Mile Road, Ferndale

Call (248) 284-2422


Rating: ★★ 1/2

Hours: 4-10 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., 4-11 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat., 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.

Prices: Appetizers and sides $4-$11, sandwiches $8-$13, mains $16-$26; Brunch dishes $7-$16.

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: Beer and cider only

Noise level: Low to moderate

Parking: Small attached lot and street

Wheelchair access: No barriers

What the ratings mean

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

★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding