That self-deprecating title is only partially tongue-in–cheek. The spin-off of Grey Ghost is not as ambitious as its neighbor across the-street, but it manages to present an intriguing menu of “bites and snacks” that is just right for the much smaller quarters.

   And how convenient it must be for principals Joe Giacomino, John and David Vermiglio and Will Lee of Four Man Ladder group to have a place to send the overflow to.

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   Just one problem. Second Best is already so popular after barely a month in existence that it doesn’t need any help. It has its own crowd.

   The quarters, done up retro fashion in wood, mirror and faux Tiffany lamps, opens onto the street scene via roll-up windows. It is the perfect pairing for the more ambitious Grey Ghost.

    The fare from chef Eric Sanderson’s kitchen is served on crisp red–and-white paper liners in plastic baskets, but that doesn’t mean it is fast food.

     It’s stylish and imaginative, as demonstrated by the seven-layer deviled eggs atop a tortilla, with greens, tomato, olives, avocado, iceberg lettuce and sour cream.

     Other choices include pulled pork hush puppies, ramen noodle salad and at the top of the price list, steak tartare teamed with potato skins.

      Also at $13 is the fried chicken sandwich, pieces of satisfyingly crunchy chicken teamed with bread-and-butter pickles and celeriac slaw -a definite upgrade on coleslaw -  atop a brioche bun.

     The heirloom tomato grilled cheese, also on brioche, includes the spicy little strips of deep fried onion known as tobacco onions for their deep color.

      Sharable dishes include shrimp dip. Desserts aren’t forgotten – although one of the two is actually drink - a Boston cooler (vanilla ice cream and ginger ale) spiked with bourbon. This is after all, essentially a bar but one with a definite flair of its own.


Second Best Detroit

 42 Watson, east of Woodward, Detroit

(313) 315-5077

Rating: ★★ 1/2

Hours: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. nightly

Prices: $6-$13

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: Full bar

Noise level: Moderate

Parking: Valet and street

Wheelchair access: No barriers

What the ratings mean

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

★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding

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