Recently, I sat at the bar on a snowy evening at Birmingham, Michigan's Rugby Grille, located in the Townsend Hotel. Birmingham is one of Detroit's northern suburbs. The restaurant has earned a number of accolades: "Top Ten Best Restaurants in the United States" by Zagat's Restaurant Guide, the coveted AAA-Four Diamond award, the Forbes Travel Guide “Recommended” rating and The Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence” for its wine program. There were definitely patrons dressed for the evening in formal wear, so I would definitely err on the dressy side.
The restaurant prides itself in serving many locally sourced and made in-house dishes; Michigan is considered to have one of the most bio-diverse -- if not the most -- agricultural selections in the country, with more than 300 varieties of food.
I started with one of their house cocktails, incorporating house-made ginger ale. It's very zippy! As I sipped away, I was pleasantly surprised to see matzo as part of the bread service.
Having had dinner earlier, I was in the mood for a few small plates. Detroit was settled by many different ethnic groups, including eastern Europeans . . . my people were part of that crew! Though my direct ancestors subsisted off Tab, I like to think that someone in the distant past ate pierogies. At Rugby Grille, theirs are made with sheep's milk, baby sage and seasonal mushrooms. They have an appealing hit of salt, with rich sheep's milk flavor . . . tasty!
You know the menu is more luxe when fois gras is one of the appetizers. Rugby Grille serves theirs with fruit butter, hazelnuts, pecans, currants, micro greens and toasted brioche, complementing all the nuances of the rich meat.
When I was growing up in the Midwest and certainly, visiting relatives in Detroit, "shrimp cocktail" was the "fancy" treat that I always longed to order and sometimes, I got my wish. It was the special occasion seafood popular in the region. In that spirit, I ordered the chilled prawns with horseradish sauce and man, am I so glad I did! They were gorgeous and tender. That's a very healthy snack, by the way.
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