Monday, August 25, 2008

Brandywine BLTs - Now, That's A Tomato!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Vertical Caprese

Friday, August 22, 2008

Our First Brandywine!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

First Fork - Forest Grill

After a week of private parties, a community benefit, etc., Birmingham's newest restaurant, Forest Grill, officially opened for dinner on August 14th. Always striving to be at the forkfront when it comes to new restaurants, I decided to go that night to check it out - knowing full well that when word gets out (and the 'official' review appears in The Detroit Free Press) it will be nearly impossible to get a table. Forest Grill is the work of award-winning chef Brian Polcyn - his most famous endeavor being the Five Lakes Grill in nearby Milford. Set on an unpretentious street in what Birmingham calls the "Triangle District" (an area south of Maple and east of Woodward that is being formally developed into business/retail/residential after being a mix of the former all its life - someone discovered it's shaped like a triangle, I guess - as a lifelong Birmingham resident, I am a bit cynical when I see what's going on and read the descriptions of various developments - I did, after all, take piano lessons just up the street on Forest as a kid), Forest Grill should do well in its quest to be a chic neighborhood hangout. It was clear on that first night that word of mouth was in full force - with the crowd a mix of younger professionals and locals who had clearly come as we had to be among the first to see what Polcyn was cooking up for Birmingham. The interior is sleek and modern (I'm not so sure about the outside seating and the metal fencing - "This is Chipotle," my husband exclaimed as we walked up). There is a bar area and open prep area - and a minimum of tables, which is good - the atmosphere is welcoming and intimate. The staff is friendly and attentive without being overbearing or overeager. There's a good selectiono of wines by the glass, and although they were out of the Morgan chard that I requested, they poured a French white for me that was just fine (and they charged me the Morgan price). We started with Caprese and a Beet Salad. The Caprese was fine - nothing out of the ordinary - I would have liked a Burrata instead of the more ordinary and somewhat rubbery garden-variety mozzarella, but the slice of grilled eggplant was a nice touch. The beet salad, by contrast, was truly special. There were these balls of breaded-then-fried goat cheese that were simply to die for. Presentation on both salads was perfect (and to be expected, given Polcyn's reputation for overall excellence). Our entree choices were Lake Trout and Leg of Lamb. The trout was truly delicious. It arrived atop pureed potatoes, artichokes, asparagus, capers and (I think) sun dried tomatoes - in a rich, buttery sauce. I temporarily suspended my sorority girl training, which says you must always leave one bite, and happily devoured the entire thing. The lamb was also superb. Served with a spicy sausage (which I believe was also lamb) on a bed of couscous, the meat was perfectly seasoned and perfectly cooked. Because of my own skills in the kitchen and access to truly gourmet ingredients and top quality meats and produce where we live, my expectations are extremely high when dining out. If it's not as good (or better) than what comes out of my pots and pans, the experience doesn't really interest me. Forest Grill did not disappoint. It is a fabulous addition to our town (and it will give places like Beverly Hills Grill some serious competition), and I look forward to a repeat visit very soon. I just hope the vibe stays as low-key and unpretentious as it was Thursday night - the food definitely deserves to be put on a pedestal, but it's almost-hidden, quiet neighborhood location is what makes Forest Grill even more of a gem.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Cherry Babies Are Ready!