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Jun 17, 2011 05:49 AM

Forest Grill--Birmingham, MI [DTW]

Earlier this week, my wife and I had the pleasure of eating at the Forest Grill. I have wanted to eat here for quite some time. We finally found ourselves in the area after making the drive from Cleveland. I have been a big fan of Brian Polcyn for a while. We have eaten at the old Five Lakes and I am an amateur charcuterist, using his book as an invaluable reference.

The meal naturally started with the charcuterie platter, which included the house cured prosciutto, lardo and pepperoni. Accompanying the platter were some marinated olives, roasted vegetables with basil and a caponata. The lardo was decadent; pairing it with the caponata on a slice of the bread provided cut the richness of the fat and provided a great balance. The prosciutto was as good as I have had. The pepperoni was amazing, the right amount of spice. I was amazed at what the crew at Forest Grill can do with their charcuterie.

For entrees, I ordered the Veal Cheeks served with gnocchi and wilted spinach. The cheeks were braised to perfection; they absolutely melted in my mouth. The gnocchi were light and fluffy with a crisp exterior. The dish was a wonderful example of how to take a tough, under looked part of an animal and transform it into something spectacular. My wife ordered the Diver Scallops and Pork Belly. This seemed like a strange combination, but it worked very well together. The scallops were seared perfectly. The pork belly was a work of art, meltingly tender underneath a crunchy exterior.

To end the meal, we indulged in a couple of desserts our waiter recommended. The Ricotta Cheese Tart was described as sort of a deconstructed cannoli, which worked as an accurate description. Topped with sliced fresh strawberries, the ricotta was mixed with chocolate and housed in a graham cracker crust and garnished with pistachios. Our waiter described the Cinnamon Brioche Bread Pudding, saying it was the chef's take on bread pudding, a dish he can't stand. This intrigued me to see how the chef would innovate on this classic. Replacing the traditional raisins with dark chocolate proved to be an excellent choice. The pudding was topped with vanilla ice cream, which melted quickly. My wife fought over taking bites of each dessert, it was a toss up as to our favorite.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent meal. Service was efficient, courteous and knowledgeable. For the two of us with a couple drinks and tip, we walked out the door for $150, an excellent value. Given my interest in charcuterie, this would be a place I make the 2.5 hour drive again. If I lived in the area, this would be a regular stop.

Forest Grill Restaurant
735 Forest Ave Ste 100, Birmingham, MI 48009

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  1. So great you loved this place! Thanks for the wonderful write-up. I have been there for the "stimulus lunch" aka lower priced and it was just wonderful.

    I hope you'll post next time you come!

    1. I just stumbled across this (admittedly OLD) write-up on Boots In The Oven blog about Forest Grill.:
      Their description of the pork belly with ramps and fried duck egg alone had me wanting to book a weekend in Detroit just to eat here. (Never mind that entree is not currently on the menu...
      )Has anyone been recently? Is Forest Grill maintaining their rank as a standout of Michigan dining?

      7 Replies
      1. re: tokyo

        They're still on top of their game as far as I've heard...but I haven't been personally, no.

        1. re: boagman

          I was there last summer (2nd time) and with some very dear friends we had a total sampler that let the server go wild. Braised, charcuterie, veg surprises, a well cooked pork chop, no shellfilsh as one is allergic but otherwise the full gamut.

          Both JanPrimus and I have been students of Polcyn at Schoolcraft and his hand is evident but the Exec Chef David Gilbert is present and en pointe. (He also came to the classes with Polcyn and this dude can cook). Still a destination resto for Friday shopping and then the Book Cadillac for Roast and the concert then gambling. Best of Detroit for sure. BTW the Townsend pillows are fantastic (yes, I only live 1.5 miles from there but still....).... tips for Rainsux...

          BTW": they have a great patio with minor traffic if you like al fresco.

          1. re: goatgolfer

            I actually went to Schoolcraft before he taught. I have had the pleasure to sit in a few of his classes though in the last few years. Currently I work with tons of different Charcuterie people all over the US.

            Next weekend I am going to be helping in a UCLA's students thesis movie about Mangalitsa pigs. We are all going to be having a dinner at Forest Grill after with one of the pigs we are going to slaughter. Look forward to it...

            1. re: JanPrimus

              I cannot even begin to describe my jealousy!!!!!

          2. re: boagman

            Enjoyed a lunch last Monday at Forest Grill. I must admit I was surprised that the restaurant was virtually empty. The service, of course, was top notch and two of us enjoyed the Stimulus menu - though had to ask for it. The Chicken Paillard was seasoned to perfection, pounded thin and was fork tender. It rested on a bed of colorful greens with a tart vinagrette. Delicious! The onion soup had a crown of puff pastry which was a nice touch. The broth was not too salty - but very hearty! The bread pudding was fabulous as it was blended with a stripe of dark chocolate fudge. Truly inspired. The Chef was meeting with his staff at another table... Wondered what the discussion was all about... The lunch experience was probably the best "deal" in town and worth a 30 minute drive for me!

            1. re: Oakland Gal

              We had birthday charcuterie and wine there within the last week - still very good, but I was also surprised at how un-busy they were on a Thursday night. Great service, great charcuterie...I hope they stick around and the generally higher price point doesn't turn too many people off.

              That said, we're more apt to get "regular" charcuterie at Toasted Oak due to closer proximity and greater variety.

              1. re: HillsofBeverly

                I agree with the sentiment. I go in and it's pretty empty and then I feel guilty about pinching pennies, so I order that extra wine, and not the cheapest one. I end up spending above my budget and later resist going back as soon as I'd truly like. Counterproductive cycle. I only live twelve minutes away and I admire the concept, but...

        2. I enjoyed the Forest Grill last summer - the only thing I can remember that I ordered was the it must have been good.

          1. I'm going to be in Ann Arbor the second week in September and it sounds like the OP and I have very similar tastes and experiences (form Cleveland, too). I'm planning to make the trip to the Forest Grill one night. Any suggestions for otehr nights in or around AA?

            1 Reply
            1. re: conradical

              My experience was much like the posters above. Not surprisingly the charcuterie board was top notch with buttery pork belly, peppery salami, tart soprasessa and floral saucisson sec. I also sampled (ate almost every bit) of the prok belly and scallops which I found a bit rich - maybe because I was full of air dried delights. It was a Thursday night but at 8 and almost empty :(