Seven things you need to know about Detroit dining this week 

South African way — If you haven't had South African wines, you're missing a whole different continent of flavor. It's sort of like Australia, if it were settled by the Dutch and populated with ostrich instead of kangaroos, yet still producing good, affordable New World wines. And next week affords an excellent opportunity to taste them, at O'Mara's Irish Restaurant of all places, along with dishes inspired by the African country. That's six wines, along with such appetizers as ostrich carpaccio, chilled beef borscht, piri piri calamari, and such entrées as curried lamb, seared tuna with papaya salad, and roast ostrich, with a dessert of banana bread pudding with mango ice cream. The tasting begins at 6:30 p.m. March 26 at 2555 12 Mile Rd., Berkley; $55 per person plus tax and tip; reservations at 248-399-6750;

Big bunnies, big eggs — Looking for something to go over big this Easter? You might check out what's on offer at MGM Grand Detroit's Palette Dining Studio. The buffet-style eatery is selling handmade chocolate Easter bunnies and eggs that could be the perfect gift for the chocolate-lover in your life. The deluxe offerings range from a large chocolate egg for $35, to an extra large egg for $500. Each comes in its own basket, with grass, jelly beans, and chocolate eggs, all wrapped up with a bow. It's quite an undertaking, as the kitchen's executive pastry chef, Orlando Santos, will supervise the use of almost two tons of chocolate. Call 313-465-1777 for details and orders, or drop in at 1777 Third St., Detroit.

Marche right in — In just five action-packed years, the Marche du Nain Rouge has gone from scrappy and semi-spontaneous happening to established and anticipated event. How better to tell than the fact that local businesses are using the occasion to remind revelers that they'll offer special events, deals, parties, and more. The businesses include stores, boutiques, and shops, but eateries and bars include Go! Sy Thai, Great Lakes Coffee, HopCat, La Feria, West Village's Red Hook, which will be operating out of Motor City Brewing Works, and Traffic Jam & Snug. The parade starts at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 22 at the corner of West Canfield Street and Second Avenue, Detroit; learn more at

Pints and puzzlers — Looking for a good trivia night? There's one on Tuesday in Royal Oak. It's called Geeks Who Drink, and it's a classic pub quiz, with eight rounds of eight questions each, played by teams of as many as six people, led by a quizmaster. It starts at 7 p.m. Tueaday, March 31 at Monk Beer Abbey, 109 E. Fifth St., Royal Oak. For more information, see

Charting Chartreuse — Buzz continues to build for Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails, the restaurant Sandy Levine of the Oakland plans to open in the Park Shelton later this year. Late last year, Levine tapped Schoolcraft-trained Douglas Hewitt Jr. to head up the kitchen; if his recent pop-up is any indication, the menu will go in some very interesting directions. The latest event saw Hewitt team up with the Root for a menu that included smoked trout cigar, braised lamb with vanilla grits, roasted grapes, mushroom confit, and ciopollini onion. Keep watching Chartreuse's page,, for the latest.

Pile on the pork — POP, the weekly pop-up space above Checker Bar, will host a porktastic pop-up next week. It will be from Rogue Estate barbecue, and the menu will feature pulled pork sandwiches, a barbecue banh mi, sliced beef brisket, pork rib tips, "dragon wings," and more. For details, see and scroll down to the bottom.

Institutional bias — What is it with Downriver and cheesesteaks? Southgate has Joey's Famous Philly Cheesesteaks & More, and now Wyandotte has a new business staking its claim. It's called the Cheesesteak Institute of America, and it's got a fun history: For 30-plus years, it was a family-owned and -operated custom mobile kitchen hawking cheesesteaks at festivals and fairs. Now, owner-operator Greg Arnoldy and his family have opened the doors to their first official brick-and-mortar in bustling downtown Wyandotte. Why the "institute"? Because their mission is educating the public about the Philadelphia-born creation. You can drop in at 3037 Biddle Ave., Wyandotte (734-530-3037), but you get a pretty good sense of the fun involved just with a gander at the website, at

Know of any food or drink news? Let us know! Email or call 313-202-8043.

More by Michael Jackman

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