Terrific reception — Tap, the sports bar inside the MGM Grand Detroit casino, is without a doubt the city’s poshest sports bar. But the competition doesn’t end with the games on the bar’s many televisions; the action in the kitchen is focused on keeping the fare good enough to compete for diners on its own merits. Think about it: Tap’s menu has more than 80 items, all cooked to standards you’d expect in a casino fine-dining establishment. Some of the specials are surprisingly creative, including the restaurant’s new “TV dinners” served on “Throwback Thursdays.” The idea was born when chef Fershone Steen was rubbing elbows with his fans (that is to say, his customers) one day. Steen says he always wants to “try something different and exciting. Things you won’t find in an average sports bar.” He says he wanted to come up with “something hearty and old-school for the guys. … I was joking with them, ‘I’m going to start making you TV dinners.’ And they laughed. And I did it for them one day, and some of the guests saw them and so I started making them.” Now, there’s no molded aluminum in Steen’s creations: They’re plated in a ceramic tray that mocks the old Swanson plates. And Steen bites those 1950s culinary signatures — he even offers “Salisbury steak” with mashed potatoes, green beans, a dinner roll, and peach cobbler dessert — but turns up the skill, resulting in something grander. And why should Steen be sheepish about referencing TV dinners? Heck, Tap probably has more TVs than several bars put together. Curious? Drop in this Thursday for a half-barbecue chicken with cornbread and braised collards, mac and cheese, and cherry almond pie. It’s inside the MGM Grand Detroit, 1777 Third St., Detroit.
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