Mel Small

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Category: Bites88 Food & Drink3

Year: 201014 200916 200916 200817 200724 200620

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Upper crusty A retro spin on dining at the Ford estate July 21, 2010
Italian history Italian history March 08, 2006

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  • Dinner and show
  • Dinner and show

    Birmingham's Zazios mixes theater and cooking at its chef's table
  • Protein power

    Lockhart's adds slow-style barbecue to Royal Oak's menu
      Lockhart’s, named after a town reputed to be the barbecue capital of Texas, is in Royal Oak opposite City Hall. Handsomely retrofitted on the high-ceilinged first floor of an old bank building, with distressed brick framing huge picture windows that look out at the street traffic at the corner of Third and Williams, it can handle as many as 150 at its bare wooden tables. Diners are greeted with a complimentary mason jar full of spicy pickled vegetables, which is among the most incendiary preparations on the thin paper menu. In his stainless-steel open kitchen, Bubba turns out reasonably priced, hefty portions, with appetizers averaging around $8, sandwiches with one side around $9 and barbecue plates with two sides around $13. Among those appetizers, it is difficult to resist burnt ends, little brisket cubes that have been double-rubbed and double-smoked. The mains, served authentically on paper in metal trays and with a white bread sopper, involve brisket, ribs, pulled pork, sausage, chicken and ham, and combinations thereof, all smoked ever so slowly over local white oak and hickory. One can sample most of the meats in the “special” combo of brisket, half-rack of ribs, sausage and pulled pork. The thin slices of brisket are well-trimmed and tender, as are the ribs. Barbecue is best washed down with beer. All 15 beers on tap ($6.50 a pint) are from Michigan.
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  • Aged to perfection
  • Aged to perfection

    Spanning generations, Vivio's is an Eastern Market crowd-pleaser
      For more than 40 years, the Vivio family has been pouring suds and dishing out thick burgers to an unusually wide variety of neighborhood characters, tailgaters (shuttles provided) and produce shoppers from their venerable building in the heart of Eastern Market. Erected in 1892 to serve as a German community center, it soon became a tavern, placing it among the oldest structures in Detroit to continuously host a watering hole. Virtually all of the familiar items on the long menu are less than $10. Among the appetizers are five mussel choices, the most renowned of which float, along with celery chunks, in Bloody Mary mix, vodka and garlic sauce. Bottles of Vivio’s secret-recipe mix, which certainly perks up the sweet little mollusks, are available for purchase on-site as well as at specialty stores, along with their house-made mustard. The dinner-sized salads run the gamut from Jamaican jerk chicken to a large and crisp taco bowl harboring tangy ground beef tidbits mixed in with green onions, diced tomatoes and cheddar cheese, and accompanied by sour cream and a rather mild salsa. As for heartier fare, the burgers — cheese, bacon, Sante Fe, Cajun, bleu and the healthier salmon, veggie and buffalo — that come with a mound of slightly undercooked fries, rank among the city’s better renditions of that staple. To wash all this down, Vivio’s provides 12 beers on tap and 10 bottles, highlighted by Castello, a new-to-this-country, refreshing, light Italian lager ($3).
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  • High-toned pie

    Pizzeria Biga sports special dough and small plates
      Biga is a pizzeria plus — pizza is the only main course, but Del Signore’s menu includes home-fashioned charcuterie and cheeses from Bacco, six attractive salads and a handful of small-plates palate-teasers. Among the salads ($5.50 to $9.50), navel orange is a keeper, with orange sections floating in oil accompanied by olives, onion, and parsley. The more familiar chop salad with tidbits of hearts of palm, artichokes, egg, tomato, cucumber, onion, gorgonzola and ceci beans bursts with freshness. The crusty house-made Italian bread that comes with is exemplary. All of this is the prelude to the pizza and its fermented starter dough (biga) composed of a carefully calibrated blend (“an ancient method”) of flour, purified water and sea salt, all kept at 68 degrees. The resulting dough serves as the foundation for 12-inch ($9-$14) and 18-inch ($14.50-$22) round, thin pizzas that can be selected from a dozen house creations, as well as a nearly infinite number of self-designed pies, with toppings as exotic as duck prosciutto, lardo (pig fat), rapini and vinegar peppers. Those who are red-sauce-averse will be happy with the white-pie options. The desserts, highlighted by house-made gelati (try the cappuccino) and the more-than-perfunctory cannoli, are another of Biga’s strengths.
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