Beer is better outdoors — Bill’s Beer Garden, an alcoholic outgrowth of the Mark’s Carts all-mobile food court, officially opens for the season Thursday, May 2. It has quickly become a favorite outdoor drinking destination. It developed an enthusiastic following during its two 2013 pre-season weekends as well as its successful 2012 inaugural mini-season. Revelers are drawn by a mix of craft beers from such respected Michigan breweries as Bell’s, Dragonmead, New Holland and Rochester Mills. The outdoor beer hall will be open 7-11 p.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 4-9 p.m. Sundays in May and June, all in the parking lot of Downtown Home & Garden, at 218 S. Ashley St., Ann Arbor; 734-369-8001; billsbeergarden.com.
Hot-diggity-dog — We’re a big fan of hot dogs, especially regional hot dogs or creative sausage-bun combinations. That’s why we were so excited to hear about Atomic Dawg, open for about eight months, specializing in inventive hot dogs and sausages created by chef Gary Brunner. At Atomic, sure, you can get your Chicago-style hot dog, “dragged through the garden,” topped with onion, outrageously green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices and sport peppers. It just gets wilder from there, with franks including a Seattle dog and a Milwaukee dog. And then there are such specials as the Szechuan duck sausage and the Buffalo chicken sausage. Or the Laikon: lamb and fig sausage with tomatoes, red onion and cucumber salad, topped with tzatziki sauce. Or maybe you’d just like a comforting grilled cheese sandwich. It’s all there, in an interior soaking in retro charm, at 2705 Coolidge Hwy., Berkley; 248-398-3294.
Appealing presentation — There are some visually interesting goings-on at Toast Birmingham. Some construction in the road out front resulted in some rather ugly plywood walls going up. In an interesting twist, the restaurant obtained permission to use them as canvases for art, creating an “art garden” that everybody can enjoy. Drop in to see a rotating gallery featuring the work of street art from local artists including Rift, Melo, Fel 3k, Malt, Meca, Seks, Sintex and Armee. Unveilings will take place every Thursday, followed with a cocktail party in the restaurant. The pieces will be auctioned off after construction is completed, during the Pierce Street Block Party, slated for July 13. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the art and music programs in the Birmingham School District through the Birmingham Education Foundation. Have a peek, at 203 Pierce St., Birmingham; 248-25-TOAST; eatattoast.com.
Know of any upcoming events? Let us know! Call 313-202-8043 or email [email protected]
PHOTO CAP: Revelers at Bill’s Beer Garden this preseason.
Jerusalem: A Cookbook
by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi
Ten Speed Press, $35
Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi have collaborated on an exceptional cookbook that reflects the diverse cuisines — Muslim, Jewish and Christian — of their native city. You’ll likely not find images of food surpassing these, which, combined with the recipes, make Jerusalem: A Cookbook a must-have book for serious cooks. The photo of the luscious sweet and sour fish looks as good as the dish tastes. To quote the authors: “It takes a giant leap of faith, but we are happy to take it … to imagine that hummus will eventually bring Jerusalemites together, if nothing else will.”
Hearing the term “born again,” rarely makes one think of wine, but that’s about to change. We’ve found platters made of recycled wine bottles that not only look good, but also are inexpensive. Use them for spoon rests, cheese and cracker trays, olives or peppers, crudités — or even as fireproof rests for sturdy candles. They’re kitschy and whimsical while reducing the size of landfills. They’re available in Bordeaux (brown) or Chardonnay (yellow), each accompanied with a spreader for $18 at uncommongoods.com.