Side Dish: Six things going on in Detroit drinking and dining this week

What's popping upstairs — You may not know the name Steven Reaume, but if you're a fan of the fare at Foran's Grand Trunk Pub, especially their elaborate weekend brunches, he's the main man to thank. In addition to managing the pub's kitchen, he's also working for Grand Trunk owner Tim Tharp managing the upstairs space at Checker Bar, which Tharp purchased last year. That opens up a whole new batch of possibilities for Reaume, who tells us, "We're taking the second floor and doing a venue up there right now that we're calling 'Pop,' and every Thursday we're doing pop-ups that mainly involve food, but we're also incorporating art and music into those events." Upcoming events include "Chops," happening Thursday, Feb. 5, featuring a fixed price dinner by chef Arthur Harris, including lamp chops rubbed with seven spices and served with a mint jelly, as well as "wild dirty rice" and "honey-glazed tricolor carrots" with a chocolate mousse for a sweet finish. On Feb. 12, it'll be "Detroit Delhi" from chef Jesse Knott. Further events sound no less interesting, with "The Cook's Crossing: New American Midwest Meets Global Flavors" by chef Nate Bonkowski on Feb. 19, "The Lava Cake Bar" with Chez Chloe on Feb. 26, and "Bolti: An Eclectic Meatball Pop-Up" with Meghan Shaw and Sam Beurger on March 5. More details are available via, where upcoming Pop events are featured at the bottom of the main page.

Port-au-Prince pop-up — Speaking of pop-ups and Checker Bar, Motor City Wine will be hosting another of its Sundaylicious pop-ups, this time with pop-up chef Christian Noel, who also works in the kitchen at Checker. In fact, he'll be preparing the dishes in their certified kitchen. It's a menu of Haitian food, a la carte, along with jazz on the turntables thanks to Jeff Kopko. No word on what the individual dishes should cost, but bring $10 or $20 cash, and it should do you. It all happens from 5 to 10 p.m., on Sunday, Feb. 8, at Motor City Wine, 1949 Michigan Ave., Detroit; 313-483-7283;

Heavy stuff — Call it the other Detroit pop-up: It's the one at St. Cece's on Tuesdays. They have an interesting one scheduled for Feb. 10. It's called "Heavy Nettles," and it's the brainchild of one of the badasses from the kitchen at PJ's Lager House, and it will feature some vegan options and plenty of locally sourced food, reportedly on the lower end of the spectrum money-wise, in that $10 or $15 should get you something good. (Hope they take the sting out of those nettles first!) It runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10, at St. Cece's, 1426 Bagley Ave., Detroit; 313-962-2121;

Sardines for dinner — No, we don't mean having actual canned sardines for dinner. These sardines are musical, with blustery brass, a rhythm section led by a piano virtuoso, and fronted by a one-of-the-boys gal who sings in both English and French. But there's actual food, right? Yes, a dinner from the pop-up folks at Union Joints, fit for 50 celebrants, with such delicacies as spicy scallop fresh roll with honey Sriracha mayo, duck confit with Michigan cherry chutney and Amish blue sour cream, farro bulgogi with Korean barbecue sauce, and Michigan maple pudding. There will also be such creative drinks as a "Bootsy Collins," composed of Bulleit bourbon, Carpano Antica vermouth, and house-brandied cherries. It's $60 for the dinner and show, and the doors open at 5:30 p.m., the dinner begins at 6 p.m., and the hot-stepping jazz show starts at 6:45 p.m., on Monday, Feb. 9, at Jazz Café, 350 Madison, Detroit; call 313-887-8501 for reservations;;

Lovers' feasts — We're already starting to see Valentine's Day menus coming in, and some of the most tempting bids comes from the restaurants at the MGM Grand Detroit casino and hotel. The Palette Dining Studio, where "buffet" would be too humble a word to describe the fixings, is hosting a big lunch and a big dinner on the big day, with roasted beef sirloin at the carving station and such entrées as grilled tilapia filet, chicken Parmesan, breaded pork cutlets, and more, including raspberry Napoleon for dessert. Lunch is 11 a.m.-4 p.m. ($22) and dinner is 4 p.m.-midnight ($28). Elsewhere in the casino, Wolfgang Puck Steak will host a grand five-course affair Friday-Sunday, Feb. 13-15. We can't print everything on the fixed price menu here, but it runs from caviar to seafood to steak, lamb, duck, or fish, with a special chocolate lover's dessert. It's $85 per person, and runs 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 5-10 p.m. Sunday, at MGM Grand Detroit, 1777 Third St., Detroit; reservations encouraged at 313-564-1644;

It's called vodka — Not to toot our own horn too much, but we do have an event coming up this weekend called Vodka Vodka. You know the drill: Russian-themed, premier vodka-tasting event, swanky atmosphere, newly located at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, yadda-yadda-yadda. Tickets are still available at, and it's just $40 to get you in ($15 for designated drivers). Don't say we didn't alert you ...

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