Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hearty fare

West Bloomfield's Allegro offers rich Russian flavors

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Though the menu bills the place as “European,” Allegro is patronized mostly by people from the former Soviet Union, though the staff is more than hospitable to the occasional interloper. On the menu are herring and potatoes, blini with caviar, pilimeni (veal dumplings), smoked fish, sturgeon, and lamb, chicken or pork shashlik (marinated and on skewers). (Lamb chops, steaks, salmon and shrimp scampi are the nods to more standard fare.) Given geography, you’d expect Russian cuisine to be hearty, and it is. Chicken Kiev is a pound of chicken breast wrapped around a chunk of butter, then breaded and fried. Beef Stroganoff has a rich mahogany sauce, oddly sprinkled liberally with cilantro. Many appetizers are more expensive than the very reasonable entrées (almost all under $15), but that’s because they come in mass quantities. Allegro is open only Thursday-Sunday and hosts many large groups and private parties, so call ahead for reservations. Needless to add, vodka can be had.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oakland bounty

Keego Harbor's Modern Food & Spirits is worth the drive

Posted By on Wed, Sep 17, 2008 at 12:00 AM

With a "depression-sensitive" price structure, you might almost forget what you paid for the gas to get out to Modern. Run by veteran restaurateurs, this is a comfortable eatery where working stiffs can afford the high-quality, sophisticated cuisine. Decorated with amusing mid-century-modern furnishings, the small room can accommodate about 75 at tables and 20 at the handsome bar. Dinners, which include unusually generous portions of far-more-than-perfunctory soups or salads, average around $18 with none, except for daily specials, breaking the $20 barrier. Nine or so entrées are all attractively presented, often with inventive accoutrements, and diners will find a mastery of fish dishes as well as an accomplished New York strip. Vegetarians will have to construct their dinners from the generous appetizers, soups and salads, which should not be much of a challenge. Well-selected wine list; affordable beers; great desserts. Though the bare tables and laid-back ambience suggest informality, the servers are highly skilled professionals. Alas, if only the view of Cass Lake across the road were more prominent.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

True East

Posted By on Wed, Sep 10, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Sharaku is the most authentic Japanese restaurant in metro Detroit, offering 25 daily-changing appetizers, including catches of the day, and a relatively short list of entrées. As in Japan, the decor is spare, blond wood, and meals are served with a minimum of pretension — just artful arrangements of the food and garnishes themselves. For sushi, you may want to branch out and try rolls of dried squash, burdock, ume shiso (green tea), natto (fermented soybeans) or orange clams.The chef’s choice “sushi deluxe” will come with 10 lovely nigiri pieces plus a roll, also with crunchy pickles of radish turned bright yellow and cucumber now purple, and a delicious opaque broth with the most delicate of scallions, still crisp. At the back of your menu, look for a long list of liquors (shochu) distilled from different grains: sweet potatoes, barley, rice, buckwheat or potatoes (the most popular). Takeout available for sushi only; party platters also available (minimum $25 order).

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