There will be tons of awesome food to indulge in at the annual Ford Arts, Beats & Eats festival in Royal Oak this year – everything from corn dogs to elephant ears. But let's not forget the fantastic array of restaurants that line the streets of metro Detroit, as well. And of the dozens of establishments that will have booths present at AB&E, we've hand-selected a few for you to "tour" before you get to the fest. Do your research and choose wisely. (Oh, and hold on to those food tickets each day – you know you're going to have leftovers.)
This will be Gemmayze's first appearance at Ford Arts, Beats & Eats – and we couldn't be more excited. Royal Oak's most happening Lebanese restaurant will no doubt be bringing some of their haute Middle Eastern cuisine to the Washington Street extravaganza. No matter what they bring, you can be sure that it'll be homemade using family recipes that have been in the Hajjar family for decades. Given their proximity to the festival, you could also swing by the restaurant after your time there is over to sample some more dishes off their menu. If you're feeling adventurous, try the kibbe nayee, a raw lamb dish that must be experienced at least once.
For as bustling as Royal Oak is at 2 a.m., the late night food options are somewhat limited. Fear not! Kouzina will be opening in mid-September in the old Zumba space on Main Street (if you didn't know, Zumba moved directly across the street). Their focus will be "Greek street food," meaning gyros, spinach pies and salad. For most in the metro Detroit area, gyros means either lamb or chicken. Kouzina will have both of those along with a third more intriguing type. We haven't tasted the magical third gyros, so we can't divulge much detail, suffice it to say most us will be happier than a pig in mud. Regardless, swing by the Kouzina stand and say hello to Royal Oak's newest late night dining option (they'll be open untl 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday).
One word should come to your mind when you hear Gaucho – MEAT. The Brazilian steakhouse is known for its tremendous selection of fire grilled meats. Visiting the Northville location is like a carnivore's dream come true with nearly a dozen meats to choose from, Gaucho is not a place for vegetarians. At Arts, Beats & Eats you can bet that Gaucho will be showing off their meat. Whether it's beef, pork or chicken, the protein will be expertly cooked and seasoned to perfection.
Beans & Cornbread
Being in the Midwest, there isn't a plethora of true southern cooking to choose from. Beans & Cornbread, though, is one place with true southern soul food. From their fried chicken to macaroni and cheese to peach cobbler, everything at Beans & Cornbread is good for the soul. Since Beans & Cornbread serves brunch on the weekends, it is quite possible that fried chicken and waffles could be on the Arts, Beats & Eats menu. Although it might sound strange, the combination of salty, crunchy and juicy fried chicken sitting atop a hot buttery waffle and drizzled with maple syrup is brunch lover's fantasy.
Hudsonville Ice Cream
Hudsonville has been making ice cream for many decades (since 1926 to be exact), so it's no surprise that they'll have a big presence at Ford Arts, Beats & Eats. In years past, the weather has been warm, so ice cream is an ideal treat to end your day of sampling. Hudsonville does have an impressive line of ice creams, so no matter which ones they bring with them, they will no doubt be some of the best ice cream you've tasted. One of their more unique and locally relevant flavors is Tiger Traxx, which is vanilla ice cream studded with chocolate covered pretzel baseballs and a thick fudge ribbon. Sweet, salty and creamy all living together in perfect harmony – does it get any better than that?
Polish Village Café
Hot off their appearance on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Polish Village Café is bringing the taste and culture of Hamtramck to Royal Oak. If you've never experienced Polish cuisine, you're missing out on true European comfort food. Pierogi are dumplings filled with various items, most famously potato and cheese. These beauties are ideal for Ford Arts, Beats & Eats because they are easily eaten by hand. Served with sour cream, pierogi are a quintessential street food. Other menu possibilities include city chicken (which isn't chicken at all) and golabki (stuffed cabbage) or any of the other dishes off the PVC menu. No matter what is on the menu, if a combo is available, order that and try a little of everything – you can thank me later.
Royal Oak's favorite creperie recently expanded into downtown Birmingham, but for Ford Arts, Beats & Eats, the What Crepe stand will be right in front of the restaurant on Washington Street. Although a simple crepe with a squeeze of lemon and some powdered sugar is on the menu, What Crepe's focus is much more substantial than that. Crepes filled with rib-eye steak, grilled chicken, bananas, strawberries, Nutella or really anything you can imagine comprise the menu. Take it from me, don't miss out on their orange-jalapeno sauce, a sweet and spicy splash of heaven.
Although Bastone is known for its beer and its food, their beer won't be available at Ford Arts, Beats & Eats (unless you mosey over to Main Street and grab a pint at the restaurant). However, don't be shocked when Chef Robert Young's food knocks you off your feet. His inspired twists on Belgian cuisine necessitate tasting. Even something as simple as pommes frites (French fries) are taken to a new level. If the frites are available, by all means order them, but don't stop there. Rest assured anything on Young's menu is worth your tickets. | RDW