Lately it seems as though all the latest restaurant developments have been in the downtown and Corktown neighborhoods of Detroit, but there’s plenty of action farther up the Woodward corridor, too. In Ferndale, four new bars and restaurants plan to open their doors over the next few months, adding up to 500 more seats in restaurant capacity to the small inner-ring suburb of roughly 20,000 residents.
A new restaurant in the former Torino space from chef Matthew Baldridge, the Conserva has been hosting soft openings the last few weekends and has expanded this week to Wednesday, Thursday and Friday dinner service and Saturday snack and bar service.
Baldridge recently sold his stake in the growing Atomic Chicken chain to focus on getting the Ferndale restaurant up-and-running.
As with Torino before it, limited storage and refrigeration has been an issue in the space. Baldridge said health department rules forced him to rein in his original vision of serving mostly preserved food in jars reheated in water baths, opting instead for a small menu of rotating dishes.
During a recent Friday preview, the bill of fare included duck fat popcorn; smoked pork belly with rum raisins; a warm avocado filled with egg yolk and preserved onion; and a Middle Eastern-inspired octopus dish heady with za’atar, diced cucumber and creamy garlic paste.
Baldridge hopes to officially open soon but is waiting on final health department approval.
(109 seats total — 83 inside with private dining plus 26 on the patio.)
201 E. Nine Mile; theconserva.com
A block from the Conserva, this 10,000-square-foot bar, restaurant and live music venue springs to life Nov. 17 when it hosts Cornmeal, a bluegrass jam band out of Chicago.
Co-owner Thom Bloom told the Free Press last month that he hopes to open the restaurant portion of the 200-seat facility shortly after the first concert.
Diners can expect a seasonal New American menu from Miles McVay, executive chef at Bloom’s Toast restaurants in Ferndale and Birmingham.
Otus Supply is currently hiring staff. Job applications can be found on the restaurant’s website.
345 E. Nine Mile; otussupply.com
“I think at this point it’s looking more realistic to open after the holidays to make sure we’re in a good place,” Boyer said.
The exterior of the former storage building recently received a new paint job and construction is ongoing inside, with drywall set to go up later this week.
But the big news out of the Voyager camp is the announcement that the pair will be opening another concept on the ground floor of 28 Grand, a new micro-loft development in Detroit’s Capitol Park from Dan Gilbert.
Boyer said he couldn’t offer many details on the new concept, which he noted is still at least a year away from launch.
“It will be a lunch-focused fast-casual eatery,” he said. “It will be focused on one thing, we’re just not necessarily ready to share what that is yet.”
The plan is to “go deep on one particular item,” Boyer said.
“We’re more interested in going deep creatively on singular topics than trying to be something for everybody and casting a super wide net.”
600 Vester; facebook.com/voyagerferndale
Livernois Tap & Brewery
Expect big things from Livernois Tap, a European beer hall-style microbrewery and restaurant that will serve as taproom for Axle Brewing Co.
Headed to Livernois just north of 8 Mile, the 10,000-square-foot facility will house a brewery with 12 to 15 beers and ciders on draft, 85 seats for diners and imbibers inside and an additional 65 in the seasonal beer garden outside, plus Axle’s administrative offices.
Over the summer Axle hired a new head brewer, Adam Beratta, a repeat gold medalist in the World Expo of Beer and the World Beer Cup for his work at 51 North Brewing Co. in Lake Orion. Beratta’s first creation for Axle, the recently released Mother Handsome Double IPA, is brewed with a unique blend of American and African hops.
As for the fare, the original plan for “a captive food truck has morphed into a more sophisticated food execution,” said Axle President Dan Riley.
What that means will remain a surprise for now, Riley said, but Axle did confirm that “a local culinary group” will head up the food side of the operation.
Riley said an announcement revealing the culinary group would be made in the coming weeks.
As for an opening time line, Riley said he hopes to be brewing by January with soft openings beginning in February.
567 Livernois; axlebrewing.com/wordpress/livernois-tap-brewery