|All photos by Nicole Rupersburg.|
We've already established that Imperial in Ferndale is one of the best spots in metro Detroit, period - in terms of food, drink, design, and overall ambiance. Everywhere else is same same same, same same same, same same same same same. Imperial is different.
Now the five partners behind Imperial - Jeff and Suzanne King, Perry and Sharon Lavoisne (who live in L.A. now, though Perry is originally from Detroit), and Amir Daiza - are opening Public House in Ferndale, and it is already looking like it's going to be every bit as awesome and different as Imperial, but with a concept as entirely different as the opposite coast that inspired it.
Where Imperial is all working class rockabilly L.A., Public House takes its inspiration from the east coast. This is a modern Manhattan high-style "dive" bar that pays homage to the city's 1970s punk scene. This is East Village now meets East Village then, a five-star gastropub with the spirit of CBGB.
Speaking of five stars, you'll notice the logo has five stars in it. The stars represent the five partners, but also refers to a nickname for co-owner Sharon "Five-Star," for what is essentially her high standards of excellence. Expect to see a lot of custom swag, from cloth patches to leather knife sheaths, with the five star logo.
The partners have 20 years of industry experience together. Jeff and Perry previously worked at St. Andrew's and owned Small's in Hamtramck together. These guys have rock and roll in their blood, which was always evident in Imperial but is front-and-center at Public House. There is a record player on the bar shelves surrounded by piles of vinyl. The music at Public House will be all vinyl, all the time, and all music you've either never heard before (like obscure late-'60s psychedelic rock) or that you haven't heard in a while. Much like at Imperial, which sticks with all the rebel rockers of the alt-country variety (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson), Public House is sticking with the rebel rockers of all other genres: Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, the Rolling Stones, even jazz and blues rebels like Miles Davis and THE original rock rebel, Frank Sinatra.
The motif of the painting of the rebel rocker displayed in the center of the bar is carried over from Imperial, and is something they plan on making consistent in all their future endeavors. This time it's Keith Richards, based on a photo of him wearing the now-infamous T-shirt that read "Who the fuck is Mick Jagger?" painted by local artist (painter, cartoonist, publisher, rock musician) Mark Dancey, who also painted the Johnny Cash waiving the one-finger salute at Imperial.
The space feels like a hipster-trendy lower Manhattan hotspot right here in metro Detroit. Marble-topped tables, curved wood and iron benches, a white tile wall on one side and an unfinished concrete wall on the other, and dark wood throughout (reclaimed materials were used where possible) accented with WWII-era industrial lights from an old Communist Eastern European factory (legit). Like Imperial, garage doors in the front will open out to the street and there will be a large patio in the back. Like Imperial, the space is intentionally simple and impeccably well-designed.
And much like Imperial, the menu was designed in consultation with Eric Patterson and Jennifer Blakeslee of the celebrated Cook's House in Traverse City. Chef Dan Hine, previously Executive Chef of the Whitney, will run the kitchen. The kitchen is open with its own "bar," a kind of de facto chef's table that will most likely be the hottest seats in the house for hanging out. An small dining space above the kitchen is available for private parties complete with a special group menu available by request which will allow Hine to offer items not available on the regular dinner menu - think a while leg of lamb for your party of six with the same per-person pricing you would get by ordering off the regular menu.
The space is almost complete and they are now awaiting their final inspections. They hope to be open late September or early October. The hours will be the same as Imperial, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., seven days a week. Expect brunch to come a few months down the line.
Want a sneak peek at the menu? I happen to have one. And I am sharing it with you. You're welcome. Like Imperial, the menu is small (prices aren't yet noted but will be in line with Imperial's) but full of interesting items, "working-class food," as Perry calls it, but sophisticated. It's still approachable - burgers, like tacos, are inherently approachable - but thoughtfully prepared with a gastronomic sensibility. In many ways, Imperial has expanded people's palates but without doing it in an obnoxious, self-important LOOK AT ALL OF THE GREAT THINGS WE ARE DOING TO EXPAND YOUR PALATES way, which is just what this area needs. (I'd say the same about Green Dot, which is The Other Place in metro Detroit that isn't the same same same that I regularly recommend to people coming in from out of state/country.) Public House will do the same. Check it out:
~Deviled Eggs celery root/tarragon or chicken wing
~Tempura Fried Sardines honey dipping sauce
~Mixed Pickles what's in season
~Hushpuppies Westphalian ham, maple butter
~Tempura Fried Green Onions habanero/lemon/truffle salts
~Potato Chips malt vinegar aioli
~Fried Chickpeas & Marinated Moroccan Olives citrus zest, herbs
~PH Burger lamb and pork, feta, mint chutney, toasted brioche *lentil burger available upon request
~Pastrami Brownwood mustard, swiss cheese sauce, cucumber pickle, fried egg, toasted brioche
~Buttermilk Fried Chicken pimento cheese, house made dill pickle, toasted brioche
~PH BLT pork belly, tomato jam, bibb lettuce, avocado, jalapeño & red onion pickle, bao bun
~Vegetarian sautéed red peppers, onion, celery root, carrots, fennel, white bean hummus, french loaf
~Bahn MI roasted pork, pork rillette, Westphalian ham, daikon-radish-carrot slaw, french loaf
~Duck apple kimchi, ssamjang sauce, bibb lettuce, bao bun
~PBR Braised Brisket, caramelized kimchi, miso-radish dressing, toasted brioche
~Brat fennel-apple slaw, french loaf OR bourbon bean, diced onion, french loaf
*veggie dog available upon request
*Gluten-free options available
|PBR-braised brisket sliders.|
~Cotton Candy, flavor of the day
~Soft Serve, Vanilla or flavor of the day
Milk Crumb, Coco Almond Crumb, Buttery Ritz, Bacon Pretzel Brittle, Mini S'more Marshmallows or Boba, flavor of the day
Estelle - reposado, pear, lemon, agave, pinot noir réduction
Hazel - cardamom, pear liqueur, barenjager honey, lemon, white tea
Mavis - pisco, limoncello, pineapple, orange, lime, ginger beer, bitters
Stella - gin, green chartreuse, public house cordial, lime, egg white, rose bitters
Stanley - blanco tequila, cynar, lime, yellow chartreuse, demerara
Earl - bourbon, cocchi americano, limoncello, yellow chartreuse
Eugene - mezcal, creme de cacaco, bonal, mole bitters
Roy - bourbon, cocchi americano, lemon, public house cordial, laphroaig
Wallace - aperol, akavavit, lime, grapefruit, falernum, grapefruit bitters
Ike - japanese whiskey, gin, rum, hibiscus liqueur, lime, ginger beer
Mabel - damson gin, swedish punsch, lime
Gus - cynar, jamaican rum, madeira, bitters, ipa
Frank - japanese whiskey, root, simple, bitters
Vivian - blanco tequila, sherry, elderflower
Floyd - mango tea infused applejack, sherry, pineapple, lime
Rita - blanco tequila, cointreau, coco lopez, lime
Boozey Milkshakes - Vanilla Ice Cream
Loretta - root, ginger beer
Otis - rhubarb tea, strawberry
Clark - snap, coffee
Unlike Imperial, Public House will have an eight-handle tap system. While the beer list isn't finalized, you can expect American craft beers and no dollar pints of Bud Light.
Want to see more? View the Flickr set here.