The Detroit-area barbecue scene has gotten more competitive recently. My favorite barbecue place, Slows Bar BQ, in downtown Detroit (near the old Tiger’s Stadium) has been given a run for its money by Lochart’s BBQ .
Josh and I recently made a visit to this relative newcomer that opened last year in the hip, artsy town of Royal Oak, Michigan. It’s about a 45 minute trip from our home in Ypsilanti, but they did not disappoint. I would classify the interior of this restaurant as casual, modern industrial. With thick wood tables with natural splits to the exposed brick walls and stainless steel counters, open kitchen and large windows allowing light to pour inside.
The server was well versed on the menu and ready to help with any questions. He also brought out a nice complimentary jar of sweet and fiery pickle chips in a glass jar to start off our meals.
I ordered the Carolina Pulled Pork sandwich which came on a Kaiser roll with the signature Lochart’s signature barbecue sauce which was smokey sweet with a hint of spicy and topped with coleslaw. The meat was very tender and juicy and I loved the creaminess of the coleslaw as a compliment to the pork. I had my choice of a side and went for their classic mac and cheese which was creamy and had a nice cheesy quality, but still fell a bit short of Slows fantastically gooey, rich version. Josh also loved his go-to choice of a beef brisket sandwich as well.
We had really wanted to try dessert but couldn’t get past the fact that we were filled to the brim with barbecue goodness on this particular day. Sweet endings will have to wait until our next visit. The trick will be to decide on one amongst a lot of great choices, including: Pecan Pie, Berry Cobbler and Chocolate Dr. Pepper Cake.
While we were out on the east side of town looking for a lunch spot we stumbled on this pretty tasty little place along Woodward in Royal Oak called, Vinsetta Grill.
This restaurant seems to have a bit of an identity crisis. The decor is a mix of dark modern colors, contemporary architecture and limited lighting (in part why there are no photos for this entry), but there are odd collections of items on the walls such as a series of farmer-style hats that seem out of place. The menu is more traditional in style and choices than you would think from restaurant’s design. They also have a digital board near the kitchen that shows the current order numbers to let servers know when the food is up. It seems a little bit tacky for this type of restaurant since it’s not at Denny’s atmosphere.
Aside from the decor our waiter was very helpful and attentive and the food was pretty good. We both chose to build our own burgers from a list of extensive toppings. I went with grilled chicken on a wheat bun topped with herb goat cheese spread, scallions, sun-dried tomatoes with a side of roasted garlic aioli. My husband chose a traditional beef burger with pineapple, Swiss cheese and barbecue sauce on a hamburger bun. The waiter was nice enough to suggest that we mix and match half orders of their sweet potato fries and regular fries and save a little money (the burgers are a la carte here).
My “burger” was very flavorful. I’m always afraid that when I order a grilled chicken sandwich at a restaurant that the breast is going to be two inches thick and impossible to eat, but the one at Vinsetta’s was a much more reasonable half-inch thick with nice grill marks, though a just a tad overdone. The herbs in the goat cheese spread were nice and pronounced, but not too strong. The sun-dried tomatoes were still whole and a little tough to chew, they might consider cutting them into a julienne or cooking them a bit more to soften them up. The scallions and garlic aioli were delicious with the other toppings I chose. The sweet potato fries, which are one of my new weaknesses, were also yummy. Crispy outside and very soft potatoey (is that a word?) inside.
We’re not on this side of the Detroit area very often, but if we were and I was looking for another interesting burger I’d try Vinsetta’s again. They have over 30 different topping choices so the combination possibilities are enough to bring me back for something less traditional.