Earlier this week, my wife and I had the pleasure of eating at the Forest Grill. I have wanted to eat here for quite some time. We finally found ourselves in the area after making the drive from Cleveland. I have been a big fan of Brian Polcyn for a while. We have eaten at the old Five Lakes and I am an amateur charcuterist, using his book as an invaluable reference.
The meal naturally started with the charcuterie platter, which included the house cured prosciutto, lardo and pepperoni. Accompanying the platter were some marinated olives, roasted vegetables with basil and a caponata. The lardo was decadent; pairing it with the caponata on a slice of the bread provided cut the richness of the fat and provided a great balance. The prosciutto was as good as I have had. The pepperoni was amazing, the right amount of spice. I was amazed at what the crew at Forest Grill can do with their charcuterie.
For entrees, I ordered the Veal Cheeks served with gnocchi and wilted spinach. The cheeks were braised to perfection; they absolutely melted in my mouth. The gnocchi were light and fluffy with a crisp exterior. The dish was a wonderful example of how to take a tough, under looked part of an animal and transform it into something spectacular. My wife ordered the Diver Scallops and Pork Belly. This seemed like a strange combination, but it worked very well together. The scallops were seared perfectly. The pork belly was a work of art, meltingly tender underneath a crunchy exterior.
To end the meal, we indulged in a couple of desserts our waiter recommended. The Ricotta Cheese Tart was described as sort of a deconstructed cannoli, which worked as an accurate description. Topped with sliced fresh strawberries, the ricotta was mixed with chocolate and housed in a graham cracker crust and garnished with pistachios. Our waiter described the Cinnamon Brioche Bread Pudding, saying it was the chef's take on bread pudding, a dish he can't stand. This intrigued me to see how the chef would innovate on this classic. Replacing the traditional raisins with dark chocolate proved to be an excellent choice. The pudding was topped with vanilla ice cream, which melted quickly. My wife fought over taking bites of each dessert, it was a toss up as to our favorite.
Overall, I thought this was an excellent meal. Service was efficient, courteous and knowledgeable. For the two of us with a couple drinks and tip, we walked out the door for $150, an excellent value. Given my interest in charcuterie, this would be a place I make the 2.5 hour drive again. If I lived in the area, this would be a regular stop.
Forest Grill Restaurant
735 Forest Ave Ste 100, Birmingham, MI 48009
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