...and found it pretty darned good!
I was a bit after general dining hours at most places around 9PM, and tried several haunts by phone, with no luck: kitchen was already closed, or would be closed by the time I got there. So I had a thought: I knew that JBD opened yesterday, and what kind of hours did their kitchen keep? I called Diamond Jim Brady's Novi and asked if they had a phone number for the Royal Oak location, which they did, and I called. Kitchen's open until 11:50PM. Score!
I want to emphasize how important that is for someone like me. I often (too often) find myself out and about scurrying around for work, and I get hungry while working, and find out too late that it's "after hours", and choices are few. Here, the kitchen's open until 11:50PM weekdays, and 12:50AM on weekends, along with Late Night Happy Hour to boot! "Bonus Multiplied".
Service was really, really good. They've got a lot of people looking to make a good impression right now, and they did on me. My server Chad was able to answer every single question I posed to him (WiFi password, soup du jour, what type of fish is "Basa", etc.). He's a great representative for the place, as was every other person I interacted with (yes, VTB: there's some cute eye candy for you, you dirty old man!). Because it was Late Night Happy Hour, I was able to pop a bit more around the menu than I might normally have done.
Let's start with that Soup Du Jour, then: mushroom bisque. I was immediately drawn and ordered that ($4 cup/$5 bowl...get the bowl, which I ordered!), and also got their Grandma's Chicken Poppers appetizer, since it was only $4 during LNHH.
They are hitting the right notes with that mushroom bisque. Very, very tasty, not too much salt, and the correct amount of mushrooms: they were in every bite, nicely surrounded by broth, and not "in the way" of the spoon. Every bit of a B+ here, which is high praise from me for soup. A very hearty and rich experience, enjoyable to the last spoonful. If it was on offer, I'd get it again. No bread or crackers included, unfortunately, but fair is fair: I didn't ask for any, either. Perhaps it just needed the asking. Nonetheless: a great example of a fine soup. If you like mushrooms, you'll be happy. I was, at least.
The Grandma's Chicken Poppers were better than you (or I) would think they are. They do their *own* meat there in JBD, so that chicken is prepared *by them*. They prepare it themselves, they marinate it themselves in honey and buttermilk, they dip it themselves, and they fry it themselves. Oh, and the five sauces you get to choose one from? All house-made, too.
What it adds up to is some much-better-than-average popcorn-style chicken. It's *light* in comparison to many other different places I've had similar preps of chicken, and it's *very* recognizable as real chicken. It still maintains a great deal of its juiciness, and while it didn't change my life, it certainly ranks up high with the best of this type of chicken I've ever had. Glorified real popcorn chicken. Shareable, too, and at $4 during LNHH, I had absolutely no regrets. I'd go elsewhere on the menu in the future, but *not because* these were bad...it's just not as great as, say, that mushroom bisque. Still, impressive in its own right, for the right reasons. They did this up well.
All told, I think I was out the door with tax and tip for $15-16 (including a $3 Coke, refilled several times by different smiling people), and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I certainly left with a full belly, and was able to easily take in the last period and OT of the Red Wings game. They weren't terribly busy by that time, so camping at my table for 5-10 minutes wasn't a big deal. Great hospitality.
The one (sort of bad) thing I did notice when I walked in: this place is *loud* with *lots* of hard surfaces. Even with a not-full place, the noise level was high. Fill the place up? It's going to be a bit of a decibel nightmare. That might have to be addressed in the future, but for my night, it was no problem at all.
I liked it, and I'll be going back for certain. Be warned: the menu here and at Novi are *NOT THE SAME* nor are they really similar. They do share some dishes (chili, burgers, etc.), but if you're expecting the dishes to be the same as they are in Novi, you'll need to adjust your thinking.
Off to a pleasant start, I'd say!