Downtown Plymouth offers diversity, beauty, shopping, fine and casual dining, history and a small yet big city feel with over 30,000 inhabitants between the city proper and township of Plymouth. With plenty to do in this gorgeous area, we decided to help you get started (if you’re not already familiar). And what better time or way to get acquainted with Plymouth than during their inaugural restaurant week? For starters, it’s a ten-day event (running from Friday, 9/28 through Sunday, 10/7) that will help introduce you to ten of the most diverse dining establishments that Plymouth has to offer. With prix fixe three-course lunch and dinner menus available – all interactively laid out for you on plymouthrestaurantweek.com – you’ll get to try a variety of food for the fixed price of $15 to $35 (although beverages, gratuity and tax are not included in that price). Want some advice? Try them all! Ten restaurants over ten days? You do the math! But it would probably be a good idea to make reservations in advance – these places will be hoppin’!
Zin Wine Bar
On the cutting edge of the culinary scene not just in Plymouth, but in all of metro Detroit, Zin is pushing the envelope of what restaurant week means. Focused on seasonal ingredients and fascinating flavors, Chef Justin Valciunas’ dishes are both visually appealing and pleasing to the palate. Housemade wild game sausages are superbly spiced, while the fried calamari is elevated by Thai pumpkin sauce. The main courses are all classic dishes (chicken, salmon, macaroni and cheese) that have been tweaked just a little and go from ordinary to incredible. If you’re looking for a culinary adventure, Zin is your place.
Penn Grill and Bar
Penn Grill is a neighborhood bar if there ever was one. Their menu does not stray far from bar fare either. However, during restaurant week there will be a NY strip steak available that is not only quite large, but also pretty damn tasty. Served with crispy, golden-brown home fries and asparagus, Penn’s strip is quintessential meat and potatoes. With a friendly staff and extensive bar selection, Penn would be an ideal place to eat and hang out well into the night.
Compari’s on the Park
The feeling of an old world Italian family restaurant is just not common these days. Imagine my happiness after I walked into Compari’s and thought, “My grandma would love this place!” There’s nothing fancy about Compari’s, but the food is really thoughtful and well prepared. Connected to its counterparts Fiamma Grille and The Sardine Room, Compari’s is the most kid-friendly of the three. For restaurant week, don’t be afraid to bring the kids for pizza while mom and dad enjoy the prix fixe menu. With old world classics like baccala and cannoli, Nonna would even love this place (just don’t tell her the food is as good as hers).
The Sardine Room
If Compari’s is family-friendly, The Sardine Room is the funky spot where all of the cool kids are hanging out. A combination raw bar and small plates restaurant with a strong cocktail program, The Sardine Room is not only a fun place to eat but also a great spot to hang out for a couple hours. Before ordering off the restaurant week menu, definitely try a cocktail and maybe a few oysters because they’re tremendously fresh. Follow that up with housemade gnocchi that are pan-fried – a technique that should be employed far more often with gnocchi.
Completing the restaurant trifecta, Fiamma Grille is the most elegant of the three places. With an interior perfect for a romantic evening out or even a quiet dinner with friends, Fiamma is for those looking for less aural stimulation. Of course, the food is no less stunning. Traditional Italian classics like arancini meet more American mainstays like flat iron steak and mashed potatoes. An excellent wine list is available too, so don’t be afraid to pair each of your restaurant week courses with a wine (yes, even dessert – you’ll be happy you did).
It’s one thing to call yourself a sports bar, but that would do Ironwood a great injustice. Ironwood does look like a really interesting place to watch a game, but it also has some fascinating food, too. If you’re looking for bar food, you can go that route with choices like pizza, quesadillas and sliders. The pizza, however, is cooked in a 650-degree oven. There’s also more unique fare like tuna sashimi, beef brisket and portabella chicken. No matter which direction you go in, there’s also an excellent beer selection and plenty of screens with games on.
There’s something particularly striking about Panache. Immediately upon walking through the doors, the design of the space hits you. Couches, the gorgeous bar and stylistic booths give a quick glance into Panache’s uniqueness. A look at the menu gives an even better indication of just how special this place is. Ever try a meatloaf cupcake? Ground beef and ground buffalo are blended together and “iced” with garlic mashed potatoes and accented with mushroom gravy, carrots and green beans – truly a memorable and savory dish.
Nico & Vali
Part restaurant and part market, Nico & Vali is focused on serving Italian food made using old world recipes. Their restaurant week menu has a foundation strongly rooted in Nonna’s recipes. Start with Italian sausage and peppers, then move onto their truly phenomenal meat lasagna with its layers of perfectly-cooked pasta with ricotta, fresh sauce, ground beef and mozzarella. Finish your journey through old world Italy with a slice of Boscaiola cake, pastry filled with Chantilly cream topped with sponge cake and garnished with mixed berries. Aside from the wonderful food, the staff is bend-over-backward nice and will jump through flaming hoops to make you feel like part of their family.
Sean O’ Callaghan’s
Looking to have a full-on Irish experience during restaurant week? No, we’re not suggesting you get sloshed off Guinness and Jameson and traverse the streets of Dublin, but rather swing into O’ Callaghan’s, an authentic Irish-style pub. Yes, you can have your Guinness or a plethora of other Irish potables, but you can also order Irish-inspired cuisine like corned beef and cabbage or hand-battered fish and chips. The smoked salmon appetizer is especially intriguing. O’Callaghan’s is the type of place where you can have a great meal or belly up to the bar. Either way, you’ll have fun.
If a place could be said to “have it all,” E.G. Nick’s is that place. Chef Frank Agostini and his team of culinary experts present a menu full of dishes from all over the world. During restaurant week, their menu is focused on squarely packing as much flavor as possible in to three dishes. Start with fresh made potato chips topped with bleu cheese Alfredo sauce, follow that up with New England style crab and shrimp cakes, and finish it all off with cheesecake in a glass. Yup, you read that right. Homemade cheesecake in a glass topped with raspberry and blueberry glaze – decadent and elegant!
Full restaurant lineup and menus: PlymouthRestaurantWeek.com
Originally published in Real Detroit Weekly