You may have heard about the newest craze in dining called pop-ups. They’re the semi-clandestine, now-you-see-‘em, now-you-don’t restaurants that covertly arise from seemingly nowhere for a one-night pre-fix meal usually offered up by up-and-coming culinary stars who have no restaurants of their own to display their talents. These one-night runs aren’t advertised, except for word of mouth or by subscription (if you can even get lucky enough to get THAT address) lest a health department official or the tax man makes an unexpected visit and ruins the party.
Even more bizarre, in some cases, you don’t know the menu or even the location until just prior to the meal when it is e-mailed or texted to you. You pay your money up front and take your chances, usually with a spectacular payoff. Minimally, it’s an experience. If the thought of a culinary treasure hunt isn’t so appealing, there’s a similar alternative, and this one is completely legit. It’s (revolver).
Located on 9737 Joseph Campau in Detroit’s historic Hamtramck, (revolver)–it’s always in parentheses–features the culinary offerings of a different chef or chef team, with a completely different menu and theme, each weekend. Some local chef stars, some even beyond.
Like trying new restaurants and new foods but aren’t crazy about driving all over creation to find them? Well, this is for you. It’s kind of a bringing Mohammad to the mountain concept. The restaurant stays put but changes every weekend, reflecting each guest chef’s repertoire du jour.
I thought I’d check out (revolver), so I searched out its website and bought a seat (online) for Brent Foster’s one-night stand entitled, “A Modern Southern Dinner with Brent Foster,” on November 15, 2014. Brent’s credentials and (revolver’s) fun, banter-like, marketing-style bio is below, including the night’s menu, which sold for a VERY reasonable $45. Here’s what (revolver) says:
“Brent Foster isn’t just another pretty face…but he is reallllly pretty…what were we talking about? Ahhh, yes, Brent’s bio. He’s currently the Executive Chef for Woodward Avenue Brewers, in Ferndale, having recently reworked their menu. He also helps to create and administer the menu at Ferndale’s The Emory. Earlier this year, he gained tons of attention as a finalist in Rachael Ray’s Great American Cookbook competition. When he’s not working…he’s working…keeping very active in Detroit’s pop-up food scene, which is very near and dear to (revolver)’s heart.”
A modern southern dinner with Brent Foster : saturday, november 15th, 2014 4 courses : $45 / person
(non-alcoholic beverages included. cash tips welcome and appreciated.) seatings: 6pm & 9pm *there is no vegetarian option available for this meal*
First: Black-Eyed Pea Cakes with ham steak, hot pepper coulis, and red eye gravy
Next: Wilted Collard Green Salad with cubed bacon, tomato, onion, and roasted garlic vin
Then: Tempura Fried Chicken & Jalapeño Johnny Cakes with red bean succotash, and scotch maple glaze
Finally: Sweet Potato Chai Panna Cotta with citrus ginger butter cream and bourbon caramel drizzle
So? What was it like? How was the food? Let me first say that I really enjoyed (revolver). The owners, greeter and servers were charming and very appreciative of the fact that, as usual, all 38 seats of both settings were sold out. The meal began with a dinner bell and a greeting by the evening’s chef followed by the evening’s four courses. I sat at the room’s largest table flanked by both veteran and first-time diners, all anxiously anticipating each dish.
Among my table companions were a doctor, a school teacher, an HR Director, a well-traveled financial consultant and a charming couple who shared numerous stories about their travels, including a beer brewing competition in which they placed 3rd. Proud as they were, they brought some for us to share. It was delicious!
We all enjoyed conversation about our travels, our favorite restaurants and assorted stories of our everyday work and adventures. The food on this particular evening was no doubt prepared with love and passion, but (in my opinion) lacked a bit in both seasoning and execution. Still, I enjoyed my dinner with my new friends.
Now, if this were any other restaurant, you could come back again and try the same dishes or maybe something else on the chef’s menu. The only thing is, the next time here, this restaurant will have a brand-new chef and a brand-new menu. The moral? Well, even if you fall in love with a particular dish, you darn well better enjoy it because it’s likely you’ll never see or taste it again, at least not at (revolver).
If this all sounds pretty neat, here’s their website address. From here, you can also sign up for their e-mailer, from which you’ll get up-to-date listings of the upcoming chefs and their menus, so you can decide which one sounds best and make advance reservations. (revolver)–high-caliber fun.