On a recent Saturday afternoon, a customer walked into Noble Pig, a little café on Mack Avenue just north of Moross Road. Chef/proprietor Brandon Kahlich happened to be at the carry-out counter, fresh from the kitchen where he’d been preparing a huge catering order. “Is the food made here?” she asked. “Or is it brought in from somewhere else?”
A closer look at his sauce-stained apron could have given her the answer, but Kahlich just smiled and replied matter-of-factly, “Yes, it’s all made here.” He could’ve added that the housemade fare even includes the potato chips and ice cream.
It just goes to show that you never know what you might find behind a modest exterior. Although Noble Pig is just a storefront, it showcases the talent of a chef who could easily be running the kitchen in an upscale four-star restaurant. And, in fact, he has some experience along those lines.
Kahlich spent 3 1/2 years as the sous-chef at The Whitney and its sibling, Van Dyke Place, and served stints at the Money Tree and the Vintage Bistro, after which he moved to Thailand and the Banyan Tree resort in Phuket to take the chef’s position there.
When he returned to Michigan, Kahlich put his name on the restaurant that had been known as the L.-Bow Room in the Parkcrest Inn in Harper Woods, and from there, he went on to open Bambu Café on the Hill in Grosse Pointe Farms, where he quickly became known for his crab cakes.
Bambu, a refined little café, was on the first floor of a two-story building, and Kahlich says he wanted his own space, with nobody upstairs. He also wanted to get away from the ladies-who-lunch menu to something more down-to-earth.
He found the Noble Pig space through one of his Bambu customers, Dennis Petersen, who had a vacancy in a strip of storefronts he owned.
It was once a Cottage Inn, but had been empty for a year. Last May, Kahlich closed Bambu and brought his equipment over to Mack Avenue, where he gutted the space and started all over again.
It was all bright orange,” he says. Now it’s done up in more subdued fashion, with white walls, decorative wooden shutters picked up at garage sales, and black-and-white photographs of New Orleans.
Noble Pig opened just before Thanksgiving. There’s room for just 14 to sit down and sample Kahlich’s baby back ribs, pulled pork, and chicken-and-andouille-sausage po’boys — a menu he thought the neighborhood needed. Kahlich also prepares pizzas with dough made fresh every day — “mostly for the kids,” he says.
Among the sandwiches: lump crab cakes with rémoulade, just the way he made it at Bambu.
And, in fact, if any of his old customers request something from the Bambu menu, if he has the ingredients, he’ll whip it up.
Noble Pig, 19222 Mack Ave., Grosse Pointe Farms; 313-640-4115. Lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m., dinner $5-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat. Closed Sun.