Jason Frenkel keeps a grocery cart in the vestibule of his apartment building in the Eastern Market neighborhood. And just about every morning, he trundles it across the street to the market to pick up fresh ingredients for Rubbed, his Corktown restaurant.
The artfully casual little spot at 2015 Michigan Ave. with white draperies in the front window has been serving sturdy sandwiches and charcuterie since the fall of 2014.
Until this year, it was just the lunch menu and an occasional pop-up dinner, but now Frenkel has branched out, offering a dinner menu Thursday through Saturday that departs from those hefty lunchtime sandwiches.
In fact, no sandwiches at all are served in the evening. Instead, it’s what Frenkel calls a bill of fare “with a steakhouse vibe.” Both meat and seafood are served at the sturdy wood tables in the 25-seat spot done up in flea market finds and the works of local artists. The menu changes each week and is purposely small.
As night falls, the paper and plastic are replaced with white china and big cloth napkins — and there is full service of such dishes as filet mignon, at $24 the most expensive dish on the menu. Other dishes that typify the after-dark approach are lamb rack and pan-seared salmon. Usually there’s a vegetarian component as well.
At 34, Frenkel is a veteran restaurant guy. His experience prior to opening Rubbed includes such upscale restaurants as Bucci Ristorante in Grosse Pointe Woods, Eurasian Grill in West Bloomfield, a couple of local country clubs, and places as far afield as Miami and northern California, where he cooked at Skates on the Bay, a waterfront spot in Berkeley, before returning to his native Michigan. He grew up, as he describes it, “in Oak Park, then Farmington Hills, and West Bloomfield,” as the family fortunes improved.
He met Anthony Yates — who recently joined Rubbed as chef — when both cooked at the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield. The two kept in touch as they “bounced around the restaurant scene,” as Yates puts it. “We complement each other’s style.”
Corktown has flourished since Rubbed opened in 2014. And Rubbed has developed something of a cult following for its sandwiches and catering.
Frenkel and Yates are confident that the dinner menu will prove as popular. And they are hoping they will see some new faces when their restaurant catches the eye of the patrons of such nearby stalwarts as Slows Bar BQ.
Outdoor tables, adding another 20 seats to capacity as soon as weather permits, will also help the visibility of the little green-painted building.