“Any free time these days is spent at home with my family,” says Derik Watson, executive chef at Bistro 82 in Royal Oak. “But when I do get out, I thoroughly enjoy Bangkok Express (off Southfield Road between 12 and 13 Mile roads). I love Thai food and I haven’t found any other restaurants that compare. I’ve tasted my way through almost the entire menu — I really enjoy their crispy duck curry the most, but all of their curries are excellent. I also love hitting up Imperial in Ferndale —a very cool spot. Who can go wrong with a bacon-wrapped hot dog like the Bakersfield, a cold beer, open-air dining, and the ball game playing? There are a few places I haven’t made it to yet that I am dying to try. Marais in Grosse Pointe and Torino in Ferndale are definitely on my short list.
Executive chef Jim Oppat of the Andiamo Italia restaurants can recite his favorite spots “right off the top of my head.” They include the comfort food “taken to a new level” at Jeremy Restaurant & Bar in Keego Harbor (which closed in May), the hamburgers at Dearborn’s Miller Bar, and especially, the charcuterie board and chef’s tasting menu at the Forest Grill in Birmingham. “Charcuterie has become a lost art,” he says, “but it is alive and well in Birmingham. The real art of cooking is buying the highest quality seasonal ingredients and applying skillful preparations to them. No one has demonstrated that culinary perfection like chef Brian Polcyn at the Forest Grill. When Amy and I are dining out or entertaining, this restaurant is at the top of our list. Starting out with the ever-changing charcuterie board is a must, the cured meat, sausages, foie gras, pates, and terrines. As if that was not enough indulgence, we order the bone marrow, which is heavenly on the grilled crostini with onion confit.” After cheese and pastry for dessert, says Oppat, “we can end our night with a leisurely stroll through downtown.”