In Ferndale, between L.A.-style tacos, Lebanese, and fine dining, food lovers aren’t lacking in options.
Seemingly under the radar — but worth a try — is John D Bistro, which has been open for two years since taking over the former Club Bart. It dishes up new American fare in a modern, posh space that features a plush banquette decked out with a mirror trim as well as more traditional tables and ample stools at the bar where craft beers and craft cocktails are both available.
The lounge decor sets the scene for a diverse crowd; it’s a spot where you can take mom for brunch or your friends for bottle service.
Helmed by executive chef Scott Breazeale, John D’s kitchen recently rolled out seasonal menus — and with the creativity and use of local ingredients, these rotating offerings are definitely a draw.
On the evening we went, the menu had a wintry spin — comforting during the seemingly endless season. With summer approaching, Breazeale plans to change the menu to take advantage of Michigan’s cherries, asparagus, and corn, to name a few ingredients.
While Breazeale is dedicated to using local products, his food spans the globe.
“You may see a dish with strong Korean flavors next to a dish with northern Italian flavors next to a classic French dish,” says Breazeale, who can usually be found working the room chatting up the patrons. “For me this is the best part of the job — taking the guest on a culinary journey.”
For starters, there are plenty of shareable options, including tender calamari in a sweet and spicy sauce and duck sliders topped with a bright orange cranberry compote that balances the unctuous fowl. Want to go all out? There’s a foie gras burger with truffle fries.
We chose the rabbit ragu and scallops as entrees. In keeping with the seasonal theme, the ragu was a huge bowl of comfort: a well-balanced tomato sauce enveloped pieces of tender rabbit meat on top of pasta. The scallops were cooked with a nicely crusted, golden-brown sear; however, the best parts of the dish were the accompaniments of pate choux gnocchi, butternut squash, Brussels sprout leaves, bacon, and chevre.
Other entrees include an 18-ounce rib-eye steak that would satisfy Fred Flintstone; lamb chops; and several seafood options, including salmon, lobster ravioli, and lobster risotto.
As one who normally makes a cocktail her dessert, I made sure to save room because Breazeale has serious chops as a pastry chef.
We chose the panna cotta — and what a pleasant surprise it was. This classic, simple Italian dessert was elevated by extra packed-in flavor: a silky graham-cracker infused cream and a “milk jam,” which mimicked toasted marshmallow. A bittersweet chocolate sauce and graham cracker crumbs topped it off — and there you have the world’s most refined S’more.
We can’t wait to see the surprises the next seasonal menu will bring.
22726 Woodward Ave., Ferndale, 248-398-4070. D Tue.-Sun., Br. Sun.