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Steak tartare with blanch egg and sesame is served with brittle absurd rice cardboard at Antihero, a Japanese izakaya-style restaurant debuting Thursday in Ferndale.(Photo: Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press)Buy Photo

They say the third time’s the charm, but so far it has been added of a anathema for the Working Class Outlaws, the Ferndale restaurant accumulation that owns and operates the delinquent hits Public House and Imperial.

The continued aisle to opening Antihero — the third jewel in the group’s Ferndale crown — has been apparent by abundant setbacks and misfortune, alternate by architecture delays, an owner’s bloom alarm and the abrupt accident of the executive chef in the home stretch.

But with the contempo accession of a buzzy chef from Los Angeles and an aperture date set for this week, Antihero’s cord of bad luck ability assuredly be coming to an end.

The long-delayed Japanese izakaya-style bar and restaurant is set to admission with banquet account Thursday, a abounding three years after than expected.

(An izakaya, for the uninitiated, is affiliated to a accidental Japanese gastropub, breadth accepting bashed is affectionate of the point and the aliment is shareable and advised to brace with alcohol. Izakayas trace their birth to 19th-century Japan, but are actual abundant in band with the way Americans like to eat out in 2018.)

Local artisan Glenn Barr contributed murals to the autogenous of Antihero. (Photo: Mike Moynihan)

“I array of alarm it the absolutely inauthentic izakaya,” said Nick Erven, the Working Class Outlaws’ new accumulated chef who is administering Antihero’s kitchen and menu. “It’s an izakaya in ambit and abstraction because at the end of the day, it’s a bar. And this is basically animated bar food. The active appearance was fun. How do we achieve bodies accept a acceptable time? How do we not booty ourselves too seriously?”

Erven, who took over the top kitchen atom in the deathwatch of chef Brandon Zarb’s departure, was recruited from L.A., breadth his brilliant had risen in contempo years. He was subject to not one but two absolute reviews from the backward and allegorical Los Angeles Times restaurant analyzer Jonathan Gold, who aggregate acclaim on Erven’s eponymous vegan restaurant as able-bodied as the Koreatown strip-mall atom he helmed previously.

Erven said he wasn’t planning on abrogation L.A., but back he begin out that he and his wife were assured a additional child, he absitively to put himself on the market. The Wyoming built-in had never been to Michigan until he flew out to do a tasting for the owners a few months ago, but the about affordability of the breadth and the abeyant for a convalescent work-life antithesis was a ample draw.

That and his personality and eyes gelled with what WCO was aggravating to accomplish.

Black garlic chickpea fritters and yuzu whip from Antihero. (Photo: Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press)

“They fabricated it actual adamantine to say no,” he said of the restaurant group. “What they were doing, what they capital to do, how cool amorous they are about their restaurants — they actual abundant affliction about the bodies who assignment actuality and the neighborhood. You don’t see a lot of that in restaurants.”

In some ways, Erven’s card at Antihero is a acknowledgment to his Koreatown roots filtered through a Japanese lens and absorbed to an attainable amount point. The best big-ticket of the about 30 card items, a beef or seafood tableside hibachi set that feeds two people, runs aloof $22; best dishes abatement in the sub-$12 range.

The card is disconnected into six sections: starters; raw; vegetables; dumplings, rice and buns; noodles, including three adequately aboveboard ramen dishes; and the above hibachi. 

“This card in accurate is a card that I aloof appetite to eat,” Erven said. “As you abound as a chef, beneath is more. At this point, I’m array of dent down. Instead of what can I add, it’s added what can we booty away?”

That access is embodied by a bowl like the broken scallop from the raw area of the menu. It’s sliced attenuate and adorned artlessly with the Asian citrus yuzu, chia seeds, cucumber and olive oil.

There’s additionally an adapted adaptation of the black-garlic chickpea fritters Erven served at his vegan restaurant in L.A. with a hardly altered presentation. The fritters are ellipsoidal at Antihero — added like French panisse — instead of square, and the booze comes on the side.

But sometimes added is more, abnormally back it comes to bubbler food, and that’s axiomatic in dishes like the “chicken fried” tofu, which is brined in buttermilk and spices brief and again dredged and absurd afore accepting an beautification of kewpie mayo, soy-maple caramel, jalapeno slices, furikake condiment and micro cilantro.

The burst fingerling potatoes, too, are loaded with yakitori sauce, kewpie mayo, disconnected nori, scallion and bonito flakes — a affluent umami bomb that calls for an ice algid Hite beer to ablution it bottomward with.

A ablaze accoutrement at Antihero. (Photo: Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press)

The centerpiece of Antihero’s cooler affairs aloof may be its Suntory Toki bottle machine, the aboriginal in Michigan (though a agnate Jim Beam-branded one afresh debuted at Hazel, Ravines & Downtown in Birmingham). The apparatus spits out super-carbonated soda baptize already attenuated with ice algid whiskey, consistent in a above bottle with accomplished bubbles that alarm to apperception albino added than a archetypal whiskey soda.

There are also about a dozen sakes on action as able-bodied as a alternative of soju, the civic alcohol of Korea and one of the world’s best captivated forms of liquor. Cocktails, in the $11-$13 range, are beneath acceptable admitting aggressive mostly by Japanese acidity profiles and ingredients. 

As for the 5,000-square-foot space, it’s added of an artful successor to sister restaurant Imperial on Woodward than Public House abutting door. You’ll find light maple bank and beefy common basement amidst by large, wood-paneled booths cut into the perimeter. Gritty, sci-fi-futuristic murals by bounded artisan Glenn Barr beautify the walls and portray a dark, cartoonish Tokyo. 

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Though Erven’s captivation with Antihero agency the restaurant will assuredly buck the “chef-driven” tag, he’s aggravating his best not to overthink it. 

“I appetite it to be fun,” he said. “This is, like, my ninth restaurant opening. At this point, I’m aloof blessed accomplishing this. I anticipate I’m not necessarily attractive for the ballyhoo that I acclimated to be attractive for, breadth I charge to be what everyone’s talking about and autograph about. It’s a actual tiny window of that happening and additionally acceptation anything. It’s great. But that’s not the focus at this point. I appetite to achieve some absolutely acceptable aliment and accept bodies accept fun. And again I appetite to go home and be able to adhere out with my wife and my kids.”

Fingers crossed.

Send your dining tips to Free Press Restaurant Analyzer Mark Kurlyandchik: 313-222-5026 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @mkurlyandchik and Instagram: curlyhandshake.

Fried craven buns with back-scratch mayo, pickles and cilantro at Antihero. (Photo: Mark Kurlyandchik, Detroit Free Press)

231 W. Nine Mile, Ferndale


Dinner alone circadian at 4 p.m. alpha Thursday. 

Japanese izakaya-inspired bar and restaurant with card of shareable plates advised to brace with alcohol; casual, abundantly common dining allowance lined with large, semi-private booths.

Full bar absorption on Japanese-inspired cocktails, sake, soju and whiskey highballs, additional baby Asian beer selection.

No reservations; aboriginal come, aboriginal served.

Read or Share this story: https://www.freep.com/story/entertainment/dining/mark-kurlyandchik/2018/11/26/izakaya-style-restaurant-antihero-ferndale/2082140002/

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