The first of two Twisted Rooster restaurants in metro Detroit opened last week in Chesterfield Township, featuring a casual American menu that emphasizes ingredients grown or produced in Michigan. A Belleville branch is expected to open May 19.
Both sites were O'Charley's restaurants. Meritage Hospitality Group of Grand Rapids is converting them to its own concept of a restaurant that offers competitively priced, freshly prepared dishes -- many designed with a twist.
"We wanted to be able to cater to everybody ... and be sure (the restaurant) was good for families," said corporate executive chef Mark Noseda, a Sterling Heights native whose résumé stretches from New Orleans to Napa Valley.
"We wanted prices you'd get at a chain restaurant, but with fresh food cooked from scratch daily, because no one really does that, for that price. You can come in and for $8 have a great dinner, cooked from scratch from Michigan products," he said.
Appetizers range from Spiced Caramel Bacon Bites -- French bread topped with fig marmalade, sliced fruit and caramelized applewood-smoked bacon -- to tater tots with blue cheese sauce.
Entrées include three kinds of mac and cheese; burgers of bison, beef or turkey, and various sandwiches and flatbreads (all under $10), and main dishes ranging from cilantro-shallot crusted salmon with fried grits cake to beer-battered chicken strips and steaks ($8-$17.50).
The beverage menu includes Faygo in bottles, a wine list that's about one-third Michigan-made and almost a dozen M.I.M. -- for Made in Michigan -- cocktails, using the growing list of Michigan producers of spirits and liquor. There's the Michigan Bloody Mary, made with McClure's Spicy Bloody Mary Mix; the Michigan Mojito, using New Holland Citrus Vodka, and the South of the Canadian Border Margarita, with New Holland Hopquila.
The children's menu features healthy options; an entrée with side and drink is $4.
Noseda got his start as a teenager with Kruse & Muer in Rochester and was opening chef for its Troy restaurant.
Meritage is a publicly traded company that has 86 franchised restaurants and more than 2,000 employees. Twisted Rooster is its first original concept; the first one opened in Grand Rapids.
The restaurants are open daily; the menu is at twisted-rooster.com. (In Chesterfield, 45225 Marketplace Blvd.; 586-949-1470. In Belleville, 9729 Belleville Road; 734-697-6201.)