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The restaurant bar as charming as its food

By John Horn

It has earned a stellar reputation as a foodie’s paradise, with a menu devoted to upscale yet unpretentious comfort food. But the bar inside of Town Tavern in downtown Royal Oak is as charming and relaxing as the dining experience on the other side of the room.

Centered with a long, marble slate bar and slightly isolated from the rest of the dining room, Town Tavern’s bar is a testimony to proper drinking. However, if you’re looking for multiple taps and draft beer, you’ll notice something different here.

When the Italian restaurant Lepanto closed and Town Tavern opened in its space, owner Bill Roberts said they discovered something unusual.

“There was no draft beer system in there,” he says. “We felt wine was going to be our thing and because we have all bottled beer, it enables us to have a neat assortment of Michigan microbrews.”

Trust us, you’re not going to miss the kegs. Not when you have your pick of nearly 50 domestic, import and Michigan beers. The Michigan microbrew lineup is outstanding, with a strong representation of some of the best breweries in the state.  From Short’s to Michigan Brewing Company to Dragonmead, Founders, Bell’s, Axl, Arbor Brewing Co. and more, your whistle shall remain properly whetted at the Town Tavern.

Settle in for a cold Keewanaw Widow Maker Black Ale from the Upper Peninsula or maybe a Dark Horse Amber Ale from the fine folks over in Marshall, Mich. You win, and you support state business as well.

“We have a good dozen or so by the bottle,” Roberts says. “That’s an area that is growing, in the city and in the state. It’s great. It keeps the money local.”

Not in the mood for beer? How about any number of their custom martinis, or perhaps a Tavern Lemonade, made with Effen Black Cherry vodka, cranberry and Rose’s Lime? The single-malt Scotch menu will make you do a quiet flip. That lineup includes everything from Johnnie Walker Blue to MacCallan 12-year to the Glenlivet, both 12- and 21-year.

Town Tavern’s wine list offers more than 50 varieties, and includes everything from fresh, summer-y white wines to rich malbecs and pinot noirs.

A special bar menu also puts some excellent small plates in front of you, including jumbo lump crab cakes, short rib tacos, parmesan truffle fries and Buffalo shrimp, to name a few.

It is a classic, understated bar with a very relaxed crowd amid a couple of well-placed plasma TVs. Some bar patrons are waiting for a table; others are there simply for the rich drinking experience. Either way, you’ll never leave disappointed.

116 W. Fourth Street, Royal Oak

248.544.730o

towntavernroyaloak.com

This article previously ran in Real Detroit Weekly Magazine

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