Ferndale Is for Lovers … of Food

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FoodieFebruary is the month of love, right? So where in the “D” can we go out and have a romantic meal? While I can find romance at Hunter House in Birmingham, I know most ladies would take exception with that. But I did find romance this month … in fashionable Ferndale. So, let’s eat!

If “youthful and hip” are your ideas of romantic, I suggest you try Inyo Restaurant and Lounge. Inyo is an upscale gourmet sushi place that, once you’re in- side, makes you feel like you’re part of the in-crowd. A sleek, modern decor belies the old-school quality that many trendy restaurants seem to lack nowadays.

Be adventurous and try Inyo’s “chef’s choice”: the Omakase — “to trust” in Japanese. The presentation alone is worth everything and, after dining here, I now trust Chef Kenny more than some people I know. You must order this 10-course dish 24 hours in advance.

If you want to excite your senses, I suggest trying the signature Mango Lobster. This dish is very colorful and tastes delicious. If beef is in the cards, I suggest the Beef Shabu Shabu; it’s thinly sliced beef with Asian vegetables — cooked tableside — in a seaweed broth (it’s an order for two — very romantic). Also try the Wasabi Filet, which is amazing; it’s a chargrilled filet mignon topped with a honey teriyaki glaze and served with Asian vegetables.

Inyo’s selection of classic and specialty sushi rolls is as good as anything you’ve had in New York or L.A. (or Japan, I guess). Ask if they have Toro when you’re there; it’s a fatty tuna that melts in your mouth.

Another awesome Ferndale restaurant that is really romantic is Assaggi Bistro. The cuisine at Assaggi is a creative blend from around the Mediterranean rim, inspired by the best offerings of Italy, France, Morocco, Spain, Greece and the Middle East.

I suggest you start with the Antipasto Plate, which comes with salami, olives, assorted cheeses and toasted ciabatta bread. Another worthy mention is the Lentil Pancakes, which come with sherried forest mushrooms with a Madeira glaze and vegetable chips. And, although I am not a big salad guy, I do recommend the Heirloom Beet Salad, which comes with candied walnuts and Maytag blue cheese.

The main courses are all so good it can get overwhelming, but a particular favorite of mine is the Braised Veal Cheeks in a succulent natural jus with Cambozola gnocchi and glazed root vegetables. Also, the Twice Cooked Moroccan Duck Legs should not be missed. This dish has a slightly sweet taste and was dynamite. It comes with a dried fruit pistachio cous-cous, sauteed spinach and a pomegranate barbecue sauce.

It’s not all about the meat, though, because Assaggi’s pastas are just as heavenly. A standout is the Butternut Squash Ravioli, which comes served in a brown- butter sauce with toasted walnuts and fried sage. It’s sweet and savory but not too heavy, either. Their Maple-Mustard Salmon is just as fantastic, with a unique combination of shaved fennel and citrus that really pops your taste buds.

Whether it’s a first date or a romantic reconnect, having an excuse to eat out and try a restaurant is always fun. Won’t you be my Valentine? Mmmm …

HELFY’S RECAP:

Inyo Restaurant and Lounge, 22871 Woodward Ave., Ferndale; (248) 543-9500.
Assaggi Bistro, 330 West Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale; (248) 584-3499.

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