Fressing With Fishman: Havana In Ferndale
If you make the drive down Woodward to check out Ferndale’s latest surprise, you might think it’s a shlep, but it’s a lot easier than getting into Havana — even with the president’s recent changes — and you may be just as intrigued by what you find. Oversized leather couches and dozens of cocktail tables wrap around the oversized VIP room reserved exclusively for locker owners at Secreto Craft Bar & Bistro where Frank Sinatra casually croons over the speakers.
True to its name, there’s a secret: a humidor packed floor to ceiling with a world of tastes, from Honduras to Cameroon and Connecticut. For the better part of an hour, I watched as owner Ronnie Haisha anxiously scrambled to tell the story behind every exotic or boutique cigar he’d artfully cultivated for his clientele who either enter with a sophisticated palate or leave with one at his direction.
Haisha brims with enthusiasm for every cigar, every cocktail, every glass of wine or champagne, every appetizer and every entree. Haisha gives his grandfather, a Jewish businessman who married into his Chaldean family, credit for that enthusiasm and his attention to detail you’ll notice in everything from the floors to the lighting and even the bathrooms.
As I join him in his “conference room,” a small private dining room perfect for a business meeting or an intimate dinner with friends, Haisha explains he and his partners have just one goal — a sophisticated and careful balance, harmonized perfectly by the pairing of the right drink and the right dish, followed by a hand selected stogie to cap off your evening that won’t overwhelm your meal or your budget.
The menu should satisfy any palate, with salads, seafood, steak, sandwiches and even flatbread pizzas prepared by Chef Omar Mitchell. We started with his grilled lamb chops paired with wasabi smashed potatoes and asparagus. The plating was artistic, the lamb cooked perfectly and the wasabi kick made the potatoes one of many standouts on the menu.
From there we moved onto Mitchell’s zip burger sliders, certainly the highlight of my meal, a juicy burger served with sauteed mushrooms and onions on a delicious locally baked pretzel bun. Mitchell doesn’t serve the burger with any condiments or sauces, nor should he — like any good meat, you can appreciate its quality best when nothing masks the flavor. We followed burgers with a five cheese mushroom pizza, prepared with a garlic white sauce. Delicious to be sure, but what I really loved was the balsamic sriracha reduction that accents the pizza. Spicy and sweet, it was the perfect addition to an already impressive slice.
Before a cocktail and cigars, we wrapped up dinner with filet, plated with garlic smashed potatoes and Mitchell’s peppercorn cream and zip reduction. The six-ounce filet is sliced before serving and, like the zip burger, boasts a quality piece of meat and carefully selected accompaniments.
From a list of dozens, I tried two of Secreto’s craft cocktails. As Haisha promised, both fit the meal and the cigar he’d later suggest. Anyone that’s ever had a drink with me knows I’m partial to champagne and vodka and won’t touch much else; but Secreto also boasts a dozen craft beers on tap, another 50 brews in bottles and cans, an impressive collection of bourbons and scotch, and even its own walk-in wine cellar.
If alcohol isn’t an option, Haisha and his partners opted for top-of-the-line coffee and espresso options, making a midday break from the office to meet with a client yet another reason to visit.
Worried about smelling like smoke? Three six-figure HVAC systems ensure you won’t go back to work or home to your family smelling like an ashtray.
When it came time to light up, I tried to get out of my comfort zone and, at Haisha’s suggestion, smoked the San Lotano Oval, a cigar that boasts a unique blend of tobaccos and a unique shape. More medium bodied than I’d typically select, but the meal and the cocktails balanced out the flavor of the cigar and made me a believer in Secreto’s unique approach to an evening (or afternoon) out.
Mazel tov to David Colman, Michael Colman and Tyler Ross — the inspiring young entrepreneurs behind ROCO Real Estate in Bloomfield Hills. They launched just three years ago and last month announced they’ve now acquired more than 10,000 apartment units across seven states.
At Rockind Law, they’re celebrating 15 years of Neil Rockind making waves in the courtroom and delivering big for his clients this month.
Corktown’s Mudgie’s Deli topped Buzzfeed’s “21 Sandwich Shops to Try Before You Die,” proving what I’ve always believed — Detroit’s got the best corned beef in the country; you just have to know where to look.
Aaron Belen’s smash success in Royal Oak, Bistro 82, celebrated its first anniversary this month.
And Mazel tov to Josh Kroll and Danielle Weinberg on their engagement!
This is the first monthly column from Fishman. If you have a tip or a mazel tov, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.