A Evening at the Forest Grill


Founder of Cheftalk.com
Staff member
Joined Oct 5, 2001
This past weekend I was in Birmingham Michigan with my lovely wife and spent Saturday evening at Brian Polcyn's Forest Grill.
The Forest Grill is both elegant and relaxed. You need not wear a suite and tie but if you do you will fit right in. The restaurant has a nice bar area while you wait for your table, windows all the way around the restaurant bring in plenty of natural light and on warm days there is outdoor seating.
We sat down and one look at the menu and I liked what these guys where doing. Brian Polcyn is the chef but his Executive Chef is David Gilbert. Together they have created an amazing menu. How many menus do you see Veal Cheeks, Halibut Cheeks, and pigs trotter? I really liked their menu and the food was great you can see some photos below.

We started off with the Foie Gras Torchon, Mussels with mayonnaise and frites. The foie gras was executed perfectly and the flavors were outstanding. My wife said the mussels reminded her of what we had when we were in Belgium. Next up was the charcuterie platter and the prosciutto d' Birmingham was excellent as was the duck prosciutto and the smoked salmon. The mustard jar on the table was filled with the house made mustard which was a perfect accompaniment to the charcuterie platter. For our entrees we had the veal cheeks and the pork confit both of which were excellent. We finished off the meal with the house made doughnuts with three dipping sauces and French press coffee.

During the meal and at the end as I was having coffee I thought about how perfect everything was. How so many elements of the meal were made by these guys, not purchased. Not smoked salmon, not the prosciutto, not even the mustard. Even the cocktails on the bar menu are all special recipes of the staff. It was great to enjoy such a well executed meal with so obviously so much care and thought put into each element of the menu. The finishing touch to the whole experience was the great service we received. 

Here is the fun part of the story. Chef Brian came out to our table (I mentioned we came all the way from Chicago) and we started talking. To say I was excited to meet this guy was an understatement. I started making my own bacon because of his book and it is one in my collection I reach for regularly. At one point I mentioned ChefTalk and how we had reviewed his excellent book "Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing". Chef Polcyn told me he was working on a second book which I was very exciting to hear about. Here is where the whole evening just threw me for a loop.

Chef Polcyn then told me that he was heading to Italy later this summer to do some research for his new book. He was going to a region near Parma to work with Chef Massimo. I asked him "Chef Massimo?". "Yeah", he said this guy is the king of culatello hams. To which I replied "You mean Chef Massimo Spigaroli? In Polesine Italy?". Chef then said, yeah that is the guy. 

In 1994 I worked with Chef Massimo Spigaroli when I was working my way around Europe. I met him while I was working at a michelin one star restaurant in Bourg en Bresse France "Restaurant Jaques Guy". Chef Massimo was friends with Jaques Guy and was the guest chef at the restaurant for a week while I was there and I got to know him during that time. Before he left I asked him if I could come to his restaurant in Italy and work. After a summer on the island of Santorini I made for Polesine and El Cavelino Bianco and spent a month there with him.

Chef Massimo and his crew were great to work with and it really brought back some excellent memories when I found out Chef Brian was going to work with him. I asked Chef Brian to sign my copy of his book and as he was signing it I told him you are the one and only person I have met that knows who Massimo Spigaroli is or where Polesine Italy is.

Chef Brian signed my book as follows:


Eat more pork,
Smoke more meat,
and make more sausage!

Chef Brian

If you are ever in Birmingham be sure to stop in at the Forest Grill. Make sure you make reservations, they were just name the 2010 restaurant of the year by the Detroit Free Press.

Links to check out:

Forest Grill : http://theforestgrill.com/

Al Cavelino Bianco : Massimo Spigaroli's website.  http://www.acpallavicina.com/

Review of Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing

Here are a few photos of the food.

Foie Gras Tourchon

Charcuterie Plate

Pork Confit with Bone Marrow

Mussels with Frites and mayonnaise



Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
Man, I am so jealous!!!  It sounds like it was an awesome meal, and what a great story about how small this cheffing world can be.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
Fantastic report, Nicko. Sounds like a restaurant we all need to visit.

And it just go to prove, as a friend of mine was fond of saying, that there are only 200 people in the world, and pretty soon you meet everybody.
Joined Nov 20, 2000
Great review, great story, but also great pictures! That really ties it all together. Pretty wild when you can meet someone like that!
Joined Mar 9, 2010
Old School is not lost according to these nice pics

Thanks Nicko for letting us all join you in your personal dining experiance

Joined Nov 6, 2004
      Food looks great...love the story too.  I'll certainly keep Forest Grill in mind.

   now...tell me more about this pork you speak of...  

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