This weekend’s Chill & Toast
event at Van Aken District
will serve as a sort of soft opening for Banter
and other operators who are gearing up to launch businesses both within and without the food-filled Market Hall. Chef Michael Schwartz will be previewing Michael’s Genuine, slated to open this spring. Chef Jonathon Sawyer will be previewing his as-yet-unnamed VAD restaurant, also on track to open in spring. Those providers will be supported by a flurry of activity that includes food trucks, outdoor bars and family friendly entertainment.
The event and impending opening served as incentive enough to revamp the menu of Banter (7320 Detroit Ave., 216-801-0305), which will celebrate its third birthday next week. Going forward, both the original bottle shop and poutinerie in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood and the east-side outpost at Van Aken District will feature the same menu. And as soon as this weekend, that menu will contain a bevy of new options.
“I’ve always said that we’ve been successful because of our menu, but it also limits us in terms of being more broadly appealing to a wider base of people,” owner Matthew Stipe says of the concise roster of sausages and poutine. “Going forward our menu will be a lot more interchangeable to allow people to try a wider variety of our offerings.”
A new slider menu, inspired by visits to the popular Green Dot Stables in Detroit, will offer 10 different options built around beef, chicken, catfish and others. Sold by the piece, the sliders can be mixed and matched as diners see fit.
New corndog options also will make their debut, with corny creations like a Mexican street corn-inspired version and a breakfast dog joining the classic batter-dipped all-beef hot dog already on the menu. Stipe says that from the start, he’s observed a groundswell of support for his meat on a stick.
“I feel like there’s this hidden society of people living in the shadows who absolutely love corndogs,” he says without a trace of sarcasm. “As an adult, we’re not supposed to admit that we enjoy corndogs, but there are a lot of people that do, and when they see them on a menu they go crazy for them.”
In order to make room for those new offerings, the poutine dishes will now be available by the half-portion, further encouraging the mix-and-match approach to dining.
Also on the horizon is an ambitious new cocktail list, created by partner Adam Gullett, a Porco Lounge bartender and founding member of the Cleveland chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild.
“Adam is one of the most accomplished and respected cocktail professionals in town, but we’ve never been able to really take advantage of his talent until now,” Stipe notes.