"Black Eagle at The Bosco" is hard to speak, as Hamlet instructed his players, trippingly on the tongue. The compound name seems intended to stick itself in your brain as that weird place that always comes to mind. It's not that it's a difficult concept to understand: There are plenty of places in other cities where you can get one person's food in another person's drinking establishment (Via 313's Detroit pizza trailer outside of Austin's Craft Pride beer bar comes to mind), it's just that here in Detroit we've always seemed to be a little simpler in our approach. One owner, one identity, one menu with food on one side and drinks on the other.View more photos of Black Eagle here.
We digress. Black Eagle's separate name doesn't signify a separate space, or even a discernibly separate identity. There's no sudden changeover of music style or staffing. On their Instagram, they call themselves a pop-up, which is perhaps a bit of a stretch, considering their regular hours and continuous menu.
You've probably been to the Bosco before. It's one of those venerable establishments between downtown Ferndale and downtown Royal Oak that gets a lot of traffic year-round. If you were last there long ago, it might not look the same: It's been reincarnated for a few years as what the owners call "a polished and casual lounge." Strange artificial ground-cover is mounted on some of the ceiling, and large wooden benches and tables suggest the beginning of some kind of grand fantasy adventure, or at least a great place to play a session of D&D. (Fine, you can just hang out and chill with your friends.) The room is dim but not dark, and there's often live music. The bar staff is friendly but not overbearing, casual but not inattentive — all in good measure.
Black Eagle's food is handily on-trend, capitalizing on the recent mass market popularity of messy bar food, loosely adapting classic ethnic food favorites, and topping things with childhood snacks. Sandwiches and loaded fries make up the vast majority of the menu, and the two sides of the menu mimic each other neatly, topping styles shared freely between the categories — bar food in its best execution is simple to plate up while remaining tasty, with enough variety to satisfy most palates.
The sandwiches are all served on soft brioche sub rolls, a vessel that often finds itself overwhelmed by the contents placed therein; beware of catastrophic bun collapses. They're packed with flavors arranged in classic combinations. Try the Thigh Guy, a braised chicken sandwich with garlic sauce, tahini, fried garlic, fries, and pickled vegetables; or maybe the N.I.B, made of braised lamb with red onion, cucumber, feta, fries, and beet tzatziki. You might recognize these from the last time you got really good shawarma or gyros, readjusted to sit on a bun. They're exceptionally satisfying, but be sure you have a few extra napkins.
Also worth a mention are the Consuela (a chorizo/black bean/potato mix with too many other ingredients to list) and the Steve Martin (somewhat Southeast Asian, if we had to guess). It's not fine dining to put Doritos or flamin' hot Cheetos (respectively) on your sandwiches, but it's a secret that has been known for a long time — perhaps inspired by the walking taco, or perhaps by some late night creativity.
Don't ignore the fries. Do approach them with a fork. That there's a poutine but no chili cheese fries is an odd omission of a Detroit classic, but we're not too offended. The curry fries are topped with braised lamb, a yellow curry sauce, and some cheese curds and chickpeas, and are supremely satisfying with a light and acidic beer. The feta fries (add braised lamb for $3 extra,) are also particularly good; the slightly heavy flavor of beet tzatziki lifted by parsley and fried garlic works very well with the well-seasoned fries. The beef n' che fries — beef, cheddar, jalapeno aioli — are surmounted by those fire-engine red flamin' hot Cheetos. It's an almost disconcerting color, though not completely unnatural — but the flavors just work.
Black Eagle is a perfect fit at the Bosco; regardless of the "creative martini menu" and "sophisticated wine menu," the Bosco is definitely a beer drinker's bar, and the Black Eagle menu works magnificently on that level. It's a selection of enjoyable dishes — good, solid food — but not fine dining. They definitely don't have to be. Take your friends, enjoy a night out, and devour some tasty food rather messily. That's the best way to appreciate what's going on at Black Eagle (at the Bosco).To read last week's review of The Conserva, click here.