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Go For the Food: Detroit gastropub serves up approachable mix of sliders

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DETROIT - Enough with all the downtrodden-Detroit talk: Green Dot Stables, a bustling sliders joint in an industrial area not far from downtown, may restore your faith in the city's future. It also will give you a whole new vision of the lowly slider.

The friendly gastropub's menu has 20 varieties, mixing the adventurous and the familiar. And with all of them priced at $2 or $3, there's no reason not to experiment.

There's the BCT, with bacon, cucumber, roasted tomato sauce and mayo. The tempeh: marinated tempeh, wasabi mayo and wakame salad. The Korean: beef patty, peanut butter and kimchi. And, as Green Dot's website proudly announces: "The Fried Bologna Slider is back!!!"

There's also a weekly "mystery meat" offering. Recent examples posted on Green Dot's Facebook page: goat burger with English cucumber and mango-habanero sauce; antelope sausage with blue cheese and apple chutney; roasted brisket with chive sour cream, sauerkraut and crispy shoestring potatoes.

Green Dot, an unassuming brick building, has been around since the 1970s in one form or another. The bar closed in 2011, and was reopened in March 2012 with a new vibe by new owners Jacques and Christine Driscoll, who moved back to hometown Detroit from San Diego to create something they'd never have been able to afford in California.

"It was more of a dive bar when we got our hands on it," says chef Les Molnar. "The only thing that was happening was cheap beers and sketchy times."

The sliders idea "just took off like a rocket," says Molnar, a Detroiter who studied at Chicago's Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.

Stories differ on how the restaurant got its name, but one rumour has it that the original owner named it after his stable. At least that's what a server said on a recent visit. Molnar's version has the original owner naming it after a horse that won him some good money. Either way, the Driscolls stuck with the theme, and horse paraphernalia abounds: harness racing photos, jockey hats, a golden horse statue on the roof and more.

On a recent visit, the place was packed with a lunchtime crowd of office workers, families, hipsters, federal border agents (the Ambassador Bridge to Canada is a few blocks away) and Red Wings fans. The TVs, on mute, offered a mix of horse racing, tennis and hockey.

The restaurant's popularity is evident in its seating policy: "We are a first come, first serve for complete parties kind of joint," the website warns. No reservations, no call-aheads. No fancy dishes either — everything comes in paper boats.

Don't get so carried away with the sliders that you forget to check out Molnar's impressive soups, salads, sides and desserts — all no more than $3, with plenty of vegan and vegetarian fare.

There are five kinds of fries: truffle and herb, venison chili cheese, le poutine, Cajun and regular. There is kale salad (quinoa-lemon-shallot) and sweet potatoes (thyme-pumpkin seeds-Port wine cranberries-maple syrup and Coleman's mustard vinaigrette). For dessert, there's the Corktown s'more (cinnamon-Nutella-Fluff). A recent special of bread pudding was crusty and luscious.

Green Dot's drink menu also is ample and affordable — everything $3 or less. The cocktails, fittingly, include mint juleps and horse's neck (brandy-ginger ale-bitters-lemon). In a nod to a nearby location, there's also Zug Island iced tea (scotch-triple sec-raspberry tea-lemonade-bay leaf.)

___

If You Go ...

GREEN DOT STABLES: 2200 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, 313-962-5588 or http://www.greendotstables.com

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