Whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart, there’s something at Browndog Barlor for you.
By Dorothy Hernandez
Photography by Viviana Pernot
For families with young children, sometimes dining out can present a dilemma: Do you go to a “kiddie” restaurant where the specialties are pizza and workers dressed up as life-sized mice, or do you go to a more adult establishment — only to draw the ire of diners who would rather not sip on cocktails in the company of boisterous children during dinner time?
With two locations in Northville and Farmington, Browndog Barlor caters to kids who want fries with shaved chocolate and adults who want more creative fare to pair with their craft cocktail.
Co-owner Brian Scherle, 45, of Plymouth, who works as a physician assistant at the University of Michigan, says Browndog is a “triple threat with the sweet, the savory and the bar.”
Scherle co-owns Browndog with his partner Paul Gabriel, 37, of Plymouth. Gabriel is well versed in the craft of ice cream; his family owned and operated Stuart’s, a seasonal soft-serve ice cream shop in Novi. Gabriel, who studied culinary arts at Schoolcraft College, ran the business along with Browndog awhile before selling.
The Northville location opened in 2015, Gabriel says, and then they needed more space to make ice cream. They opened the Farmington location in 2016 and also acquired a liquor license, which paved the way for boozy concoctions and craft cocktails. After expanding in Northville, they brought the barlor concept there last year.
Browndog serves an approachable, crowd-pleasing menu featuring familiar dishes with a few globally inspired twists such as bulgogi sliders and Thai peanut tacos. Vegan fare is just as thoughtful and creative; for example The Veganator sandwich is seared barbecue-balsamic cantaloupe with caramelized shallots and roasted mushrooms topped with horseradish Brussels sprouts slaw.
They recently added Majid Abdelnour, a former mixologist at the Detroit Athletic Club, to the bartender staff. From the bartenders to the chefs, the creative team at Browndog brings a wealth of experience to the barlor that make it more than your typical ice cream parlor.
Of course, the main attraction at Browndog is the ice cream. The top seller from day one has been the Salty Dog, with housemade salted caramel, brownies and pecans. Kids love the aptly named Cookie Monster, which is blue cookie dough ice cream churned with chunks of cookie dough, cookies and cream, and housemade chocolate chip cookies. When it comes to boozy flavors, the bourbon pecan (yes, they spike the ice cream) is another favorite. Beside staple flavors, Browndog features unique seasonal offerings such as lemon lavender honey.
Ashley Duncan, 34, of Ferndale is Browndog’s ice cream chef and one of two pastry chefs on staff. After graduating from Schoolcraft, Duncan worked as a pastry sous chef there before working for Royal Oak-based 2 Unique Caterers for seven years. Then she took a position on a guest ranch in Wyoming, followed by a farm in upstate New York that provided produce for the Standard Hotels in New York City.
Since joining the Browndog team more than a year ago, she has introduced several flavors to Browndog’s repertoire such as the lemon lavender honey as well as ice creams inspired by personal experiences. When she arrived, she was surprised to see there was no pistachio flavor on the menu. Growing up in Dearborn where she loved Shatila Bakery, she created a Persian pistachio ice cream flavored with rose water.
With the unique ice cream flavors paired with a fun and flavorful menu, Browndog “attracts foodies looking for something really unique,” Scherle says, as well as “the parents who are so happy that they have somewhere to come with the kids who can have their ice cream … (and the adults can) have a cocktail.”
Lemon Lavender Honey Ice Cream
Yields 1 ½ – 2 quarts
4 cups ice cream base
2 tbsp. lavender (dried flowers)
1 cup lemon curd
1 tbsp. honey
Yields 1 pint*
2 whole and 8 yolk eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. butter, cold
Ice Cream Base
Yields 4 cups
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 cup whole milk, chilled
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. non-fat powdered milk
(optional, acts as a stabilizer)
Lemon Curd Directions
Prepare a double boiler. Whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a large mixing bowl. Find a pot with an opening a few inches smaller than the bowl you’ve chosen, fill it with 2 inches of water and set it over medium-high heat. When the water begins to simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and nest the bowl of the lemon mixture over it.
Cook and whisk the lemon mixture until it becomes thick and foamy, and the eggs cook enough so that ribbons of the mixture hold together and become thick. Whisk constantly, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl well. This should take about 20 minutes or when checked with a thermometer, it should read 170-180 degrees F.
Remove from heat. Whisk in butter until thoroughly combined. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the lemon curd, and chill in the refrigerator at least 6 hours or overnight.
Ice Cream Base Directions
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with a whisk until sugar is dissolved to make the ice cream base. Steep lavender in cold ice cream base for at least 48 hours or up to three days.
Strain and discard lavender. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, combine the strained base, lemon curd and honey together. Churn in an ice cream maker, freeze and enjoy!
*Extra lemon curd is great to have around! It’s delicious over pancakes or over baked treats, mixed with Greek yogurt or stored in the freezer for another time.
Watch SEEN in the Kitchen to see how to make the recipe:
33314 Grand River Ave., Farmington
120 E. Main St., Northville