Working Class Outlaws Open Antihero with Chef Nick Erven at Helm
Working Class Outlaws – the Metro Detroit-based restaurant group known for Ferndale hotspots Public House and Imperial – announced the opening of their newest concept, Antihero. Officially debuting to the public on Thursday, November 29, Antihero focuses on Japanese comfort food with influences from Korean and American cuisine. The restaurant is inspired by Japanese izakayas, or casual drinking houses serving small shared plates meant to be enjoyed with friends.
At the helm of the kitchen is Executive Chef Nick Erven, previously of Saint Martha in Los Angeles’ Koreatown and his namesake plant-based American restaurant, Erven, which was named “Best New Restaurant” by Los Angeles Magazine and placed on Jonathan Gold’s esteemed “101 Best Restaurants” list. Chef Erven is a recent transplant to the Detroit area and is excited to partner with the acclaimed Working Class Outlaws group to bring Antihero to life.
Chef Erven’s menu is shaped by his Los Angeles roots and features raw selections, rice bowls, buns, dumplings, noodles and an extensive list of veggie-driven dishes. Stand-outs include a Crispy Ramen Egg ($4) with kewpie mayo, pea shoots, and caviar; “Chicken Fried” Tofu ($7) with soy-maple caramel, furikake, jalapeno, and cilantro; and Spicy Kimchi “Carbonara” Udon ($12) with pea tendrils, Spam crumbs, scallion, and a sunny side up egg. Meant to be shared between two guests, the Hibachi section offers three options, all served with seasoned rice and Chef’s signature “Fuck Yea” sauce – Carnivore (sliced, seasoned NY strip), Pescatarian (shrimp & scallop) and Vegetarian (marinated eggplant and mushroom). The “Fuck Yea” sauce is a mixture of a few different condiments, including pickled garlic ponzu, kimchi juice and chili-ginger salsa, inspired by Chef’s childhood habit of mixing all of the fountain sodas together at fast food restaurants to produce something magical. All Hibachi entrees are prepared by the guests on a personal grill at their table, offering a unique and interactive dining experience.
The beverage menu at Antihero showcases Japanese-leaning handcrafted cocktails as well as curated whiskey, soju, and sake lists. Antihero is the first bar in Michigan with a Toki Suntory highball machine, which stores whiskey and ultra-carbonated soda water at ice-cold temperatures and guarantees a perfectly-mixed highball every time. In addition to highballs on tap, specialty cocktails include the Nightly Advice ($13), a sake sangria with dragon fruit, orchid and lychee; the Tokyo S.O.S. ($12) with rum, mezcal, pineapple and Jarritos guava soda; and the Harajuku on a Sunday ($12), a colorful cocktail with tequila, midori, and orgeat. For a touch of luxurious rebellion, Antihero also offers “caviar bumps”—just stick yer hand out!—served with a shot of sparkling sake.
Antihero creates a lively and approachable scene emphasizing community, music, and art. The restaurant seats up to 125 guests in its 3500 square-foot space. Perfect for groups, Antihero has communal dining tables and several booths seating eight to ten guests.
The Working Class Outlaws team has featured three local artists to bring the restaurant’s inspiration to life. The main dining room features two futuristic murals by Glenn Barr, one of Detroit’s most celebrated underground artists, including one that illustrates an alleyway in Japan that houses the restaurant owners’ favorite bar in Osaka, Jazz Bar Top Rank. Additionally, tattoo artist Kadee Spangler and visual artist Shaina Kasztelan collaborated on colorful murals within the bathrooms depicting familiar Japanese anime characters along with original characters designed by the artists.
Antihero’s name is derived from the traditional antihero character in Japanese comics, often tragically flawed with a taste for rebellion—matching the old school hip-hop driven vibe of the new izakaya. Photos of famous antiheros in pop culture are displayed in each of Working Class Outlaws’ existing concepts, including Keith Richards at Public House and Johnny Cash at Imperial. The team decided to pay homage to all the working class outlaws, or antiheros, with their newest concept.
Antihero’s hours of operation are 4 p.m. – 12 a.m. Monday – Thursday; 4 p.m. – 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and 4 p.m. – 11 p.m. on Sunday. Reservations are not accepted and seating will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.