If you’re craving fresh, local food and a casual, waterside setting, then check out Coriander Kitchen and Farm. Owners Alison Heeres and Gwen Meyer have combined their experience and talents to create a family-friendly urban farm and restaurant in Detroit.
Roots run deep
“We both worked in non-profit food organizations and worked on community education on local food systems,” chef and owner Alison Heeres says. “We also both spent much of our time teaching people to cook with local foods and incorporate them into things they already know and like.”
Hard work and hands-on experience inspired them to be creative and more efficient with local produce.
Then, after Heeres and Meyer worked for small food businesses and learned more about the industry, they started the farm and catering business.
“We named ourselves Coriander because cilantro and coriander (the same plant) are some of the first seeds you can plant in the spring, and also the last plants that survive in the fall, so for people who are super attuned to local eating, it is a bright spot. Something to look forward to in the spring and something to brighten the fall when root vegetables are all we have,” Heeres explains.
Farm to table
Dedicated and determined, the pair ran Coriander and worked multiple jobs for the first three years.
“We were a two woman show for a long time,” says Heeres. When the first baby came along, they called themselves, “the two women and a baby show.”
In addition to growing fresh herbs and produce used in their cuisine, they prepared imaginative and delicious dishes for catered events, which helped gain them a following.
Heeres and Meyer hoped to expand the business and share their locally inspired dishes with the larger community.
“We wanted to create a place for people to get seasonally focused foods that was family-friendly and budget-friendly to make it more accessible to people on a daily basis.”
They found space at the Fisherman’s Marina in Jefferson Chalmers and got to work renovating.
When the pandemic hit, Meyer and Heeres had to adjust their plans.
“Opening a business during the pandemic when all childcare kind of disappeared was definitely a challenge, but we always knew that we wanted to have a family-friendly establishment,” Heeres says.
They kept working, bringing little ones they call the “farm babes” with them to the farm and the restaurant. Even though they started business as a dynamic duo, these hardworking owners realized it takes a village.
In addition to community support, Heeres says, “We are grateful to have staff to help us take our vision to the public fully.”
Coriander Kitchen and Farm opened the charming canal-side patio with outdoor and to-go dining in March.
“We offer locally sourced bar fare such as fried fish sandwiches and pasture raised beef burgers paired with a sizable plant-based selection.”
There are many delectable dishes, including appetizers, flatbreads, and salads.
“My favorite item right now is our Mezze appetizer that has marinated local asparagus, our farm radishes, and tzatziki made with our own herbs and grilled green garlic,” Heeres says.
If you visit their website or Instagram, you can see colorful produce, the delightful setting, and some of the incredible food and cocktails they serve.
Heeres and Meyer put lots of hard work and heart into their business, and have built an urban oasis.
“I love that it is casual and friendly for all sorts of people,” Heeres says, “We have lots of space for families to come and enjoy.”
Even with increasing responsibilities and growing families — farmer and owner Gwen Meyer recently had her second child — Heeres and Meyer continue to cultivate Coriander Kitchen and Farm in all seasons.
The patio is open weekends Friday-Sunday for canal-side dining or carry out. Since Michigan weather is unpredictable, dress for the weather, or snag a fire pit through May 23. Check their website corianderkitchenandfarm.com for hours and availability.
Follow Metro Parent on Instagram.