Yesterday my brother and I paid a visit to a very unique and uniquely Detroit institution: Tashmoo Biergarten. Even with Detroit getting such media coverage that it’s the place where the “cool kids” are congregating nowadays, it’s great to see that hype made tangible.
Tashmoo is a temporary, european-style biergarten set up on a couple of vacant lots in the West Village area of Detroit. Rows of long tables (made of old doors) and benches, facilitate conversation with both friends and complete strangers alike.
In one corner there’s a makeshift bar serving Michigan brews — thanks, Tashmoo, for introducing me to Short’s ControversiALE — in another a couple of food vendors (we sampled some delicious pierogies including a special-for-Tashmoo pulled pork variety), and in another corner folks are playing games on the lawn. Scattered atop the tables are checkers, chess and backgammon, plus several decks of cards. Clearly, the intent is to hang out.
And that makes perfect sense given Tashmoo’s namesakes. Tashmoo is: a native american word for “meeting place,” the name of an amusement park on Harsen’s Island, and a sidewheeler steamship that was at one time one of the fastest ships on the Great Lakes. The SS Tashmoo dropped off Detroiters at Tashmoo Park on its route between Detroit and Port Huron. Sadly, the amusement park closed in 1951, and the boat sunk off Amherstberg in 1936. But Tashmoo lives on.
The brainchild of Suzanne Vier and Aaron Wagner, the biergarten operated for three weekends last fall, but this Spring gathering was a one-weekend affair. More weekends are planned for the fall, and I’m certain to be back, and thristy.