Experiencing Great Restaurants and Delicious Libations

Archive for October, 2014

Dime Store – Detroit MI

In Chrysler House (The Dime Building) Detroit MI

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Visited October 17 2014

I had dinner with friends on my first visit to the Dime Store, a new restaurant and bar in Detroit. It is in an interesting, fun and casual space in the Chrysler House (The Dime Building).  We had a varied selection from the menu which is mostly sandwiches, salads and sides. I had the Cauliflower Gruyere soup and the Beet & Squash sandwich. Both I do highly recommend.

The decor is a fun concoction of old chairs ,coffee makers; neon script and chalkboard art. Chunky nugget glass pendant lights hang from a spagetti mess of cords.  An Eisenhower poster and yellow mesh drapes make the “private” dining room unique. Tables along the large windows offer a great view of the sidewalk and street – it is great to see lots of people walking around downtown Detroit.

It is also open for breakfast. The menu looks great… if only I worked downtown.

Visit the Dime Store Website

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Top of the Pontch – Detroit MI

In the Hotel Pontchartrain, Detroit MI

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At the top of a newly renovated hotel, the Top of the Pontch is a restaurant and bar with a great view of Downtown Detroit and Windsor Ontario Canada across the river. I had no idea what to expect, and not entirely sure how to describe the restaurant.

The first thing that I noticed is that the it is very spacious, with wide aisles and tables placed with a copious amount elbow room between. There is a raised level with the bar and some small tables which look out over the backs of rounded booths for a view of the Detroit River and southwest Detroit. The booths provide a very private exclusive dining experience- right in the middle of the restaurant. The windows of the restaurant are a series of large prow like alcoves with floor to ceiling glass at a 45 degree angle from the main dining room.

This is where the confusion begins for me. The corner windows could be the signature for the restaurant, where every table is in a room with a view. In business, the corner office is the coveted space with the best view – saved for the CEO. Here every table around the perimeter of the restaurant could be a coveted table, featuring the two walls of glass – something no other restaurant in Detroit has. I wanted to stand at the very corner of the prow and experience the view high above the city. Unfortunately the table layout inexplicably ignores this feature. The 4-top tables are placed as if the glass prows and view do not exist. Instead of orienting the tables at the 45 degree angle within the alcove – so that everyone has a view out the window and embraces the unique feature of the space- the tables are lined up as if the wall was flat and half of the diners have their backs to the view.

Now on to the decor. The calm off-white and caramel tone interior in punctuated by tall internally illuminated urns. A streamlined glossy caramel ceiling feature is illuminated by a line of cove lights highlighting sparsely placed art glass elements – too sparsely placed. Compared to art glass installations I have seen by glass artist Dale Chihuli, this seems scattered and unfinished.  Perhaps they are waiting for a second shipment? If not, I think placing the art glass in groupings would have  been a more impressive installation.

Another feature that just seemed out of place was the column treatment. In what is a fairly sophisticated room, where did the bubbling column covers with blue LED lights come from? These bubbling disco-era mainstays, and the streamlined cove ceiling feature made me feel like I was on an 80’s cruise ship.

The Food? Well we went here for an after dinner drink, so we did not sample any of the menu items. We did review the menu and it looks interesting. I think I will be back to try a few selections, but will sit with my back to the bubble columns, blue light is harsh on skintones. Oh, by the way the craft cocktails were perfectly prepared and were delicious.

 

UPDATE:

Since posting my review of the  Pontchartrain I came across another review of the hotel , also commenting on the “Cruise ship- style decor”…so guess I was not the only one that observed that reference.

Top of the Pontch Website

 


Bar Rouge – Washington DC

Located in the Hotel Rouge, Washington DC

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Kimpton Hotel on Dupont Circle.


Zentan – Washington DC

In the Donovan Hotel, Washington DC

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Located in the Donovan House Hotel on Thomas Circle in DC, Zentan proved to be a great choice for dinner and a drink.

The bartender’s were true mixologists, I ordered a greenhat gin martini, which is from a local DC distiller. I also tried a drink the bartender had created for their new drink menu. It is called Wasabi Hypotenuse. It was interesting, bright, and a little fruity with a great red color. On top was “wasabi air” , a wasabi infused foam.

The food at this self described “Modern Asian” restaurant was good.  I had the Hotate from the Robata Grill (scallop skewer), and the dino kale salad which was exceptional. I also had “goldeneye” Maki. It has sweet potato, seasonal mushrooms, taro root, crispy shallots and avocado dressing. It was a little moist, but had really good flavor.

The restaurant interior was well done (with the exception of the purple neon backglow coming from the “Cocktails” and “Rooftop”  sign in the window). The bar was comfortable, with the sushi bar at the far end. The bartenders were great to talk to.

Donovan House is a Kimpton Hotel, which might become my new favorite hotel chain!