August 28, 2016
After months of anxious anticipation, many pop-up dinner events throughout the area, and teaser instagram posts of the construction – the permanent home of Grey Ghost Detroit is now open!
Just before the 4PM opening, herbs were carefully harvested from the planters around the patio seating area while a line formed at the door. At 4PM sharp the doors opened and the adventure began.
I grabbed a seat at the bar before they were all taken, and took in the atmosphere. There is a large bar with ample workspace for the bartenders, with rough sawn wood paneling and open metal shelving on the back wall. The bar countertops are recycled bowling alley lanes, refinished and stained. The dining room has large windows facing the street bringing in abundant light. I have not dined in the dining room yet so will have to update this post after I do.
As expected, the craft cocktails are delicious, balanced, and exuberant concoctions. Will Lee is an amazing bartender, with the acute skills to create the perfect drink just based on a description of favorite flavors. If you want to order off the drink menu, you will not be disappointed either. Among the highest quality cocktails around.
Off the menu I started with the Fried Bologna. Yes, Fried Bologna. It was really delicious! Served on a waffle, with cheddar and jalepeno. Highly recommended, for both the flavor and the novelty. Beef Tartare was next, followed by the Scallops Thermador with apple , cognac and green onion. perfectly prepared dusted with panko on the seared side.
On a subsequent visit, trumpet mushrooms with bacon jam were the perfect accompaniment to the Bavette Steak with avocado verde. The steak preparation was a little rare for my taste, but very choice cut.
I can say that the partners, and their families are “all in” with this endeavor. There is a friendly, but totally professional vibe here, focused on quality.
After attending The Chicken, The Pig, The Lamb, Seafood, and the Cocktail pop-up, It was well worth the wait.
Held at the Great Lakes Culinary Center April 15, 2016
A pop-up preview of the Grey Ghost Chef’s skills prior to their brick and mortar restaurant opening this summer.
150 guests at this sold out event enjoyed a seafood menu featuring Sea Scallop Crudo, Octopus roll, “bacon ‘n eggs” (salmon bacon with salmon roe on a parsnip hash brown), Rock Shrimp Hush Puppy, Pacific Halibut, and for dessert a Seaweed Ice Cream Sandwich with sesame cookies.
I thought everything was a home run. The other guests at my table were about 50/50 on liking the Seaweed Ice cream. Just attempting a seafood dessert was worth a taste.
With seafood not being a focus on their upcoming meat-centric restaurant menu, it was an impressive showing. And serving 150 people all at once with a description of the courses by the Chef was impressive as well.
I can’t wait for this restaurant to open!
2520 Michigan Avenue, Detroit MI 48216
Opens March 21, 2016
The long awaited Katoi will open next Monday, March 21. The well liked food truck parked across the street at Two James Distillery now has a brick and mortar home.
I stopped in during the preview to take a look. I must say that I am impressed with the design. I had seen some progress photos and thought that I would not like the loft like “abandoned-building-take-over-and-leave-it-as-is-and-call-it-cool” vibe. Well I was wrong on both counts. It is actually a very sophisticated dynamic design, and I really quite like it.
I did not eat, so can only comment on the space and the bartender’s skills. My drink was very interesting, unique and delicious. I cannot wait to return and actually sit in the dining room and have dinner. I think it will be fantastic.
Pop-up at The Meeting House, Rochester, MI
The Lamb – The 4th dinner in the “Ghost Tour” preview pop-up series for Grey Ghost Detroit, was a great success. It was held in Rochester MI to introduce the animal centric cuisine of John Vermiglio and Josef Giacomino to the suburbs before their brick and mortar restaurant opens in Detroit later this year.
The 6 courses were accompanied by available craft cocktails created by Will Lee, the Grey Ghost beverage director and partner. I was able to try a couple of the drinks and heartily approve. Will has an uncanny sense of blending different flavors to create a complex balanced unique cocktail.
David Vermiglio, the business partner was working the room making sure everyone was having a perfect experience – and we were. David and John’s mother was also there and introduced herself to me at my table. She is very proud of her sons and thanked me for coming to the dinner in a very sincere unassuming way – like only a mother can.
The courses were delicious, with cilantro jam, ale gravy, crispy olives, and vindaloo bursts of flavor accenting the lamb in the various courses.
The evening was complete with a snicker and laugh. What dessert can be created with Lamb? Well sheep’s milk cheesecake with lamb-cracker crust, of course (it was delicious as well).
(Note: I am not affiliated with Grey Ghost Detroit in any way other than being a big fan. I have had drinks made by Will Lee at various restaurants in Detroit, and was introduced to Grey Ghost by attending their second pop-up at Revolver in January. I have been to all of their pop-ups since. My review is based on their food which is fantastic, and also the people that make up Grey Ghost Detroit – they all seem fantastic as well).
March 10, 2016
I was excited to get a sneak peek of one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of the year. I got in – not only to get a look around, but I also was able to sample some of the great dishes. It was well worth the wait.
The bar side has a green tile wall as the backdrop. A large horseshoe bar with a black concrete countertop focuses on a metal tower backbar complete with a lucky Maneki-neco cat.
The dining room side has a mix of traditional Chinese elements – a large tiger painting and red paper lanterns. They are artfully placed in a loft like space with a high communal table in the center of the space.
Everything I had at the dinner was delicious. I sampled the pork belly, paper chicken, hanger steak and almond boneless chicken. An interesting menu item was the Sherry selection. they were well paired with the entree items.
I cannot wait for The Peterboro to open, so I can sample the rest of the menu.
In the One Detroit Center Building at the corner of Woodward and Congress.
Visited August 21, 2015
When I first saw a cartoonish rendering of the Townhouse sign and entry chewed out of the corner of a Phillip Johnson granite skyscraper in downtown Detroit, I was, well….“skeptical”.
After visiting there for the first time last night, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the buildout of the dining room and the glass dining pavilion on the north side plaza. With the variety of seating areas, different levels, 2 bars and a retractable roof, the 300+ seat restaurant actually has an intimate feel.
It was a beautiful evening, so we opted for an outdoor table which was a great choice. With One Detroit Center, the Guardian Building, and the Vinton building towering above, and the top of the Penobscot Building peaking over the Chase Building, it felt very “big city”, urban, and vibrant. There were a lot of pedestrians on the sidewalk, and vehicle traffic on Congress and Woodward (even with all of the construction for the M-1 Rail). All of the sights and sounds of a vibrant downtown are back in downtown Detroit.
To start, we ordered the Cauliflower, Sunchoke, and Mushrooms from the “Local Farmer” list and the Smoked Trout from the “Sharable” list. All were very good with interesting and creative accompaniments. The Trout was presented as spreadable rillettes with a green pea hummus, corn relish and small round toasts. With 5 of us dining, these 4 appetizers were more than enough to start the evening off well.
For our entrees, one of us ordered the Walleye from the “Commandable” list. The rest ordered burgers. The Walleye must have been good, there was no fish left on the plate. The $19 Townhouse Burger comes with bourbon glazed onions, white cheddar cheese and fries, and everyone seemed pleased. I ordered a plain “Build Your Own Burger” and added lettuce ($.75), White Cheddar Cheese ($1.00) Rosemary Garlic Aioli (N/C) and fries ($3.00) – it still came to $18.75. It was really good – maybe not the absolute best burger I have ever had – but high up on the list. The burgers are 10 oz. aged “proprietary blend” steak cuts, thick and juicy served on a branded wood plank.
What was disappointing and disconcerting for a restaurant touting its “red bison leather beverage menu”, it’s “library of libations” and a $19 “award winning” burger, is the obvious lack of training of some of the staff. First of all I want to say that our waitress was very professional, personable, efficient and well trained, but based on our interaction with the other staff members, I assume she was hired in that way.
We had a drink at the outside bar. After getting the bartender’s attention from chatting with another employee, we ordered two drinks off the “Craft Cocktail” page in the “red bison leather beverage menu”. With her back to us, after some time she turned around and set the drinks in front of us. There was no “craft” to the cocktail preparation, no visible pouring, measuring, stirring, muddling, straining, shaking, garnishing – just an average looking cocktail – although mine tasted very good. Paying the bar tab was equally as difficult as ordering the drink, having to flag down a different bartender to get my bartender’s attention.
We were seated in a booth with planters around us with a great view of the patio, the glass pavilion and the streetscene. We started by ordering appetizers from the one page menu. When the dishes were served, our food server could not identify the appetizers that he was delivering to our table. He asked another server nearby who also could not tell us which plate was which. It is not like the appetizer menu is that extensive with 6 items on the “Local Farmer” section and 7 items on the “Sharable” list. What a contrast when compared to Selden Standard and Wright & Co.’s food runners who can not only identify the dish, recite all of the ingredients, discuss how it is prepared and in many cases even state the farm that the ingredients came from.
When a round of “craft” cocktails were delivered to the table, again, the server could not tell my Sazerac from a friend’s Manhattan – and didn’t seem to care.
I understand that the Detroit Townhouse is relatively new, but it has been open for more than 3 weeks, and I would expect that the servers could at least identify the appetizers when they were served – of which there are only 6 on the menu. The presentation of the drinks and the food to the guests by the staff is equally as important as the quality of the environment and the preparation of the food.
With 300 seats, $12 cocktails and $19 hamburgers, management must take basic staff training seriously – or the Townhouse may be abandoned in favor of establishments that know the importance of providing knowledgable and attentive service.
That is the only thing that the Detroit Townhouse is missing, but it is a big thing for a restaurant taking a self proclaimed “immense pride in bringing you an experience you won’t find anywhere else”.
In the Park Shelton Building
15 E. Kirby at Woodward Avenue, Detroit MI
Visited May 22, 2015
Detroit’s string of excellent, exciting, high quality new restaurant openings continues with Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails.
Upon hearing that the interior was going to be “Chartreuse Green” I thought it was a gimmick – fun for one visit but would have no reason to go back.
I was so wrong. The interior is green, very green – Chartreuse green, slightly darker green, slightly lighter green, green walls, green upholstery in leather and ultra suede, the menus are printed in green ink, and even the plants are green (oh, yea). You know what, somehow it works, it inconceivably works.
We sat on the green sofa, in front of the green wall, next to the green hanging live plant display – and had a most delicious assortment of fresh interesting dishes and craft cocktails (yes, most of our cocktails were made with chartreuse).
The service was very precise, professional and friendly. The Recovery Park vegetable plate was fantastic. We also sampled the Twice Cooked Egg, Smoked Skuna Bay Salmon, Short-Rib Perogies, and Lake Superior Whitefish. It was all great, to the last green bean on the Whitefish plate.
This visit we didn’t have a reservation. I can’t wait to go back when we can sit at a table and really enjoy the experience. By the buzz in the room, and the smiles on the faces, a table might be hard to get for quite awhile. Based on the food, it will be worth the challenge.