Experiencing Great Restaurants and Delicious Libations

Posts tagged “Detroit

Mabel Gray – Hazel Park MI

23825 John R. Rd. Hazel Park, MI

Visited February 2017

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2017 Restaurant of the Year – Detroit Free Press

A month ago we made reservations at Mabel Gray for a birthday dinner. As luck would have it, the day of our dinner Mabel Gray was named Restaurant of the Year by the Detroit Free Press. There was a buzz in the air.

This surprisingly small restaurant is a redo of an old diner – or partial redo. It still looks and feels like an old diner, outfitted with thrift store mismatched china and 1970’s vacation souvenir and 4th of July water glasses. I am not sure if the design intent was to be eclectic, campy, clever, or just cool. My impression was that it has a 70’s suburban recreation room vibe. It was packed with anxious patrons, including the Mayor of Detroit, ready to find out what the buzz is all about.

The staff was impressive – engaging, friendly, attentive, and described the details of the dishes as if they had prepared each themselves.

The Food:

We started with a few shared plates. Duck Heart Yakitori, Root Vegetable Salad, Kabucha Squash, and Crispy Yukon Gold Potatoes. All were delicious, beautifully presented – with only one reserved review on the duck hearts…because they were duck hearts.

The entree courses ordered at the table included Fried Pork Belly Salad, the Lamb Chops and the House Gnocchi. The reviews of the Pork Belly and the Lamb Chops were very good, and the presentation was appealing – but I had the Gnocchi. It was the only disappointing dish of the evening.  It was soupy, and extremely garlicky -too garlicky for my taste (and I like garlic). The plating /presentation also was not appealing at all, more like a diner dish from the building’s previous incarnation.

The desserts were all big hits – and we ordered one of each of the items from the dessert menu to share. The evenings selection included Heath Chocolate Cake, Goat Cheese Cheesecake and the Bananas Foster. All looked great, and all tasted great – a perfect end to the evening.

With the exception of my entree, the food was delicious. I do plan on returning for the Chef’s Tasting Menu. You do not know what you will be getting, but based on what we experienced, it promises to be inventive and interesting – I just hope there is no Gnocchi on the menu when I return.


Grey Ghost Detroit – Grand Opening

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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.

Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails – Detroit

In the Park Shelton Building

15 E. Kirby at Woodward Avenue, Detroit MI

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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.

Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails Website

Antietam – Detroit

1428 Gratiot Detroit MI


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Visited January 30, 2015

In keeping with my policy of not using a flash, and being as inconspicuous when taking photos as to not disrupt any other diners in the restaurants, my photos – especially of the food – in this post does not do it justice. Luckily the owner of the restaurant, Gregory Holm is a photographer. On Antietam’s website, you can see perfect photos of the food and drink shown with the finest crystal and china. The reality is somewhere in-between our photos. The glassware, bowls and plates we received were of the more standard variety – but the wood plank that my whitefish was served on was a nice presentation. Although the vessels were not exceptional – what they contained was exceptional.

The specialty drinks were unusual and boldly delicious. The currently trendy ubiquitous beet was included in a drink, which I had to try and was quite good. The classic Aviation cocktail here has a green layered look that really paired the sweet and sour aspects of the drink perfectly. The flavors blended in each sip tasting like a delicious sour hard candy.

The food was also very delicious, earthy and fresh. I tried the escargot with sautéed wild mushrooms, the carrot tart with heirloom carrots and brussel sprouts, and the whitefish with squash puree and pepita pesto. The one dish that did not meet the same presentation and taste level was the soup. The presentation was a little sloppy and I do not even remember what type soup it was – it was just not memorable. What was memorable were the beignets, of course.

The building  (actually two buildings) that house the restaurant are historic Art Deco buildings on a rather deserted stretch of Gratiot Avenue on a cold winter Friday night. After entering through a billowing drape airlock into a small space with a very pleasant and sparkling receptionist, I was quickly taken to my table in the other building. It is a slightly larger room with tables and a small bar. With tin ceilings, wood paneling, one wall draped with a dark velvet drape, and an interesting tile pattern on the floor, the space is warm and luxurious. The lighting is from pendant fixtures of various shade styles – individually they are nice, together in this relatively small room a few too many different types for my taste.  The chairs in the dining room I was surprised to see. They are contemporary chairs with thin faceted backs that pair well with the overall decor. I did not sit on one, but want a set for my dining room, what a great design!

With all of this being said, the elephant in the room is the epic fail of the initial opening of this restaurant, and the vague statements and  equally vague talk on the street and in the press about the closing of Antietam after a week. How can one of the most anticipated upscale restaurant openings of the year have the chef and bartender leave after one week – even with enthusiastic reviews?   The owner’s vague explanation was  “Communication was not where it needed to be” .  He has now regrouped and reopened Antietam after bringing in a team of chefs and bartender from New York.

There is still something that is very odd about the closing – how it happened ….and that it happened.  After reading the reviews from the initial opening, and eating there myself recently, the issue does not seem to be the food. There are many great restaurants in the City, with beautifully detailed rooms and exceptional food. Can I recommend that you spend your money at Antietam? I will be vague, I do not know…

Gold Cash Gold (PREVIEW) – Detroit MI

“A Modern Farmhouse Kitchen”

In the Historic Corktown Neighborhood, 2100 Michigan Avenue Detroit MI

On the same block as Slows Bar Bq, Astro Coffee, and Sugar House Detroit.


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November 30, 2014

I was invited as a guest to preview the newest addition to Detroit’s fast growing restaurant scene – Gold Cash Gold.

This former pawn shop has been transformed into a self-proclaimed “modern farmhouse kitchen” under the direction of Phil Cooley (Slows and Ponyride). Chef Josh Stockton, as I researched online, brings his culinary experience from the Culinary Institute of America,…. and he brings his pigs from Tennessee (really). I also discovered that he worked at the Daniel Boulud Brasserie in the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas (I have dined there –  and it was supurb).

The Preview went off without a hitch. The food was delicious. I recommend the Chef’s Plate Appetizer, the Fried Chicken, the Frites, and the Polenta Desert. The light levels were low and I didn’t want to use a flash for my pics to disturb the patrons, but the food looked even better “in person”.

The Dad’s Trophy cocktail was very good as well. Check out the names of the craft cocktails when you go….very clever.

The space is warm, comfortable and friendly. The ceiling is made from recycled furring strips from the demolished walls and the eagle flooring is recycled from a school gym. The iconic “GOLD CASH GOLD” signage in a new reimagined gold version was installed on the facade today just before the preview. It is a catchy and humorous nod to the pawn shop that previously occupied the building.

I will be back after it opens and update my post when I have sampled more items on the menu.

Opening day may be as early as this Saturday, December 6th.

Click here for all of my Detroit Restaurant posts.

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

Click here for all of my Detroit Restaurant Posts