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Why isn't Detroit a Restaurant City?


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nsxtasy:Your last comments were very interesting indeed. I have a question -In your opinion(sp?) what would be a reasonable  per capita ratio between population and really, really really, really good restaurants? How many places per person, or how many people per place.

I don't think it's a linear relationship. IOW, just because a city is twice or half as big doesn't necessarily mean that it has twice or half as many really, really, really, really good restaurants.

Hey, can we call them "R4" instead of really, really, really, really?

Ann Arbor is not a suburb of Detroit.  No place that is an hour's drive away is a suburb.  It takes longer to get from Detroit to Ann Arbor than it takes to get from NYC to Rye, New York.  And you know what?  Rye is not a suburb of NYC.

That's ridiculous; of course it is! Heck, Stamford and Greenwich and much of Fairfield County are suburbs of New York, towns in which large numbers of commuters drive or take the train into the city every day.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but outside of prime commuting times, my recollection is that it's more like 35-40 minutes between AA and the RenCen, not an hour.

As to what is, and isn't, part of a metropolitan area, what is a reasonable time someone would be expected to travel to an R4 good restaurant? Because, when you live in a city of 6 million people, it's not unusual for someone to need to travel 35-40 minutes if they want to try an R4 restaurant, whether that means a Southgate resident driving to Pontiac, or a Grosse Pointer going to Novi, or a U of M professor going downtown. Heck, when you ask people from Indianapolis to name the best place in town, many will name Tallent, which is in Bloomington, home of IU, 50 miles away (and a lot further from the built-up areas of Indy than AA is from the built-up areas of Detroit). (Even though I disagree with the recommendation, that's what they'll tell you.)

Chicago, of course, is a much bigger city (although only half as big as New York), stretching over 100 miles north to south. So if you live in Gurnee and you want to go to the exquisite Tallgrass in Lockport, you will be driving a good hour and a half each way, NOT in rush hour.

Edited by nsxtasy (log)
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I agree with your statement about "typecasting," but it seems to me that barbecue is KC's entree to a higher level of dining -- like cheesesteaks here, it is an Everyman food tradition that has become the point of departure for bigger and better things, and without that base, those better things might not have caught on.

Oh, I am not complaining!!! I'm actually very thankful. It's just a very important fact

Man, I can't figure out the quotes!!!

Edited by ChefCAG (log)

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nsxtasy:Your last comments were very interesting indeed. I have a question -In your opinion(sp?) what would be a reasonable  per capita ratio between population and really, really really, really good restaurants? How many places per person, or how many people per place.

I don't think it's a linear relationship. IOW, just because a city is twice or half as big doesn't necessarily mean that it has twice or half as many really, really, really, really good restaurants.

Hey, can we call them "R4" instead of really, really, really, really?

Ann Arbor is not a suburb of Detroit.  No place that is an hour's drive away is a suburb.  It takes longer to get from Detroit to Ann Arbor than it takes to get from NYC to Rye, New York.  And you know what?  Rye is not a suburb of NYC.

That's ridiculous; of course it is! Heck, Stamford and Greenwich and much of Fairfield County are suburbs of New York, towns in which large numbers of commuters drive or take the train into the city every day.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but outside of prime commuting times, my recollection is that it's more like 35-40 minutes between AA and the RenCen, not an hour.

As to what is, and isn't, part of a metropolitan area, what is a reasonable time someone would be expected to travel to an R4 good restaurant? Because, when you live in a city of 6 million people, it's not unusual for someone to need to travel 35-40 minutes if they want to try an R4 restaurant, whether that means a Southgate resident driving to Pontiac, or a Grosse Pointer going to Novi, or a U of M professor going downtown. Heck, when you ask people from Indianapolis to name the best place in town, many will name Tallent, which is in Bloomington, home of IU, 50 miles away (and a lot further from the built-up areas of Indy than AA is from the built-up areas of Detroit). (Even though I disagree with the recommendation, that's what they'll tell you.)

Chicago, of course, is a much bigger city (although only half as big as New York), stretching over 100 miles north to south. So if you live in Gurnee and you want to go to the exquisite Tallgrass in Lockport, you will be driving a good hour and a half each way, NOT in rush hour.

well airfare search engines consider Philadelphia to be a suburb of New York (and I know for a fact that there are people who commute daily from Philly to NY for work...yeah, they're crazy)....but at some point it gets ridiculous if the definition is that elastic.

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Ann Arbor is not a suburb of Detroit.  No place that is an hour's drive away is a suburb.  It takes longer to get from Detroit to Ann Arbor than it takes to get from NYC to Rye, New York.  And you know what?  Rye is not a suburb of NYC.

That's ridiculous; of course it is! Heck, Stamford and Greenwich and much of Fairfield County are suburbs of New York, towns in which large numbers of commuters drive or take the train into the city every day.

There is a difference between a commuter town and a suburb. One might call suburbs "residential areas on the outskirts of, and contiguous to a city or large town." If they weren't officially part of NYC, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island could be considered "suburbs of Manhattan." A classic suburb, in my opinion, would be one that is largely dependent on the city which it "subs" for most things other than residential space, grocery stores and the like. It shouldn't take an hour on the train to get from a "sub" to an "urb" to work at your job or go to a restaurant. If it does, you're in a commuter town.

As to what is, and isn't, part of a metropolitan area, what is a reasonable time someone would be expected to travel to an R4 good restaurant?  Because, when you live in a city of 6 million people, it's not unusual for someone to need to travel 35-40 minutes if they want to try an R4 restaurant, whether that means a Southgate resident driving to Pontiac, or a Grosse Pointer going to Novi, or a U of M professor going downtown.

Au contraire. If you live in a "great restaurant city" I would argue that it absolutelyis unusual for someone to need to travel 35-40 minutes if they want to try an R4 restaurant. The issue is one of density, as I said before. If you have to expand your area to more than 2,000 square miles to not even equal the number of great restaurants in cities less than 1/4 the size, you're not a "great restaurant city." Heck, if we applied those same criteria to New York, we'd have all the way to Newark (which is, by the way, not a suburb of NYC) or even Philadelphia and New Haven (also not suburbs of NYC). Take a moment and consider all the cities I listed in my previous post. Most of them have more great restaurants than all of Michigan, never mind just metro Detroit, and their best restaurants are better than the most of the best Michigan has to offer. This is to say that at best one might consider the Detroit–Warren–Livonia Metropolitan Statistical Area an "okay restaurant MSA." But that's a long way away from "great restaurant city."

Chicago, of course, is a much bigger city (although only half as big as New York), stretching over 100 miles north to south.  So if you live in Gurnee and you want to go to the exquisite Tallgrass in Lockport, you will be driving a good hour and a half each way, NOT in rush hour.

But Lockport and Gurnee are not, in fact, parts of Chicago. And Chicago's status as a great restaurant city does not rely upon stretching the concept of "city" to include them.

Here's the thing: If a city is going to be a "great restaurant city" then that means that the people from the suburbs who are in search of a great restaurant experience go into the city to have that experience. If they have to take the highway all the way around to the ass end of nowhere on the other side of the city to find a great restaurant, I say that place is disqualified from being a great restaurant city. Especially since a place so described is unlikely to have a sufficient number of good restaurants, and certainly good restaurants of which most anyone would be reasonable aware, for one to say: "Great! We're going to [name of city]! They have awesome food and great restaurants there!"

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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well, now you've hit on what I'm interested in, for I live in the Rogue Valley of Oregon.

The small town of Ashland, pop. 20,000, has about 100 food establishments at any given time,

owing mainly to Shakespeare attendees and their desire for a nice meal. We have our legendary HIgh end place, New Sammy's, which draws folks from around the world, but isn't known by many right down the street. (You got it right Chef GAG). Folks plan their summer vacation around the plays they'll see and the places they'll eat.

Is it a restaurant town?

The side effect is that this intense # of places has generated an attendant food culture, with folks now being attracted to our area because of the food opportunities. The Dagoba guys, for instance, moved here from soCal. We are getting new grapeheads all the time, mostly Bay Area refugees..

Amy's Kitchen just built a plant and has contracted with local growers for product.

The Rogue Creamery guys came to open a wine bar, and bought a cheese plant instead.

So that's the jist of my interest, because I'm not sure it's about size, but intensity and hands on

foodlove.

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I agree with your statement about "typecasting," but it seems to me that barbecue is KC's entree to a higher level of dining -- like cheesesteaks here, it is an Everyman food tradition that has become the point of departure for bigger and better things, and without that base, those better things might not have caught on.

Oh, I am not complaining!!! I'm actually very thankful. It's just a very important fact

Man, I can't figure out the quotes!!!

LOL! Welcome back, ChefCAG!

FWIW, as one who lived in A2 for a few years, I would actually say that, in some circles, Detroit might actually be a commuter suburb of Ann Arbor! :wink:

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If a city is going to be a "great restaurant city" then that means that the people from the suburbs who are in search of a great restaurant experience go into the city to have that experience.

Huh? By the definition you're stating here, if a city has great restaurants in the suburbs, then it automatically is NOT a "great restaurant city". And I couldn't disagree more. People in many suburbs of Chicago can find great restaurant experiences in the suburbs, where there are quite a few R4 good restaurants. (Sure, many go into the city too, but many others don't.) We have some world-class restaurants in our suburbs, and have for a long time, going back at least to when Jean Banchet first opened Le Francais in Wheeling in the early 1970s.

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Another thing I note, and I meant to say this in response to an above post which claimed that ethnic foods are "well-represented" in the area, is the relative dearth of ethnic restaurants on your list.

With our large Middle Eastern population, how is it that we don't have any great Middle Eastern restaurants?  Can't we do better than La Shish?  Look at the threads here and you see recommendations for places like Mr. Kebab, which resides in a gas station.  (I'm not saying it's not a legitimate recommendation, but, c'mon, can't the area do better?)

I can't think of a single truly notable Thai, Korean, or Indian place, even though I know that some affluent suburban schools in the area have an almost comical proportion of Asians.  Hong Hua seems to be the only candidate on most lists for best, or at least fanciest, Chinese in the area.  (Who am I to argue, but I had a laughably bad experience the one time I went.)  Japanese is fairly well-represented, I guess, though I suspect on a national level there isn't a really outstanding example.  It seems to me Mexican is a joke in the area, outside of Mexicantown.  Ditto Greek outside Greektown (and maybe within too.)

What it boils down to, for me, is that it seems almost all of the "recommended" ethnic places in the area fall under the unusually good cheap eats category.  I think a true destination restaurant city, in addition to the quality cheap eats, needs to have multiple examples of ethnic restaurants at or approaching the fine dining level.

"multiple examples of ethnic restaurants at or approaching the fine dining level"...Mario's and Andiamo fill that requirement.

Andiamo is a mediocre "greatest hits of Italian-American cooking" type of restaurant.

but anyway.

since coming back to the U.S. I've lived in five American cities besides New York and Chicago. every single one of them has local boosters and media who purport that it "has the greatest diversity of ethnic and fine dining outside of New York and Chicago." my guess is that every city in America over a million people (and probably under) claims this. they can't all be right.

Why not?

cause the statement is, by definition, an exclusive one. (besides, last time I checked, both San Francisco and L.A. were part of the U.S.)

Metro-Detroit (Dearborn,actully) has the largest Arabic community in this country. Shouldn't that make people think that maybe we have really,really, really,really good Middle Eastern restaurants, 'cause we do :wub:

Then tell me, why didn't one single Middle Eastern restaurant make it onto your preceding list of Top 50 in Detroit metro? Please don't tell me Mediteranno counts.

And, if you're going to go as far as A2 on that list of 50, I personally wouldn't put places like Mediteranno and The Earle on before restaurants like eve, Jeremy Restaurant, and Emily's. Of course, this is your list.

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

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well, now you've hit on what I'm interested in, for I live in the Rogue Valley of Oregon.

  The small town of Ashland, pop. 20,000, has about 100 food establishments at any given time,

owing mainly to Shakespeare attendees and their desire for a nice meal. We have our legendary HIgh end place, New Sammy's, which draws folks from around the world, but isn't known by many right down the street. (You got it right Chef GAG). Folks plan their summer vacation around the plays they'll see and the places they'll eat.

Is it a restaurant town?

The side effect is that this intense # of places has generated an attendant food culture, with folks now being attracted to our area because of the food opportunities. The Dagoba guys, for instance, moved here from soCal. We are getting new grapeheads all the time, mostly Bay Area refugees..

Amy's Kitchen just built a plant and has contracted with local growers for product.

The Rogue Creamery guys came to open a wine bar, and bought a cheese plant instead.

So that's the jist of my interest, because I'm not sure it's about size, but intensity and hands on

foodlove.

LOL! I hope Chef GAG was a typo :laugh:

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And, if you're going to go as far as A2 on that list of 50, I personally wouldn't put places like Mediteranno and The Earle before restaurants like eve, Jeremy Restaurant, and Emily's.  Of course, this is your list.

FYI, Emily's is no more.

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And, if you're going to go as far as A2 on that list of 50, I personally wouldn't put places like Mediteranno and The Earle before restaurants like eve, Jeremy Restaurant, and Emily's.  Of course, this is your list.

FYI, Emily's is no more.

Really? When did she go?

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

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And, if you're going to go as far as A2 on that list of 50, I personally wouldn't put places like Mediteranno and The Earle before restaurants like eve, Jeremy Restaurant, and Emily's.  Of course, this is your list.

FYI, Emily's is no more.

Really? When did she go?

Several months back...looks like September of last year. Rick Halberg (owner/proprietor) has completely gotten out of the restaurant business (Emily's in Northville closed, along with the new and more casual [but still very good] Tutto Bene in Farmington Hills operated by, oddly enough, his daughter Emily) and is now working for Hiller's, a local upscale grocery store chain, as their food director (forgive me if that title isn't correct).

Here's a link: http://www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=9624

Hope that helps. It was a sad day for the local restaurant scene, but imagine the coup that Hiller's pulled to get him!

Edited by boagman (log)
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well, now you've hit on what I'm interested in, for I live in the Rogue Valley of Oregon.

  The small town of Ashland, pop. 20,000, has about 100 food establishments at any given time,

owing mainly to Shakespeare attendees and their desire for a nice meal. We have our legendary HIgh end place, New Sammy's, which draws folks from around the world, but isn't known by many right down the street. (You got it right Chef GAG). Folks plan their summer vacation around the plays they'll see and the places they'll eat.

Is it a restaurant town?

The side effect is that this intense # of places has generated an attendant food culture, with folks now being attracted to our area because of the food opportunities. The Dagoba guys, for instance, moved here from soCal. We are getting new grapeheads all the time, mostly Bay Area refugees..

Amy's Kitchen just built a plant and has contracted with local growers for product.

The Rogue Creamery guys came to open a wine bar, and bought a cheese plant instead.

So that's the jist of my interest, because I'm not sure it's about size, but intensity and hands on

foodlove.

LOL! I hope Chef GAG was a typo :laugh:

true! :laugh:

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And you know what?  Rye is not a suburb of NYC.

That's ridiculous; of course it is! Heck, Stamford and Greenwich and much of Fairfield County are suburbs of New York, towns in which large numbers of commuters drive or take the train into the city every day.

There is a difference between a commuter town and a suburb. One might call suburbs "residential areas on the outskirts of, and contiguous to a city or large town." If they weren't officially part of NYC, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island could be considered "suburbs of Manhattan." A classic suburb, in my opinion, would be one that is largely dependent on the city which it "subs" for most things other than residential space, grocery stores and the like. It shouldn't take an hour on the train to get from a "sub" to an "urb" to work at your job or go to a restaurant. If it does, you're in a commuter town.

Okay, I understand your distinction now, even though I would suggest to you that it is one that is no longer widely observed; most people use the term "suburb" to encompass those communities you call "commuter towns" as well as those more dependent on the core city -- and that's in part because many of those "commuter towns" were as dependent on the core city for those non-basic functions (employment most notably) as the closer-in places you call "suburbs" prior to the relocation of major employment centers out of the core city. I think the more noteworthy distinction might be that of the "satellite city" or "Edge City" -- the former being an independent urban center, like Newark, N.J. or Chester, Pa., where I work, that has been engulfed by the expanding commutershed of an adjacent larger city (New York and Philadelphia respectively), and the latter a new urban center formed amidst what had been bedroom communities of that larger city. To go back to Westchester, White Plains is a satellite city, and so is Rye to a lesser extent.

If a city is going to be a "great restaurant city" then that means that the people from the suburbs who are in search of a great restaurant experience go into the city to have that experience.

Huh? By the definition you're stating here, if a city has great restaurants in the suburbs, then it automatically is NOT a "great restaurant city". And I couldn't disagree more. People in many suburbs of Chicago can find great restaurant experiences in the suburbs, where there are quite a few R4 good restaurants. (Sure, many go into the city too, but many others don't.) We have some world-class restaurants in our suburbs, and have for a long time, going back at least to when Jean Banchet first opened Le Francais in Wheeling in the early 1970s.

I'm not sure that slkinsey's statement here is totally accurate either. Most US cities that I have heard called "great restaurant cities" also have at least one (edited to add: and usually several) restaurants of an "R3" or higher level located outside the core city. The ne plus ultra of fine dining in the San Francisco Bay Area, for instance, is located in Napa County, outside the usual Bay Area commutershed. The two best Japanese restaurants in the Philadelphia area are in the South Jersey suburbs and have been for years. I'm sure there are similar examples in the New York region; it's just that there are so many R4 restaurants in Manhattan alone that the ones in the outlying areas don't make it onto the radar screen.

But his point about overall restaurant density holds, IMO. The bigger a circle you have to draw from the core city center to get a list of "50 Great Restaurants," the less likely your city is to make it onto the list of "great restaurant cities."

Edited by MarketStEl (log)

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If a city is going to be a "great restaurant city" then that means that the people from the suburbs who are in search of a great restaurant experience go into the city to have that experience.

Huh? By the definition you're stating here, if a city has great restaurants in the suburbs, then it automatically is NOT a "great restaurant city". And I couldn't disagree more. People in many suburbs of Chicago can find great restaurant experiences in the suburbs, where there are quite a few R4 good restaurants. (Sure, many go into the city too, but many others don't.) We have some world-class restaurants in our suburbs, and have for a long time, going back at least to when Jean Banchet first opened Le Francais in Wheeling in the early 1970s.

I should have qualified that by saying "in general." Of course many of these places have great restaurants that are in outer areas. But the point is that these are not the restaurant that made these places "great restaurant cities." Chicago didn't need Le Français to be a great restaurant city, and San Francisco certainly doesn't need The French Laundry to be a great restaurant city. Rather, these are icing on the cake. So, while people in many of these areas perhaps don't have to go into the city for a great restaurant experience, in the large part that is what they usually do because that is where most of the best restaurants are located.

I would argue that, for any great restaurant city, one could exclude all of the suburban and exurban restaurants from consideration and the city would still be considered a "great restaurant city." On the other hand, I can think of no great restaurant city that could be considered such on the merits of its suburban and exurban restaurants alone, excluding the restaurants in the city. I realize that some Detroiters are making that argument here, but I have yet to see so much as a handful of examples of "really great restaurants" in the greater Detroit area (are menus like this and this really among the best metro Detroit has to offer?). But, let's say for the sake of argument that there are 20 "really great restaurants" in the Detroit suburbs. That's just not enough for 2,000 square miles. And, again, it's thus far not been made clear by anyone that any of the restaurants there are so great that they inspire excitement beyond the level of a "good but not inspiring" restaurant at an acknowledged great restaurant city.

I'm curious: What are the 20 best restaurants in metro Detroit? Or, better yet, what are 20 restaurants that can compete with the restaurants from great restaurant cities like NYC, SF, Chicago, Philadelphia, etc. Can someone provide a representative list with links to menus? There are, of course, other ways I suppose a city can qualify for "restaurant attraction" status. Primary among them would be having a reasonable number of outstanding restaurants serving food in a particular regional style that is not available at similar quality (or perhaps at all) in other places in the country. Some of the barbecue cities in the US might qualify under that definition -- which is to say that one would be excited to be there just for the food. But I'm still not sure that makes them "great restaurant cities" as opposed to regional attractions or one-trick-ponies.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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I'm curious: What are the 20 best restaurants in metro Detroit? Or, better yet, what are 20 restaurants that can compete with the restaurants from great restaurant cities like NYC, SF, Chicago, Philadelphia, etc. Can someone provide a representative list with links to menus?

One, maybe. Otherwise, crickets from my corner.

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

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On the other hand, I can think of no great restaurant city that could be considered such on the merits of its suburban and exurban restaurants alone, excluding the restaurants in the city.

I certainly would not call Detroit a "great restaurant city". But having said that, Detroit is very different in an important respect from most of the other cities that have been thrown around: there has been a flight of wealth out of Detroit proper and into the suburbs to a much greater extent than in most other cities. Thus, if/when greater demand for higher-end restaurants develops in Detroit, I'd predict that a greater fraction of the leading restaurants will be in suburbs.

During my time in Ann Arbor, I rarely heard people talk about dining experiences in Detroit proper or in the suburbs closer to the city. It was much more common to hear people talk about dining experience in Chicago (a good 3.5 hour drive).

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I'm curious:  What are the 20 best restaurants in metro Detroit?  Or, better yet, what are 20 restaurants that can compete with the restaurants from great restaurant cities like NYC, SF, Chicago, Philadelphia, etc.  Can someone provide a representative list with links to menus?

Here are some places recommended for various restaurant categories by readers of the Detroit News.

Here are a few lists of best restaurants published by the media for several other Midwestern cities:

Chicago (best new restaurants)

Columbus

Milwaukee

Edited by nsxtasy (log)
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There are, of course, other ways I suppose a city can qualify for "restaurant attraction" status.  Primary among them would be having a reasonable number of outstanding restaurants serving food in a particular regional style that is not available at similar quality (or perhaps at all) in other places in the country.  Some of the barbecue cities in the US might qualify under that definition -- which is to say that one would be excited to be there just for the food.  But I'm still not sure that makes them "great restaurant cities" as opposed to regional attractions or one-trick-ponies.

well...that's the debate about New Orleans.

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Here are some places recommended for various restaurant categories by readers of the Detroit News.

Seriously, WTF?? They list the olive garden as the best Italian restaurant in the state. The second best Japanese restaurant in the state is Benihana. It's good to see that McCormick and Schmick's edged out Red Lobster and Scotty Simpson's Fish & Chips (second and third respectively) for the best seafood restaurant. That list is a disaster. Maybe that truck stop with the nachos is the best place to eat...

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here are the menus for the best restaurants in Milwaukee that I've eaten at on my once a year visit to friends over the last couple years (a pretty small city and practically a suburb of Chicago...except that it doesn't ban foie gras):

http://www.rootsmilwaukee.com/menus/dinner.html

(I'll note that the cocktail list here is obscenely bad)

http://www.paysbig.com/dining/dreamdancemenu.htm

the wine list is here:

http://www.paysbig.com/dining/dreamdancewines.htm

http://www.bacchusmke.com/

http://www.sanfordrestaurant.com/sanford-r...ukee-dining.htm

http://www.lakeparkbistro.com/docs/menu.html

(ok, this one's not very inspiring but it's the best French restaurant north of Chicago and is one of the prettiest restaurants I've ever eaten at)

(neither did I include the menu for Campezuchi on Brady....which is far better than any Mexican restaurant in NY)

Edited by Nathan (log)
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Here are some places recommended for various restaurant categories by readers of the Detroit News.

Seriously, WTF?? They list the olive garden as the best Italian restaurant in the state. The second best Japanese restaurant in the state is Benihana. It's good to see that McCormick and Schmick's edged out Red Lobster and Scotty Simpson's Fish & Chips (second and third respectively) for the best seafood restaurant. That list is a disaster. Maybe that truck stop with the nachos is the best place to eat...

to be fair, that was a reader poll. heck...Zagat is a travesty in NY too. it'd be nice to see a critic's list for Detroit.

fwiw, my meal at the Rattlesnake Club was pretty good (albeit lacking in subtlety):

http://www.rattlesnakeclub.com/

Edited by Nathan (log)
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On the other hand, I can think of no great restaurant city that could be considered such on the merits of its suburban and exurban restaurants alone, excluding the restaurants in the city.

I certainly would not call Detroit a "great restaurant city". But having said that, Detroit is very different in an important respect from most of the other cities that have been thrown around: there has been a flight of wealth out of Detroit proper and into the suburbs to a much greater extent than in most other cities. Thus, if/when greater demand for higher-end restaurants develops in Detroit, I'd predict that a greater fraction of the leading restaurants will be in suburbs.

Unfortunately, those are exactly some of the factors working against Detroit becoming a great restaurant city. Never mind that you need people who go out to good restaurants and have an interest in good restaurants. You need people who can afford good restaurants. You need people who go out to restaurants for business (necessitating successful business economics), who are going to want conveniently nearby restaurants. Etc, etc, etc. But you also need to have some basis for creating excitement, creating buzz, creating a vibrant restaurant culture for the city. I don't see how that can happen when restaurants are spread around the outskirts of a 2,000 square mile tri-county area. It's also generally the case that suburban residents have kids, a family life including activities such as soccer practice and church choir rehearsal, a home with a mortgage and yard work that needs doing, a middle-income job and all those things. They're generally willing to trade restaurant greatness for convenience, big portions at reasonable prices and kid-friendly rooms. I'm not saying there's anything inherently wrong with any of these things (I grew up in a suburb of Boston and wouldn't trade that for anything). But these aren't exactly things that lend themselves to a vibrant culture of exciting, high-quality restaurants. Rather, these things tend to go along with higher incomes (including expense accounts) and childless people with disposable income. Not for nothing do great restaurants, bars, coffee houses and bookstores (etc) tend to spring up where middle class gays and lesbians set down roots in any density.

fwiw, my meal at the Rattlesnake Club was pretty good (albeit lacking in subtlety):

http://www.rattlesnakeclub.com/

I think it's interesting to notice the difference between what Rattlesnake is doing in Detroit and what Rattlesnake is doing in Palm Springs. The cooking at the California location (granted, it appears to be a special menu) is substantially more sophisticated. More to the point, the Detroit menu doesn't seem all that much more special than what they're doing at Henry's, my neighborhood local (which is a great place, but I wouldn't drive an hour to go there and it's by no means in the top 100 for NYC).

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Seriously, WTF??  They list the olive garden as the best Italian restaurant in the state.  The second best Japanese restaurant in the state is Benihana.  It's good to see that McCormick and Schmick's edged out Red Lobster and Scotty Simpson's Fish & Chips (second and third respectively) for the best seafood restaurant.  That list is a disaster.  Maybe that truck stop with the nachos is the best place to eat...

I'll agree that the list is painted with a *very* wide brush, but let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater here: Scotty Simpson's F&C is an absolute gem, and shouldn't be so utterly dismissed. Actually, McCormick and Schmick's isn't exactly what I'd call a great place, either. Overpriced, stuffy, and pretty dishonest to claim that they receive their fish *daily*. Garbage. I know it isn't true.

Still, that list is most definitely *not* put together by critics...it's a general population thing. "Vote for your favorites!"

To be fair, when Chicago enlisted the help of its "Tribune" readers back in the 90's to try to discover the best hamburger in the city, the paper received *tons* of people who wrote in the national fast food chains like McDonald's. Does that make Chicago any less of a restaurant city? As a post-script, Pete Miller's Steakhouse's billiard room won that little contest (and deservedly so), but it was a place that the critic chose out of ten suggestions from the locals.

Just letting you know that these kinds of things aren't exclusive to Detroit, and also that it doesn't mean that just because a F&C joint makes it on there, that it's automatically worse than McCormick and Schmick's. I'd eat at SS's forever before I go back to M&S...but they're quite different experiences/draws, too.

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