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Detroit Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


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It is interesting to see people sometimes question why the quantity of high end restaurants in the Detroit area (I emphasize area). One can tend to forget that Oakland County is one of the wealthiest in the country (even with the massive blue collar layoffs)...Also, the Grosse Pointes have no shortage of old money...

So it is not unexpected that there are an abundance of high end restaurants.

Expat Russ

Three Passions:

Food

Travel<=click to go to my travel website...

BBQ and BQ<=click to go to my blog about trying to balance great food and qualifying for the Boston Marathon

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It is interesting to see people sometimes question why the quantity of high end restaurants in the Detroit area (I emphasize area). One can tend to forget that Oakland County is one of the wealthiest in the country (even with the massive blue collar layoffs)...Also, the Grosse Pointes have no shortage of old money...

So it is not unexpected that there are an abundance of high end restaurants.

I think most people don't think there are *enough* high end restaurants, not that there are too many. At least, not enough really interesting high end restaurants. General perception is that Tribute is (was?) the only really word class restaurant in Detroit - compare that to Chicago, where there are at least a dozen (probably more).

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AREA I think is the key word here. Chicago population density allows restaurant location to be much closer than detroit. Bringing more return customers, more revenue, and utimately better restaurants. Detroit area has alot of money... but is the money willing to drive 45min to an hour and ten to get great food on a regular basis.

Cory Barrett

Pastry Chef

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I've herd only good things about Tribute...

Since the chef change, or just in general?

Pretty much in general, although I havent herd anything really about the new chef.

"cuisine is the greatest form of art to touch a human's instinct" - chairman kaga

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I was at Tribute a little less than a year ago - just before Yagihashi left. My friends and I had the full tasting menu. It was a solid performance, but not a dazzler... service was friendl(ier towards the end)y but not necessarily efficient - a few times, the wines were poored after the course had been served...

I know the new chef came from Le Francais in Chicago - which I visited under its original proprietor Liccioni... so I can't say that I know much about Yamauchi's cuisine. I know he's a very different from Yagihashi, and supposedly hand-picked by his predecessor.

Would love to hear recent reports from those who have visited!

U.E.

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

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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It is interesting to see people sometimes question why the quantity of high end restaurants in the Detroit area (I emphasize area). One can tend to forget that Oakland County is one of the wealthiest in the country (even with the massive blue collar layoffs)...Also, the Grosse Pointes have no shortage of old money...

So it is not unexpected that there are an abundance of high end restaurants.

I hate say it... and no offense intended... but even money can't buy good taste... :raz:

u.e.

“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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SLOWS BBQ: heard a lot of hype and gave it a try about a month ago. ill begin with the disclaimer that i am no bbq expert...at all. i ordered the half rack of ribs accompanied by a bevy of tantalizing sides (6 in total since 2 come w/ ea entree and i was dining w/ 2 others). the ribs: great smoky flavor...there is no sauce on it..just a spice rub. and tableside, you can choose from 5 different sauces: i believe there was a spicy one, sweet "carolina" one, vinegary one..."house"..and something else. i expected meat falling off the bone, which wasnt exactly what i received, but after getting over that aside, i enjoyed the meal. sides are in general excellent....and i was able to taste the pulled pork off a co-diner's plate..and i think id opt for that on my next visit.

other new things in oakland cty:

frittata in clawson (main st nr 14 mi). surprisingly inviting and cheery breakfast spot that i find far more enticing than the usual offerings (toast, breakfast club, ohop). a little pricier, though.

saw some new breakfast place on woodward (nr oslo) in detroit...detroit breakfast house and grill.not sure if this is a quick build-up due to the superbowl...or somethign worth checking out. on 2nd thought, a qwuick google seach yields that it's a venture fr the owners of seldom blues and sgb...has anyone been yet?

theres a new deli on woodward nr 14/15 mi...stan's? chain or independent?

new thai place in royal oak...

from what i hear, an excellent "tapas"-style place in windsor...the name of which eludes me now.

i must highly recommend a latte and croissant at cannella patisserie and creperie in birmingham..located on hamilton row across from sy thai... weekly (or often, daily) it feeds my pastry addiction.

and, although not so new, if you havent been, id suggest giving three: a tasting bar (windsor) a try. ive been meanign to make it back, as the menu changes often.

detroitegulleters: if theres anythign else out there worth trying, let it out... im 110% willing to make the drive!!

and lastly, ill have to concede to the former cmments regarding "high-end" detroit restaurants..ugh. too many that just are mediocre... and to add to that, not enough cheap hole-in-the-walls or independents with really really good food...<im craving the ethnic eats of nyc...

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It is interesting to see people sometimes question why the quantity of high end restaurants in the Detroit area (I emphasize area). One can tend to forget that Oakland County is one of the wealthiest in the country (even with the massive blue collar layoffs)...Also, the Grosse Pointes have no shortage of old money...

So it is not unexpected that there are an abundance of high end restaurants.

I think most people don't think there are *enough* high end restaurants, not that there are too many. At least, not enough really interesting high end restaurants. General perception is that Tribute is (was?) the only really word class restaurant in Detroit - compare that to Chicago, where there are at least a dozen (probably more).

I answered the way I did in response to this:

...

Also, with respect to Detroit in particular, I'm intrigued how there are a number of high-end restaurants (e.g., Cuisine, Rattlesnake Club) plopped into a city that is essentially a war zone. I've heard more than one media commentator call the city "Beirut". The contrast just strikes me as a bit strange, even surreal. I drove by Duet a few weeks ago, and it's this shining little beacon among boarded-up buildings.

I think there is a huge difference between high end (atmosphere and $$$) and world class...You can spend a lot of money and get a crap meal (as I'm sure everyone on here can vouch).....I would tend to agree that Tribute (honestly haven't been since change in Chef) is the only one that I have been to that I would classify as "world class".

Expat Russ

Three Passions:

Food

Travel<=click to go to my travel website...

BBQ and BQ<=click to go to my blog about trying to balance great food and qualifying for the Boston Marathon

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  • 2 weeks later...
I was at Tribute a little less than a year ago - just before Yagihashi left.  My friends and I had the full tasting menu.  It was a solid performance, but not a dazzler...  service was friendl(ier towards the end)y but not necessarily efficient - a few times, the wines were poored after the course had been served... 

I know the new chef came from Le Francais in Chicago - which I visited under its original proprietor Liccioni... so I can't say that I know much about Yamauchi's cuisine.  I know he's a very different from Yagihashi, and supposedly hand-picked by his predecessor.

Would love to hear recent reports from those who have visited!

U.E.

likewise, ill echo u.e.'s request for recent reports. im on my way out of detroit, but having missed the pleasure of dining under its previous chef, would still like to see what they have going on. any detailed reports? who is the charge of pastries there now that cbarre left?

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  • 3 weeks later...
hi all - i have 1 free saturday to explore detroit.  What should i eat? I will be in the downtown area (no car, so not able to travel out) and just want to explore and have a great meal.  Thanks!!!

Catch the Tunnel Bus (schedule) (map) to downtown Windsor, Ontario. Wander around. Eat at La Cuisine (review) or Cook's Shop/Pasta Shop.

HeatherM, can you offer any other downtown Windsor info or comments about my suggestions?

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

"Imagine all the food you have eaten in your life and consider that you are simply some of that food, rearranged."  -Max Tegmark, physicist

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Might I encourage a stop at Small Plates. As the name suggests it is an appetizer restaurant. They have composed dishes as well as pizzas and cheese plates. It is on Broadway I beleive right behind the Opera House. Happy downtown dining.

Yours in Food,

James Valvo

Chef de Cuisine

Tribute

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Might I encourage a stop at Small Plates.  As the name suggests it is an appetizer restaurant.  They have composed dishes as well as pizzas and cheese plates.  It is on Broadway I beleive right behind the Opera House.  Happy downtown dining.

Yours in Food,

James Valvo

Chef de Cuisine

Tribute

Small Plates

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

"Imagine all the food you have eaten in your life and consider that you are simply some of that food, rearranged."  -Max Tegmark, physicist

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Small Plates is one of my favorites. You can jump on the People Mover to get there from downtown if the weather isn't good for a walk (it's probably about a mile from the Renaissance Center). Seldom Blues in the Renaissance Center was just named "Restaurant of the Year" by the Detroit Free Press. I'm not sure about the label, but I like the restaurant - they have live jazz in the evenings. For an interesting twist you might try the new breakfast restaurant - Detroit Breakfast House on Woodward. I haven't been there yet but have heard good things about it. And no visit to Detroit would be complete without a Coney Island visit - either American or Lafayette.

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thanks for the suggestions - they look great!

someone also mentioned "greek town" to me.  Is this worth checking out?  Is it like little italy/chinatown?

Greektown has restaurants, bakeries, shops, a historic church, and a casino. It's much smaller, more touristy, and less "authentic" than NYC's Little Italy and Chinatown. It might be fun for a lunchtime excursion, but there are better places for dinner.

I'd still vote for Windsor. One trip, two countries -- can't beat that!

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

"Imagine all the food you have eaten in your life and consider that you are simply some of that food, rearranged."  -Max Tegmark, physicist

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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someone also mentioned "greek town" to me. 

Greektown is two blocks of "cheez" if you ask me. It's mostly dominated by the Greektown casino now - lots of the restaurants accept their comps. There is a bakery (whose name is escaping me but it starts with an "A") that is fabulous though. Sweet Georgia Brown is in Greektown, and that is a decent restaurant. The new Mosaic restaurant is there too - I haven't tried it. It is owned by the daughters of the guy who owns half of Greektown, and I went to middle school with one of them...

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someone also mentioned "greek town" to me. 

Greektown is two blocks of "cheez" if you ask me. It's mostly dominated by the Greektown casino now - lots of the restaurants accept their comps. There is a bakery (whose name is escaping me but it starts with an "A") that is fabulous though.

That would be Astoria Pastry Shop.

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

"Imagine all the food you have eaten in your life and consider that you are simply some of that food, rearranged."  -Max Tegmark, physicist

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Wow. This looks like *the* place for lunch.

Rowland Café

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

"Imagine all the food you have eaten in your life and consider that you are simply some of that food, rearranged."  -Max Tegmark, physicist

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Wow...new to the forums after browsing the site for a year...I just read the entire topic - 130+ posts over 4 years, so please forgive my meandering reply. For the record - I'm a lifetime Detroiter, I've lived/worked in almost every part of the Metro area, I'm an alumni of one of our Community College culinary schools (although I'm not currently in the food biz), and I'm a serious food traveler.

And with all due respect to some of the better places mentioned in the topic, I save most of my restaurant $ for when I travel. As others have noted, there are very few if any "destination" or "world-class" restaurants. There's also a relatively small supply of really good bistro-level restaurants. I have my cheap and ethnic favorites like everyone. I think you see a lot of these situations:

1) The "institution" that's resting on it's name. I had a much anticipated and very mediocre meal at the Whitney, and it sounds like others agree that they've outlived their reputation. Mario's (Italian) in Detroit was a huge disapointment. Golden Mushroom closed. The posts in the topic show a negative progression over the years at Tribute (although I've never been). Even at Boocoo (Hour's best in 2004, I think) I've seen the service slip dramatically, and read a snippy interview with the owner where they talk about how they "can't please everyone".

2) A promising new place, that has to dumb down the menu. I ate at Agave (Latin/Mexican) three years ago and loved it. I still go back when weather is good for the patio seating, but the menu is now closer to Chi-Chi's than Nuevo Latino. I see it all the time, maybe with just one or two dishes, but the average customer here clearly can't handle the more creative or authentic cusine that's easier to find in Chicago or on the coasts.

Maybe that's why you see a large top tier of restaurants and few bistro-level places. Any city our size has it's upper-class, and based on a few successful things (the Detroit Institute of Art, Michigan Opera Theater is the nation's second largest), it's clear that there's some cultural awareness here. But the vast majority of the area is blue-collar, and much of the middle-class consists of engineers living in the suburbs - not a recipe for creative cuisine.

Suburban living adds to the problem. I don't think I've ever been to a city with less of a focus on it's downtown. Now lots of the big names are downtown - Opus One, the Rattlesnake Club - but these are drive, valet park, drive home places. Bistro level places fit better in walkable areas, and in spite of the hoopla over casinos and stadiums, there's no shopping or reason to walk anywhere in the city center. It's no coincidence that most of the recomendations in this topic are in suburbs with decent mini-downtowns - Birmingham, Ferndale, Royal Oak, Ann Arbor, Rochester, Dearborn, Plymouth, and Northville. Maybe Pontiac and Mt. Clemens if you're bar-hopping.

I really realized how behind we were when I wrote a paper on Rick Bayless for culinary school last year. At the time, Detroit had only one restaurant with membership in Chef's Collaborative (local, sustainable, artisan food organization). Chicago and New York had a dozen or so. So I started searching the web for other similar organizations with Detroit chapters - nothing. Found 3 in West Michigan, but nothing in Detoit. Maybe someone else in the Forum can correct me, but it seems like we're completely missing the artisan, local, and sustainable food trends.

Forgive my rant, if you're still reading, and sorry to the readers who just wanted a lunch idea. Let me ponder and perhaps I'll post some suggestions

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Maybe someone else in the Forum can correct me, but it seems like we're completely missing the artisan, local, and sustainable food trends.

... a far cry from upscale dining (and certainly not one of my favorites) - but I believe that Zingerman's deserve's a mention.

U.E.

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

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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Maybe someone else in the Forum can correct me, but it seems like we're completely missing the artisan, local, and sustainable food trends.

... a far cry from upscale dining (and certainly not one of my favorites) - but I believe that Zingerman's deserve's a mention.

U.E.

I was just going to mention Zingerman's as well. :smile:

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Maybe it's the winter weather (that's setting in), but I have been craving some hearty European food - like goulashes and choucroute and the like...

Does anyone in the Detroit metro area know of any good Austro-Hungarian type of restaurants? The only one I've heard of is out in Ann Arbor - a Cafe Amadeus? I think I've walked by it a couple of times when I've been to the town, but never looked at the menu nor gone it - anyone got any info? Other suggestions?

U.E.

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

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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