Thursday, October 9, 2008

Diamonds: Not Just for Girls Anymore

Originally published in D-Tales here.

Did you know we have no fewer than seven AAA-rated four-diamond restaurants in the area?

Of course you didn't. Well, we do. I've noted previously that Iridescence is Detroit's only four-diamond restaurant, but there are six more in the immediate metro area which also deserve some attention.

Every year the American Automotive Association grants the prestigious Four-Diamond Award to America's leading restaurants, an honor only about 3% of AAA's 60,000 rated restaurants receive.

So what other restaurants here make the cut?

The Grill. Because a rose by any other name would surely smell as sweet. The simply-named Grill at the Ritz Carlton in Dearborn needs no further finesse of naming convention to be one of the top restaurants in the country. I's the Ritz Carlton, fer chrissakes. I've visited the Grill a couple of times--once for a dinner that I don't quite remember but I do know was (a) amazing and (b) expensive, and another time for the most decadent Sunday brunch I've seen in Michigan. It doesn't need a lot of bells and whistles. It's the Grill. In the Ritz Carlton. That's all you need to know.

Il Posto Ristorante. Authentic right down to the waiters' B.O. Il Posto in Southfield is hands-down the most authentic, old-world Italian restaurant, cut from the classic mold of customer service as the highest priority and taking great pride in the art of dining. Much like being in a family-owned world-renowned restaurant in Tuscany (Osteria di Rendola in the hills of Chianti is my closest comparison), the greatest emphasis is placed on quality of ingredients, creativity and expert preparation of dishes, presentation, and service. One table will typically see nine or so servers bustling about, refolding your napkin, wiping crumbs off your table, filling your water, and generally just making sure you are absolutely satisfied with every element of your dining experience. Oh, and did I mention the food is equally as amazing? Sorry to let my snobbery show through here, but if you've never been to Italy, you've never experienced anything quite like this. If you even try to make comparisions to the Bravo! Cucina Italiana or Johnny Carino's, I will punch you in the face.

Iridescence. Just go already, would you? From ambiance to presentation to the artful adventureousness of the menu, Iridescence beats all. I fell in love with it back when the restaurant was located in the bowels of the casino, past all the janky junk food joints and casino cafeterias. Now that they're located on the top of the Motor City Casino Hotel tower with a breathtaking view of the city and with some of the most impressive and daring interiors you're likely to see (the architectural lighting is better than most nightclubs), Iridescence makes other dining experiences pale in comparison. Literally and figuratively.

The Lark (West Bloomfield). You know...not as impressive as you think it would be. Yes, it nails the whole French-countryside standard of service and food preparations, and yes, their Rack of Lamb Genghis Khan is infamous and is served with its own number charting how many have been served since they started the numbering (over 70,000), and yes, their wine list is indeed The Wine Bible, and yesssss, the service is expertly attentive, the service carts are cute, and the extremely limited seating guarantees much personal attention and an always-full house, but...the food? I mean, for all the buzz? Meh.

Ristorante Cafe Cortina. All that time I lived in West Bloomfield, regularly driving through Farmington Hills, and I barely took notice of this place, much less thought to myself, "I should go there sometime." Apparently they're known for their fresh pastas, so much so that they were highlighted on the Food Network in 2006 as one of the best pasta places in the States. I want to punch myself in the face for having missed it all this time.

Rugby Grille. Another understated name for another top-tier restaurant located inside a world-class hotel recognized for its excellence in service and high standards of luxury and European excellence--the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham. I sadly admit that this is another restaurant I've not been's at times like this I miss my fuckass ex who, despite being a fuckass, knew how to dine well and always took me out to such places. Now with my limited personal means (I got my punch in the face from the struggling economy last year and have been barely treading water since) and lack of boyfriend my exposure to such things has been severely limited, save for the generosity of my gay friends who will occasionally take me out to such nice places...but then find boyfriends and go with them instead. *Sigh* Me wanna go's so pretty and old-world-y and snobby and fabulous...probably not as pretty and old-world-y and snobby and fabulous as the Russian Tea Room, which is the pinnacle of pretty old-world-y snobby fabulousness, but the best we're going to get here in Michigan.

Tribute Restaurant. I know I've spoke of it in passing before. But since I have not actually been there since I launched this blog, there have been no dedicated gushy foodie posts for Tribute Restaurant in Farmington Hills. But this...this is my favorite dining establishment in the world. It's now changed executive chef hands a third time since they opened and I haven't been there since, but I doubt the essence of its personalized service, chic atmosphere, and experimental avant-garde menu items (not to mention a quite welcoming, knowledgable, and friendly staff--espeically if you stick around after-hours and drink with them) have changed much. It used to be a yearly tradition--every year my birthday would mean a decadent dinner at Tribute, which would always end with the Egg: most orgasmic explosion of flavors you'll ever experience. Words cannot begin to describe it. It is the dessert of the gods. Chocolate creme brulée, salted caramel...I...I just can't describe it. It's incredible. A typical meal there will see me gorging on foie gras, Kobe beef, a generous plateau de fromage full of imported creamy French and tangy Italian cheeses, some kind of wild game meat, and a chocolate souffle. Ah, I miss this place. I miss Kevin and Antoinne. Damnit, now I'm depressed. I'll punch you all in the face. Now open for lunch.

Well. Now that I'm awash in memories of a very, very different time in my life, I'll bid you all adieu and happy dining while I go find a corner to wallow in my many financial and romantic failures, thanks.

In the face.