Sunday, April 4, 2010

DRW Preview #3: 24grille

The look of Detroit's fine dining scene has been rapidly changing over the past few years, and there are no two more welcome additions to it than the offerings inside the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel: Roast and 24grille. Both have independently become THE go-to spots for business types and the trendy social elite, though 24grille tends to get a bit overshadowed by its boisterous big brother down the hall. But to miss this place would be a huge mistake on your part. With a uniquely different look and vibe than Roast, it is equally as trendy and elegant though with perhaps a little less pomp. Roast may be where all the business types flown into town for conferences may converge for dinner meetings, but the bar at 24grille is where they'll end up afterwards. The ambiance is just a little younger, a little hipper, a little more loosen-up-your-tie-and-have-fun.

The interior is best described as modern industrial chic. A narrow space with two full walls of windows make it constantly flooded with natural light, which illuminates the flawless blonde wood floors and the intricate hand-blown glass sculptures. The plush upholstery is all done in warm chocolate hues while the space itself is accented with exposed ductwork and iron columns, giving it an urban chic loft-like feel. A granite bar and fireplace complete the look along with glittering rectangular chandeliers. The effect is stylish and sleek, visually impressive in every minute detail with something to catch your eye wherever it may wander. No small wonder then that the clientele tends to be equally as eye-catching--this is a great place for savvy singles to mingle and for doe-eyed dates to flirt.

For my third Detroit Restaurant Week menu preview, I got to visit 24grille, and as one of the places that I felt really went above and beyond with their DRW menu selections last year I was very excited to see what they have in store for the Spring Edition. It was a gorgeous day outside so we enjoyed our meal on the patio (lovely but for the ruins of the former Lafayette Building).

We started with the Roasted Tomato Caesar salad, served with a dried tomato slice and parmesan. Not as heavy as a classic Caesar, the roasted tomato was an interesting flavor to add to a salad that has become a bit boring by overexposure--a refreshing new twist on a stale dish, and perfect for the lighter spring season.

We then sampled the Crab Cake as the Chef's featured appetizer of the day, though this will change regularly throughout Restaurant Week and thus may not be the same. The flavors of jalapeno and citrus were great compliments to the dish, though the red sauce was a little heavy.

For the entree selections, we enjoyed the tender, juicy, perfectly-cooked (not charred, dearGOD how I hate char) filet mignon, served with zip sauce, cipollini onion and garlic confit, and Yukon Gold potato purée. The filet was prepared to the ideal temperature, brown on the outside and pink on the inside, and the zip sauce was all the salty, buttery indulgence you should expect when devouring such a fine piece of tender beef. As the old steakhouses of Detroit have slowly disappeared the art of the zip sauce seems to have been nearly forgotten, but rest assured there just simply is no better way to enjoy a filet.

We also got to taste the Frenched Berkshire Pork Chop, served with garlic potato puree, braised apples, and a cinnamon-infused cognac sauce. There's a reason why pork chops and applesauce are staples in many households, and that's because the pork and apple just go so tremendously well together. The chop is bone-in, big and meaty, and the sauce is full of colorful warm cinnamon-apple spice that compliments the pork. As an adult with a more experienced palate, it is always a unique treat to rediscover a simple dish from childhood such as this with all-new eyes (and tastebuds). And it should probably go without saying that this isn't quite the pork-chops-and-applesauce that mom used to make, either.

For dessert we sampled a selection of 24grille's house-made ice creams and sorbets: (left to right from top) Pomegranate, Blueberry, and Strawberry Sorbet as well as Double Chocolate, Banana Chocolate Chip, and Vanilla Bourbon Ice Cream. The vanilla bourbon was mild with just the slightest hint of warm bourbon spice; the double chocolate was double-rich (and ultimately mixed well with the strawberry sorbet; don't judge); the blueberry sorbet was the most amazing shade of deep, electric purple-blue and had the most exceptional natural flavor. (Note that these selections will also change during Restaurant Week.)

Executive Chef Jason Gardner has once again devised an outstanding menu for the Spring Edition of Detroit Restaurant Week, and has even included information in the menu itself (see below) regarding the origins of the items used so diners can see just how much of the meat and produce is sourced locally.

Roast may have the finest happy hour in town (it's true), but 24grille just this February launched a competitive happy hour of their own: every Monday-Friday 4:00-6:00PM enjoy half-off wine and appetizers. Mondays are "Moet Mondays" when all glasses of Moet champagnes are $10.00; Tuesdays are half-off all bottles of wine all night. They also launched an $8.00 lunch sac menu Monday-Friday which includes a choice of sandwich with soup, cookie, and a pickle (try the BBQ Pulled Pork with Smoked Gouda).
For the more chichi types, visit the Champagne Bar for an endless array of champagnes to toast any special occasion (or just the fact that it's Wednesday).

24grille oozes style, but it also has substance and has earned its reputation as one of Detroit's top dining destinations. If you've never been, Detroit Restaurant Week is the ideal time to test it out with a menu that exceeds expectations and impeccable service that is welcoming and just the right mixture of formal and friendly. Before or after dinner, be sure to enjoy a cocktail at the bar: the "fireplace" is not to be missed.

Roasted Tomato Caesar [Benny Evola & Son Produce – Grosse Pointe]
(Romaine hearts, shaved Parmesan, oven dried tomato, roasted tomato dressing)
Soup du Jour
(Chef’s selection of daily specials prepared with local, seasonal ingredients)
Featured Appetizer
(Chef’s daily creation)

Airline Chicken [Peacock Family Amish Farm – Troy]
(Roasted chicken jus, heirloom baby carrots, Yukon Gold potato purée)
Frenched Berkshire Pork Chop [Central Market – Detroit]
(Garlic potato purée, braised apples, cinnamon infused Cognac sauce)
Filet Mignon [Creek Stone Farms – Arkansas]
(Zip sauce, Cipollini onion and garlic confit, asparagus, Yukon Gold potato purée)
Himalayan Cabbage Rolls [Benny Evola & Son Produce – Grosse Pointe]
(Himalayan red rice, root vegetables, wild mushrooms, elephant garlic sauce, grilled tofu)

House-made Ice Cream
(Chef’s daily variety)
(Chocolate anglaise, almond chantilly cream)