Thursday, May 20, 2010

RDW: Restaurant Bites

Ha! No new restaurants in the city, GOOD DAY SIR! Behold, a rundown compliments of Real Detroit Weekly and me:

One door closes and another one opens. Literally. While it may seem that there have been a number of restaurants closing in the city lately ... well, there have been ... but almost just as quickly comes a new one to replace it.

We all shed a tear when (PROOF) closed. Thankfully, Grosse Pointe's self-described "high-class dive" Hard Luck Lounge has taken up residence in its former Woodward location across the street from Comerica Park. Hard Luck serves up some of the tastiest, most creative martinis around in a very stylish yet cheeky Vegas-themed atmosphere. Their menu of over 50 martinis includes fun, seasonal concoctions as well as a little something called the "Candy Shoppe." They'll also be launching their own private-label vodka.

In fact, this whole stretch of Woodward is experiencing quite a growth spurt. Inside Campus Martius Park on Woodward (where Au Bon Pain just closed earlier this year), Fountain Bistro will be opening early this summer and will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner in an atmosphere that is classic European café with a modern American sensibility. Fountain Bistro is owned by John Lambrecht, who also owns Bookies Bar & Grille.

In the Kresge building, Aaron-Micael Beydoun, a 24-year-old Detroit native who spent the past few years in Shanghai, has already soft-opened Chez Zara, a café so thoroughly Italian that everything, from the quality Lazzarro espresso to the furniture, is imported from Italy. Says Beydoun, a commodities trader, "Kmart started in the building. There's very rich history in the Kresge," he says. "I somehow want to help reincarnate what they did with Kmart — building something new in Detroit." Grand opening is Memorial Day weekend.

Down at the Compuware building, a Tim Hortons outpost just opened in the former Janet's Java location. And in the Compuware parking garage on Monroe St., Café Kabob Mediterranean Grille & Catering (CK Grille) will open in June. CK Grille will offer seating for 80, carry-out and catering, while targeting the weekday work crowd with daytime hours (they will stay open later for festivals and events).

Trekking a bit further down Monroe St., check out the just-opened Five Guys Burgers and Fries. Called "The best $5 burger a man can eat" by GQ, Five Guys is open LATE, serves up monster-size portions AND beer, and is also damn tasty. Did I mention it's open LATE? Till 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, midnight Monday through Thursday and 10 p.m. on Sundays. Also in Greektown, Red Smoke Barbecue will be opening soon. It looks very Southern-chic, but will it be able to give Slows a run for its money?

It'll be tough once Slows To Go opens late this summer in Midtown at the corner of Cass and Alexandrine. The carry-out-only second location of this nationally-acclaimed Detroit BBQ hotspot has been buzzed about for some time, but it WILL be open by fall—owner Phil Cooley promised. I don't believe in God, but I believe in Phil Cooley.

This new Slows location will be located nearby another nationally-acclaimed Detroit favorite, Avalon International Breads. Right up until Avalon relocates, that is. This move into a larger location has been discussed for years, but may now actually happen thanks to the backing of three new investors (who own several Michigan restaurants and breweries all over the state, including the Bastone complex in Royal Oak) and Avalon's continued financial growth. Those of you (like me) who have ever tried to snag a table inside will collectively breathe a sigh of relief when this finally happens. RDW