Friday, September 28, 2012

[HOT LIST] DRW: Bougie on a budget

The patio at the Rattlesnake.

Detroit Restaurant Week starts another fall season this week. 17 restaurants, $30 three-course meals, 10 days, you know the drill by now. Many of these restaurants are places you might call "special occasion" restaurants -- as in, most people only ever go to them on special occasions. While DRW was initially conceived to get people out of that mindset and into these seats, the fact of the matter is these ain't no coney islands. But DRW makes these dining destinations more accessible to larger audiences, allowing all of us to be bougie on a budget. And these places here are the finest of the fine.

The infamous Roast bar.
#1 Roast (Westin Book CadillacDowntown)
Detroit's sexiest sexy-time dining destination is still Roast. It's been Roast since the day they opened and it will stay Roast until there is another Roast, which there might not ever be because there is no other Roast. Plus there is nowhere better in the city of Detroit to be bougie on a budget. Their infamous happy hour (food and booze from $3-5 - get stuffed and loaded for about 20 bucks) lets everyone feel a little fancy regardless of financial considerations, but all that is confined to the bar - which is about as easy to get a seat at as any of these places. Thankfully Detroit Restaurant Week democratizes the bougie on a budget experience for the whole dining room! (So now you just need to be lucky enough to snag a reservation.)

#2 Iridescence (Motor City Casino, Corktown-ish)
If being a AAA four-diamond award-winner every year since 2001 and a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence recipient every year since 2007 isn't enough to convince you of Iridescence's poshness, then maybe the fact that it was Hour Detroit's 2011 "Restaurant of the Year" will be. Or maybe it will be the 40-foot-high ceilings. Or the 40-foot-high automated wine cellar. Or the dramatic L.E.D. lighting. Or, you know, the food. Whatever it is that strikes your fancy for fancy, you can find it here.

#3 Coach Insignia (GM Renaissance Center, Riverfront)
It's not quite the mile high club but it's pretty damn close. More Wine Spectator awards and Hour nods, and also a view of the Detroit River from more than 70 stories up. Detroit loves it some steakhouses, and this one towers above them all. (Like, literally. Literally towers.)

#4 The Rattlesnake (Stroh's River Place, Rivertown)
Founded by Jimmy Schmidt in 1988 (who hailed from the original London Chop House), the Rattlesnake has been one of Detroit's preeminent dining destinations for decades and it still hasn't lost its luster, though they have been doing a lot to cater to a younger crowd (Roast isn't the only one with a killer happy hour).

#5 Caucus Club (Penobscot Building, Downtown)
Fancy like how Mad Men is fancy, the Caucus Club hearkens back to the golden days of Detroit's history. From the Bullshot to Barbara Streisand, this place has some stories. Put on a three-piece suit and return to a time when vodka was classy not trashy.

Bubbling under 24grille (Downtown), Cuisine (New Center), the Whitney (Midtown), Cliff Bell's (Foxtown), Atlas Global Bistro (Midtown)