Wednesday, September 30, 2009

DRW, Fin

Well, it was "fin" three days ago, if that gives you any indication of the kind of weekend that I had.

Yes, the final weekend of the first-ever Detroit Restaurant Week was a whirlwind of great food and great people, all celebrating the great success of DRW. Sure, perhaps it was a little preemptory, but once we received word that there was not a single reservation for a single participating restaurant available on Friday or Saturday, it definitely seemed time for a little congratulatory cheers-ing.

I don't have the final counts yet (will most likely "tweet" them, so keep an eye on the sidebar), but preliminary word from the restaurants has been extremely enthusiastic and they seem to unanimously agree that they haven't seen cover counts like this in years and eagerly anticipate the next one. Imagine that: dining rooms at 17 of Detroit's finest dining destinations packed full on a Wednesday night...weekend reservations as hard to get as reservations at Manhattan's Aureole on Valentine's Day...people positively buzzing about the restaurants...THIS is how it should be.

One thing I noticed happening a lot that intrigued me was just how excited people were to talk about it. I saw it everywhere: on Facebook, people excitedly chattered on threads commenting on statuses like, "At Mosaic now! Atlas tomorrow!" followed by "Have you tried the Whitney yet?" and "Can't wait for the Rattlesnake!" from their friends. I received emails from people asking where I would recommend and proudly announcing their own reservations for the week. Even in group settings (such as the Supper Club I held at Detroit Fish Market last Wednesday during Restaurant Week), people buzzed excitedly over where they've been so far, where they plan to go next, and which places they were most excited about visiting.

The winner? The Rattlesnake Club. That 1 1/4 lb. lobster for $27 had everyone's mouth watering, though I'd have to say the foie gras a-go-go at 24 Grille most tantalized my tastebuds.

I also heard a lot of chatter over when the next Restaurant Week would take place and that people wanted to see it happen more than once a year. Never fear, pets...plans are in the works.

In the meantime, you can continue to enjoy discounted prices a la Restaurant Week at a number of participating restaurants. The Rattlesnake Club will continue to offer the very same DRW menu through October. Wolfgang Puck Grille already offers 3-course prix fixe meals on Sundays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for $29. Other restaurants (such as the Whitney) are contemplating adding a prix fixe $40 menu to their regular menu year-round, while still others (Iridescence) have dramatically reduced prices. Plus, there's always my monthly Supper Clubs, at which you will have the distinct pleasure of dining with ME!

While part of the fun is being caught in the Restaurant Week buzz, it is still good to know that diners can still get great deals on dining at other times, and that the restaurants seem to be responding to the demands of their clientele.

What else can I say? It was a blast and I was absolutely thrilled to be a part of it. I am already looking forward to the next one (and it will probably take me that long to recover from this one!). And if you missed it this time around...dear God, WHY???

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

DRW Preview #6: Detroit Fish Market

Photo from the website

How sad...this is my final official Detroit Restaurant Week preview! We've had a good time though, haven't we? All good things must come to an end, I suppose.

For my final DRW outing, I visited the new Detroit Fish Market at Paradise Valley. This is part of the Southern Hospitality Restaurant Group, a Frank Taylor concept that is already widely popular since opening in January. The place was packed during my visit, but I still had the chance to try some of the their best DRW offerings. (Sadly, they were so swamped the chef didn't have time to come chat with me, or bring me round after round of various plates of food and sit and chew the fat with me for a couple of hours...which is too bad, because a girl could get used to that! Oh, Restaurant Week, how you've spoiled me...)

I started with their New England Style Clam Chowder, a cream-based chowder with just the right dash of pepper, delicately shaved bits of clam and potato, and enough butter to make Miss Julia Child proud. This isn't really "traditional" clam chowder in the sense of what you might be accustomed to...or, it is, except add a stick of butter per bowl. But the best foodies know that butter makes things better, and you really can never have too much! Definitely the RICHEST chowder I've ever had, and probably my favorite of the evening.

I also tasted the Louisiana Style Seafood Gumbo, a departure from a typical gumbo and probably more easily likened to a chili (not for its consistency but rather for its flavor). Crawfish étouffée it isn't, but the spices are mild so sensitive tastebuds will be pleased.

For the entree, I tried the Crispy Fried Catfish-Belzoni Mississippi Style (Belzoni Mississippi is apparently the catfish capital of the world, or so they call themselves). Buttermilk battered and topped with crabmeat and lemon beurre blanc, the catfish was best with some fresh lemon squeezed on top and a splash of hot sauce. It also occurred to me that this might be the first time I've actually ordered catfish (I think one too many trips to Cedar Point where I would watch people hock loogies into the water and the massive catfish would hungrily gulp them down spoiled me on this particular aquatic-dweller), but I actually liked it!

I was actually interested in the Grilled Citrus Marinated Chicken with Cherry BBQ Sauce, though I thought ordering chicken at a fish house would probably be a poor representation of the restaurant. C'est la vie. It's probably a great dish for anyone fish-phobic who ends up getting dragged here by some crustacean-loving friends.

For dessert, I tried the Warm Bread Pudding with caramel sauce. Bread pudding has always struck me as an odd dish, mostly for the etymology: okay, so it's made with stale bread, but where does the pudding part come in? It neither has the consistency of pudding nor is any pudding used in its preparation...things that make you go hmmmmmmm... This particular bread pudding was moist and light, with raisin and apple lest my tastebuds do deceive me.

Overall, I had a thoroughly Southern-style meal (save for the chowder, which is a decidedly UN-Southern dish), though the options here abound with a multitude of favorite fish dishes. The menus are printed daily highlighting the day's "Fresh Catches," and they also offer some signature dishes, such as "Frank's Lobster Mac & Cheese" and "Detroit's Original Twin Fried Lobster Tails," as well as some oddities, such as the Pan-Roasted Monkfish (monkfish isn't really something you see on every fish market menu). For lunch, stop in for a New Orleans Style Oyster Po' Boy or a Grilled Shrimp and Cheese (yeah, I'm curious too).

The Detroit Restaurant Week menu will be served through Sunday, September 27--only 4 more days to experience the best in Detroit dining with 3-course menus at only $27.00!
I'm going to miss doing these previews. *Sniffle* Why can't Restaurant Week be every week?

Detroit Restaurant Week Menu
New England Style Clam Chowder
Louisiana Style Seafood Gumbo
House Salad
(Mixed Greens, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Croutons & Choice of Dressing)
Caesar Salad(Crispy Romaine, Garlic Croutons, Creamy Caesar Dressing & Shaved Parmesan Cheese)

Broiled Lake Superior Whitefish
(Butter, Lemon, White Wine & Capers Sauce)
Crispy Fried Catfish – Belzoni Mississippi Style
(Buttermilk Battered topped with Crabmeat & Lemon Beurre Blanc)
Pan Fried Parmesan Encrusted Tilapia
(Served with Jasmine Rice & Sautéed Seasonal Vegetables)
Grilled Citrus Marinated Chicken with Cherry BBQ Sauce
(With Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Sautéed Seasonal Vegetables)
Seafood Fettuccine
(Today’s Fresh Seafood tossed with Creamy Alfredo Sauce)

Banana Bread Pudding
Warm Apple Strudel Topped with Ice Cream & Caramel Sauce

Monday, September 21, 2009

DRW: The First Weekend did it go?

Detroit Restaurant Week began last Friday and runs through this Sunday, so even if you didn't have the chance to make it out this weekend you still have 7 full more days to experience the best in Detroit dining! 3-course meals, Detroit's best restaurants, $27. You would have to be crazy to miss this, crazy I say! (Or, maybe, just not as "into" food as me, which also = crazy.)

I've already given you previews of Andiamo on the Riverfront, Cuisine, Iridescence, the Whitney, Atlas Global Bistro, a tiny taste of Roast, and will be bringing a preview of Detroit Fish Market later this week. Now, every restaurant is offering up some great food at a great value, but there are a couple of menus I would like to specifically highlight as going above and beyond.

The Rattlesnake Club is offering a 1 1/4lb. lobster along with fresh salad options and some of the most unique desserts, including a Passion Fruit Cheesecake Cube (which, if it's anything like the Passion Fruit Creme Brulee I had there earlier this year, YUM!) and "Amazon" sorbets accented with orange flower syrup and a wild poppy seed, red chile, and sesame tuile. The Rattlesnake Club continues to be the Grande Dame of Detroit dining, and with good reason--but don't just take my word for it; find out for yourself!

24 Grille is also offering an exceptionally ambitious menu, and it is FULL of foie gras! Perhaps my gushing over the seared foie gras atop a bed of green goddess salad with truffled cotton candy at this year's BravoBravo! made it to the right ears, but this menu is a gourmand's dream! Start with the Hudson Valley Foie Gras atop a Mach Salad with sliced apples and cotton candy, and follow it up with the Foie-Infused Sous Vide Sirloin served with a cipollini onion and garlic confit and zip sauce. For dessert you'll have house-made ice cream, but maybe if you're really nice they'll throw a slab of foie gras on top just to complete the trio! (There's an idea: foie gras ice cream. It can't be terrible?)

I know, I know, SO many options and so little time. But I have faith in you. You have one more week. Godspeed.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Why Should New York Have All the Fun? Detroit Restaurant Week Begins Today!

What does New York have that Detroit doesn't?

Well, I'll tell you what they no longer don't have over us: Restaurant Week.

For years there have been "restaurant week" events in cities like New York, Boston, San Diego, Dallas, Austin, Washington D.C., Orlando, Philadelphia, and Chicago. These events offer a prix fixe menu at some of their respective cities' most prestigious dining establishments, encouraging people to experience and celebrate their local cuisine and support their local restaurants.

Detroit has never hosted a dining event on this scale...until now.

Over the past several weeks, I have been giving you previews of the Restaurant Week menus at different participating restaurants. I have interviewed chefs both here and for Model D, and I have heard the same response over and over again from each chef and restaurant manager I've spoken with: Detroit needs this.

In the past decade or so, Detroit--once a champion of fine dining in this country--has all but fallen off the national radar for our cuisine. The occasional James Beard nomination or Wine Spectator award has still been tossed our way, but the national public consensus has been dismissive at best (and downright brutal when at its worst).

The biggest problem is that we never lost the great restaurants; we just lost the prestige and notoriety. Sure, the London Chop House closed almost two decades ago and Chef Milos Cihelka has been retired for over a decade, but they weren't the only things that Detroit could uphold as its humble offerings to the culinary gods.

What about the Rattlesnake Club, the Whitney, Opus One? And in the last decade, Cuisine, Atlas Global Bistro, Coach Insignia? And in just the last few years when Detroit has been experiencing an explosion of creative new fine dining establishments, Roast, Saltwater, 24 Grille, and Iridescence? (And mind you, I am speaking only of those within city limits, and not of the countless noteworthy restaurants in the greater metro area.)

In Detroit we have chefs with impressive pedigrees who have studied under some of the most famous chefs in the most famous kitchens and schools in the world. Even when our very own public seems to have forgotten about is, we have still received recognition from such national publications as Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, and GQ. Yes, over the last several decades our city has made national headlines for a number of negative reasons, and has certainly suffered in population and public opinion because of it. But make no mistake: this is still a great city, and it has always been a great place to eat.

I've heard all too often people claim that Detroit has no culture. To them, I point to the hundreds of art galleries, museums, artist studios, outdoor art installations, theatres, and performance spaces. To them, I offer the countless indie rock, jazz, funk, and techno acts that play on any given night of the week in dive bars, ultra lounges, and upscale jazz clubs. And to them, I point to the dozens of fun, eclectic, noteworthy restaurants, some of which are truly world-class.

I am no true "expert" in the field of dining. I have not been to Tokyo, Paris, or Moscow, nor have I had any kind of formal gastronomical training. But I think it would be fair to say that I at least know more and have had more experience than a good number of diners out there. I've been to some of the finest restaurants in the world--Osteria di Rendola in Tuscanny; Felidia and the Russian Tea Room in New York City; Spiaggia in Chicago; Thornton's in Dublin; Grano de Oro in Costa Rica. I've experienced fine dining in Chicago, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Toronto, and Phoenix. The only thing holding me back from having more experience is lack of access to a big-budget national publication's handsome expense account (PS, dear big-budget national publication, please give me access to your handsome expense account, KTHX). But just in my own experience, limited in worldliness though it may be, I can say with absolute conviction that some of Detroit's restaurants can compete with any of these highly-decorated world-renowned fact, some are even better.

Why is Detroit Restaurant Week so important? you might ask. Or rather, why have I been harping on you about it for weeks now? The answer is simple: it finally puts Detroit on the national culinary map. It finally puts us on the same playing field as Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston. It finally forces people to acknowledge the wonderful dining experiences there are to be had here and situates us as one of the nation's premiere dining destinations--a title we really never should have lost.

Jason Huvaere, Producer of Detroit Restaurant Week, said restaurant week promotions in other major cities across the country have brought customers back again and again -- even after the promotion has ended. And based on early feedback from participating restaurants and the local community, Detroit’s restaurant week is expected to be just as popular as those in Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

“We are home to some of the best dining establishments in the country and this region will welcome this type of dinner promotion,” said Huvaere. “Over the course of the last three months, we’ve been promoting Detroit Restaurant Week at events throughout the region, and we’ve received a very positive response from everyone we’ve engaged.

“And based on preliminary reports from the participating restaurants, reservations are strong, which means that our community is truly embracing the Detroit Restaurant Week concept.”

Detroit Restaurant Week starts tonight. 17 participating restaurants are offering minimum 3-course meals at a fixed price of $27.00 (excluding tax and gratuity). Restaurant Week runs through Sunday, September 27th. If you don't understand what all the fuss is about, then now is a good time for you to find out.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

DRW Preview #5: Atlas Global Bistro

It just doesn't seem possible, but each Detroit Restaurant Week preview dinner just keeps getting better and better! My lastest foray was into Atlas Global Bistro on that lonely stretch of Woodward between Foxtown and Midtown. Despite their relative seclusion, they seem to be doing something right: they've been open for 6 years and always seem to have a strong brunch and dinner crowd, and are also one of the favored cocktail spots for locals (one word: Sazerac).

Executive Chef Christian Burden has been in place at Atlas for four years now and is a Toronto native though we like him even despite that (wink, wink). He attended the Stratford Chefs School and then began working in kitchens around Detroit, including a 4-year stint at the Rattlesnake Club and two years as the pastry chef at the now-closed Boocoo. He presented us with several samples from the upcoming DRW menu and even sat down and chatted with us about food and the city and 20-year aged cherry balsamic vinegar. He is witty and sarcastic and I love that!

But his great wit pales in comparison to his talent in the kitchen. At Atlas, Christian seems to have total creative autonomy, and he expresses his skill in a menu that incorporates elements from a variety of different cultures and cooking traditions. The term "Global Bistro" is not just a clever name meant to evoke something more than it is; it is a truly global bistro, featuring items from Mediterranean, Indian, French, Italian, Asian, American Southern and American Indeterminate influences. It is a bistro in that it is a casual restaurant, but don't let the comfortable environment and laid-back attitude fool you--the food is fine dining at its finest, and the service is on par with the area's more highly-lauded establishments. Though it is probably too "hip" to ever reach Four-Diamond status, the food and the wine (and the service and the ambiance) are more than worthy of such recognition.

We started with the Professor Rockman's Feta (above), a rectangle of baked imported feta with lemon, oregano, olive tapenade, and a lemon twist. The fine outer shell of dough was crispy and the olive oil and lemon juice prevented it from being overly flaky or dry; the crunch was an excellent contrast to the soft, tangy cheese, and the flavor--to say it was somewhere between saganaki and a Greek salad sounds too prosaic. The flavors were alive, possessing the spirit of the Mediterranean islands, like the taste of color itself. Every bite was sun shining on salty sea air; this one is an absolute MUST.

Next we tried the Heirloom Caprese Salad, made with sliced garden tomatoes, sweet basil, fresh mozzarella, and a 20-year-aged cherry balsamic with basil oil and EVOO. He allowed us to sample the rather pricey cherry balsamic on a separate plate--thick, syrupy, tartly sweet heaven. I could pour this all over ice cream and would savor every bite of the most expensive ice cream topping in the world. The salad was also made with organic micro field greens, large tomatoes from a nearby organic plot and teardrop tomatoes from Atlas's own small garden. Fresh, summery, hearty, and sadly coming to the end of its season.

Next were the Moroccan Marinated Greens with leafy watercress, chopped Romaine heart, orange, candied almond, a twirl of Tete du Moine cheese, and spiced vinaigrette. The Tete de Moine is an interesting little cheese (and due to its firm yet elastic composition and silky texture, the florets as pictured above are considered the proper way to serve it to maximize its flavors); it is a highly respected Swiss cheese made in only 9 cheese dairies, and has a history of over 800 years being made in the abbey of the monastery Bellelay. But enough with the history lesson (I'm sorry, I typed "cheese" and couldn't stop myself). This salad is an unexpected blend of flavors, with every bite offering something either sweet, tangy, or spicy and each uniquely different from the next.

Oh, LAMB! I just can't seem to get enough of lamb lately, and this was some of the best. The Pikes Peak Lollipops (Colorado lamb) are char-grilled with wilted baby spinach, a pomegranate-cherry jam made in-house, a port wine veal reduction, crispy onion (or, very fancy onion rings), and a mascarpone polenta. Now...I hate polenta. It strikes that perfect chord between squishy and gritty that's just yeeech. BUT. I did not hate this polenta. It took Christian saying "mascarpone" for me to try it (cheese, of course), but I sort of liked it. And that's saying a lot. The lamb was *muah*--perfect temperature (i.e., really red), not too fatty (and it is a fatty meat), and with an excellent flavor. I think Ned Flanders put it best when he said "Scrum-diddly-umptious!"

This is when I started to get full, so the Tilapia did not get as much attention from me as it deserved (it made for an excellent lunch the next day, though). The official DRW presentation will feature pan-seared farm-raised Whitefish instead of Tilapia, but this worked well too. Tilapia (much like Whitefish) is an extremely mild fish, and may have even succeeded in converting my fish-phobic friend who took several bites and actually enjoyed them. Prior to this, it was,

"There's something dead on your plate that used to swim."

"And that's less desirable than something that spent its life rolling around in its own feces?"


This "Barramundi" (as described on the DRW menu) is made with a very mild garlic-chili paste mixed with oils and a couscous with various vegetables folded in. The small grain granules of the couscous held the garlic-chili-oil sauce well, which was a surprising complement to the firm, mild fish. This dish is also a markedly more "exotic" dish, reminiscient of southeast Asian cuisine occuring somewhere in the midst of Chinese, Indian, Thai, and Burmese influences; a tastefully intriguing dish.

And finally, dessert. Christian is also trained as a pastry chef, which is a rare thing indeed. Typically, as a chef, you either cook or you bake and ne'er the twain shall meet (the relationship between an executive chef and his pâtissier is often symbiotic and mutually-exclusive). Well, Christian can do it all, and he does it in a way that appeals to my own tastebuds: with as little sugar as possible.

"I hate desserts that are overly sweet," he told me, wincing a little, and I feel his toothache; when I bite into something it shouldn't make my teeth hurt (nor should it make them feel fuzzy afterwards). Christian makes all his own pastries and sorbets, using half the amount of sugar called for in the recipes. The result is a Raspberry Sorbet soaked in Limoncello ("A little alcohol with your dessert!" Christian said cheerfully; sarcastic and likes to joke about booze! My kind of man!) and an Orange Blossom Brulee, creamy and aromatic. (For Restaurant Week diners should be even more pleased: the featured Brulee is made with smooth Mexican dark chocolate and spiced custard.)

Atlas also has one of the most impressive lists of cocktails, spirits, and wine in the city. They make all their own syrups, mixers, infusions, bitters, Maraschino cherries and grenadine, as well as offer some hard-to-find liqueurs, including a variety of Absinthe-inspired liqueurs and the fruity African cream liqueur Amarula. The cocktails are enough to make all Mad Men proud (and who thinks of using bacon powder in a cocktail, anyway???). The wine list isn't terribly long but has some clever and eclectic options. They do their best to highlight some Michigan wines, and I had a glass of the Chateau Grand Traverse Gamay Noir, as well as the Chilean Miguel Torres Cabernet Sauvignon rosé (which, as our wonderful server William noted, are finally coming out of the shadow of White Zin).

Self-described as "an urban restaurant with international cuisine," Atlas Global Bistro utilizes influences from all over the globe to create innovative, pan-ethnic dishes that are each more impressive than the one before. Everything is made from scratch and shipped in daily (which is why some of the DRW menu items weren't available--they hadn't arrived yet)--this is due to a painfully small freezer and lack of storage space, which means for you that everything is fresh and the menu is constantly changing to reflect availability. Yes, this means that if you go to Atlas once and find a new favorite dish you might never see it on the menu again, but as building owner Joel Landy so succinctly put it, "You don't go to Atlas to find your favorite dish; you go to Atlas to find your next favorite dish."

The DRW menu at Atlas might just be the most impressive yet, though I feel like I say that about each new restaurant I visit so just take it as a positive thing, m'kay?

Detroit Restaurant Week Menu
September 18-27, 2009
$27.00 exclusive of tax and gratuity
(1/2 bottles of select wines will also be offered at special DRW pricing)

Moroccan Marinated Greens
(Leafy Watercress, Chopped Romaine Heart, Orange, Candied Almond, Twirl of Tete du Moine Cheese, Spiced Vinaigrette)
Heirloom Caprese Salad
(Sliced Garden Tomatoes, Sweet Basil, Fresh Mozzarella, Pesto Vinaigrette)
Professor Rockman’s Feta
(Flakey Pastry Filled with Potatoes, Peas and Carrots. With a Mild Yellow Curry-Cilantro Yogurt Sauce)
Indian Samosa
(Flakey Pastry Filled with Potatoes, Peas and Carrots. With a Mild Yellow Curry-Cilantro Yogurt Sauce)


Crispy Skin Barramundi
(Pan Seared Farm Raised White Fish with Artichoke-Potato Hash, Concasse Tomato,
Sweet Basil Beurre Blanc)
Pikes Peak Lollipops
(Char-Grilled Lamb. Wilted Baby Spinach. California Fig Jam. Port Wine Veal Reduction. Crispy Onion)
Manchester Farms Pan Roasted Quail
(Marinated South Carolina Quail, Fried Hominy Cake, Wilted Young Pea Tendrils, Bourbon-Walnut Conserve)


Mexican Chocolate Brulee
(Smooth Dark Chocolate, Spiced Custard with a Crunchy Caramel Coating)

Raspberry Sorbet
(Frozen Raspberry Ice with Lemon Compote Finished with a Drizzle of Limoncello)

Locavorism for Beginners: A Practical Guide to Living Like a Locavore

“Locavore”: One who subscribes to the practice of eating food that is grown locally.

There are many reasons a person might choose to live a life of locavorism. Some of the biggest pro-locavore arguments include supporting and sustaining local businesses and keeping money circulating within the local economy, as well as being more eco-conscious by reducing the carbon footprint of the food consumed (it is grown locally and thus not trucked in from hundreds of miles away). It also supports small-production organic methods of food production versus large-scale operations that require greenhouse-gas-emitting machinery to tend and eventually strip the land of its nutrients, rendering it unfarmable. Whether the reasons are personal or political, economic or ecologic, it is no doubt that the locavore trend is gaining momentum as people become increasingly conscious of the foods they eat.

In the Ann Arbor area, the opportunities to practice living like a locovore are almost limitless. An environmentally-conscious cosmopolitan area surrounded by sprawling hectares of farmland, Ann Arbor is uniquely well-suited for the locovore lifestyle. Interested, but not sure where to begin?

Start by reading the full article on "How to Be an Ann Arborvore" in Concentrate!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

DRW Press Conference at Roast

I was at Michael Symon's Roast earlier today for the official Detroit Restaurant Week press conference. Restaurant Week starts in 3 days, and already the reservations are filling up fast! If you want to make sure your restaurant isn't fully booked on the evening you choose to visit, be sure to make reservations in advance!

But back to Roast. Though I was not there in an official DRW preview capacity (look for my preview of Atlas Global Bistro on Thursday!), I did have the chance to sample some of their DRW menu, as well as some of their new Bar Menu.

DRW participants will have the chance to enjoy the Roasted Beast of the Day as part of their 3-course menu offering. This is a must for the full Roast experience; tender, juicy meat from the "beast" that was slow-cooked on the spit, visible to the entire dining room, the day before. Lenient vegetarians have a salmon option, which is also a fine dish. (From what people told me; I stuck with the meat.) Read the full DRW menu below, following the Bar Menu.

The Bar Menu is a new concept for Roast, and is similar to the Bar Burger at Bourbon Steak. Offered only in the bar area during the kitchen's regular hours of operation, the Bar Menu is a new, low-price offering perfect for a casual lunch or dinner. Offerings include wings, coney dogs, burgers and a BLT, but all with a special Roast flair. I tried the BBLT, a spicy BLT made with roasted pork belly. The coney dog is nothing like the chilli-slathered weiner you're probably used to seeing, and the burgers? Well, check out the menu:

Bar Menu
Pork Crackling ($7)
Sea salt, line, chili powder

Double Cooked Wings ($8)
Pickled chilies, cilantro, lime

Roast Coney Dog ($9)
Pulled Pork, jalapeno, cheddar, red hot sauce

Roast Burger ($12)
Bacon, cheddar, fried egg, pickled onion

Rock City Burger ($12)
Caramelized onion, bleu cheese, zip sauce

Symon Burger ($12)
Fried bologna, pickles, onion, cheddar, special sauce

BBLT ($13)
Pork belly, bacon, pickled tomato, cilantro, hot sauce

Detroit Restaurant Week Menu ($27, excluding tax and gratuity)

First Course
Mixed Green Salad
Shaved onion, grape tomatoes and red wine vinaigrette

Main Course (Choice of One)
Beast of the Day
Your server will inform you of the beast and preparations

Roasted Salmon
Bacon creamed corn, chilies and cilantro

Third Course
House-made creme brulee

As one of the most impressive restaurants in the city--both visually and conceptually--a trip to Roast is worthwhile, especially during Restaurant Week when the cost is considerably lower. Though in addition to your 3-course menu, I would also recommend you spend the extra $9 on an order of Roasted Marrow. Trust me on this.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Detroit Synergy Supper Club at Detroit Fish Market

Photo from website

For the first time ever, the city of Detroit will be celebrating its fine dining culture with the inaugural Detroit Restaurant Week, and Supper Club will be joining in the festivities!

Detroit Synergy’s Supper Club has partnered up with Detroit Restaurant Week (presented by Paxahau Promotions Group and sponsored by the Greater Downtown Districts) to host our monthly outing at one of the participating restaurants, the Frank Taylor-operated Detroit Fish Market at Paradise Valley located at 1435 Randolph St. On Wednesday, September 23rd, beginning with a cocktail hour at 6:00PM and followed by dinner at 7:00PM, join Supper Club as we experience yet another new restaurant during the most exciting 10 days in Detroit dining history!

Detroit Restaurant Week (DRW) is happening September 18th-27th. There are 17 restaurants involved in this inaugural Restaurant Week, each offering a minimum 3-course menu for the fixed price of $27.00 (excluding tax and gratuity). Supper Club members will be familiar with this fixed pricing and menu structure, which is modeled after a typical Supper Club outing.

Detroit Fish Market at Paradise Valley has only been open since January, but already the response has been tremendous. “I’m thrilled with the progress the Fish Market has made in such a short amount of time,” says Frank Taylor, owner of the Fish Market as well as Detroit’s Seldom Blues, Detroit Breakfast House, and the newly-opened Cloud 9. “Restaurant Week is something that happens in every other major city in the country, and for us to be doing it is amazing. This will encourage people from all over to experience Detroit dining.”

Detroit Fish Market is located in the former home of Intermezzo, and brings to Detroit the kind of upscale fish market experience previously not available in the city. A variety of fresh fish is flown in daily, including Alaskan Halibut and Chilean Sea Bass. Fans of Northern Lakes Seafood Company and Mitchell’s Fish Market will surely love this place, which further solidifies Taylor’s reputation as Detroit’s most daring restaurateur.

The menu for Detroit Restaurant Week is as follows:

Soup or Salad (Choice of One):
~New England-Style Clam Chowder
~Louisiana-Style Seafood Gumbo
~House Salad—mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, croutons & choice of dressing
~Caesar Salad—
crispy Romaine, garlic croutons, creamy Caesar dressing & shaved Parmesan cheese

Entrees (Choice of One):
~Broiled Lake Superior Whitefish—
butter, lemon, white wine & capers sauce
~Crispy Fried Catfish (Belzoni Mississippi Style)—buttermilk battered with crabmeat & lemon beurre blanc
~Pan-Fried Parmesan-Encrusted Tilapia—served with jasmine rice & sautéed seasonal vegetables
~Grilled Citrus-Marinated Chicken with Cherry BBQ Sauce—
with garlic mashed potatoes & sautéed seasonal vegetables
~Seafood Fettuccine—
fresh seafood of the day tossed with creamy Alfredo sauce

Dessert (Choice of One):
~Banana Bread Pudding
~Housemade Tiramisu
~Warm Apple Strudel
topped with ice cream & caramel sauce

Payment will not be accepted in advance; you are responsible for supplying payment for your own bill and gratuity while at the restaurant. We will be meeting at the restaurant at 6:00PM for a cocktail hour, followed by dinner at 7:00PM. Please note that the $27.00 fixed price does not include tax or gratuity; each person/party is responsible for their own check.

For more information about Detroit Restaurant Week, visit their website at Also be sure to visit the official blog of Restaurant Week,, which offers sneak previews of a number of different participating restaurants, including Supper Club favorites Cuisine and the Whitney!

Because we are not selling tickets through the online store, please RSVP in advance. ONLY 40 RESERVATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED. Email to RSVP and with any questions. Please pass this information on to your friends, family, and coworkers, and anyone else interested in Detroit dining!

Detroit Synergy is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. Its mission is to generate positive perceptions and opinions about Detroit by bringing together a diverse community and building upon the City's strengths and resources to realize a common vision for a greater Detroit. Please visit for more information about the group.

Steaks and Strippers: Detroit's Meat Market

It's been a long battle, but my strippers have finally found a home on Metromix!

"Detroit is a city known for its meat. As the city in which "zip sauce" was born, Detroit has long been considered a top Midwestern destination for steak connoisseurs (thanks to such world-renowned restaurants as the London Chop House).

'Yes, Detroit is a great place to go for a fine cut of beef. But that not's the only kind of meat Detroit has become infamous for...

'With 31 clubs operational within city limits, Detroit is also a premiere destination for adult entertainment. Sure, it's a whole different kind of meat, but it's flesh for sale all the same.

'Many of the finer skinstitutes proudly tout their top-rate eats, announcing their cutting-edge cuisine made by top-tier chefs. As an ever-curious gastronome, I thought to myself, 'What better way to test Detroit's superior steakhouse reputation than at the very places that make meat their trade?'

'And so it was that I ended up at the Penthouse Club..."

[Read the rest of the story here.]

Friday, September 11, 2009

DRW Preview #4: The Whitney

My, how things have changed since my first visit to the Whitney. It was probably about 10 years ago, when I was just 18 years old. A boyfriend and I were celebrating our anniversary and, although we were novices, we were interested in experiencing the Whitney, having heard so much about it (and come to think of it, this would have been when Chef Paul was still there). When a stack of artfully arranged mushrooms and tomatoes piled high like a sculpture arrived as my appetizer, I knew how very much out of my element I was. Lucky for me AND you, I soldiered through, and 10 years later found myself back at the Whitney enjoying a special 6-course Detroit Restaurant Week preview/tasting menu prepared and served personally by the Chef himself, Dan Maurer. What a long, strange trip it has been!

I'm not the only one who has gone through some changes over the last decade. The Whitney has seen a number of chefs turn over since then (including Paul Grosz, who then went on to open Cuisine). The result has been as varied as the chefs themselves--some were hits ("The Whitney is back!") and some were misses ("The Whitney as we knew it is gone forever"). Over the last year, the Whitney has made a number of changes to reinvent itself and appeal to a wider audience. Lower prices, lunch and Sunday brunch hours, a bistro menu, a trendy new bar/lounge area on the third floor called the Ghost Bar, and a hip new chef have all helped to redefine this Detroit dining institution.

Chef Dan Maurer has a full sleeve of tattoos and long hair (worn in dreds) which he keeps tied up for work. You want a rock star chef? This is your guy. You want an ego? You're going to have to keep searching. His look might scream "SLAYER!!!" but he's sweet as honey and exceptionally talented. Every dish that was served to me and my dining partner was brought out by Chef Dan personally, with a thorough explanation of each item and plenty of conversation in between. He only started here 6 months ago, but already the difference is obvious. There are no foams or gelées, but there are hearty dishes that are both familiar and surprising that place emphasis on fresh, seasonal flavors, utilizing produce and herbs grown out back in the garden.

For Detroit Restaurant Week, patrons can begin with a soup of the day, which will most likely be some sort of squash. (We chatted about how, despite the fact that summer has ended, fall is the most exciting time for foodies because that is when all the great squash, pumpkin, apples, cider and such come into season. Chef Dan told us that he has a parchment paper posted in the back where everyone is scribbling down their ideas for fall menu items, and they're all very excited about it.) For us, Dan presented an asparagus soup with asparagus tips, shaved parmesan, and truffled white vinaigrette. In the center was a terrine of pork, pistachio and shittake mushrooms wrapped in prosciutto and lying atop a crouton. The asparagus tips still maintained a slight crunch (just enough), and the vinaigrette added an unexpected zest to the slightly bitter asparagus flavor. Mrs. Julia Child--so popular now in everyday conversation thanks to the film Julie & Julia--once referred to terrine as "a luxurious cold meatloaf," and I think that pretty much nails this one. Except for the part about "wrapped in prosciutto"--which made it even better.

See also: a glass of champagne from northern Michigan's L. Mawby label--Lawrence Mawby is an unrivaled genius and the envy of his fellow oenophile peers.

Our next course was also from the list of first course DRW menu options: the flash-fried calamari. It is served with a sautee of heirloom tomatoes (grown in the garden), house-pickled Hungarian hot peppers (also grown in the garden), bell peppers, garlic, and herbs (you guessed it: grown in the garden). The natural juices of the vegetables and pickling brine make for a proper accompaniment for the calamari in lieu of the standard marinara sauce (but never fear, they do keep some on hand just in case). This particular dish is the one Chef Dan is the most excited about. He knew that if they were going to serve calamari without sauce that they had to get it right, and feels confident that they did. The tangy brine and spicy pepper acts in place of a lemon wedge or cocktail sauce, and makes for a daring spin to an otherwise common dish. Indeed, they got it right.

Course 3 came also from the first course DRW options: the Brie salad. Now, I may have mentioned once or twice here how much I love cheese. Sound familiar? Chef Dan pretty much had me at "phylo dough," but I stayed tuned in to hear about the organic mixed greens tossed with toasted almonds, red onions, blueberries, and blueberry-Thyme vinaigrette. The Brie is served on the side and is baked wrapped in the most delicate phylo dough I've ever seen Brie baked in any restaurant. The result was a dough that was thin, unobtrusive, and ever so slightly flaky--not the big dry wad of over-baked phylo dough even the best of restaurants tend to serve. This was soft and chewy, a delicate pastry membrane to hold all that warm, near-melted cheese. Ah, cheese...cheese is good...what? Where was I?

Next up we sampled one of the DRW entree selections, chicken. Yes, chicken. Plain old "pedestrian" chicken. But unlike any chicken you've ever tasted in your life. This chicken is stuffed with a chicken mousse made with carrots, peas, and sundried tomatoes, served with braised carrots (they tasted almost like sweet potatoes), carrot chips, and a savory bread pudding with natural jus. The chicken itself retains its skin, which is slightly crunchy and full of flavor. The chicken is tender and juicy, the mousse a creamy contrast, and the savory bread pudding??? The best way I can describe it is to liken it to stuffing, though after having this the very thought of Stove Top will make you cringe. I've never had a savory bread pudding before (in fact, it's kind of like crepes: you don't even realize the savory kind are even possible until someone presents you with it), but it was superb. Slightly crunchy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside, made with shredded chicken, carrots, and peas--like a chicken pot pie cake! This dish was Dan's first dish he made at the Whitney. After the last chef deemed chicken too "pedestrian" (it wasn't just my pithy turn of phrase), the owner really wanted to see it on the menu, and this is what Dan came up with. The complimentary textures alone make this dish a stand-out (Chef Dan is a self-admitted texture king).

Next we had a much "darker" dish, the filet with a celeriac potato pancake, Swiss chard, baby turnip, and a port demi. When Dan presented it to us, he kind of excused the appearance of the dish, noting that he usually likes to balance the colors (visual presentation is just one of the many elements a superior chef must balance in order to make a truly outstanding dish) but the addition (or subtraction) of anything would throw off the dish's flavors and textures. So, the dark lady it is, which suits it just fine. The Swiss chard is braised with pork (me: "Bacon! I taste bacon!") and the potato pancake is crisp, a nice way to offset the tender (and practically still "moo"-ing but that's JUST the way it should be) beef and the wilted greens. For you naysayers of Swiss chard, my dining partner insisted it was not Swiss chard because, quote, "It can't be Swiss chard because I don't like Swiss chard but I like this." So there you have it.

Last but certainly not least, dessert. The Opera Cake is the selected dessert for the Detroit Restaurant Week menu, which was fitting since my friend and I were on our way to the Opera House to see The Phantom of the Opera (a wonderful production, btw). Opera Cake is a classic French pastry and pretty standard in most upscale pastry shops. It is layered almond cake with coffee butter cream and chocolate ganache, drizzled with more chocolate and caramel. One bite and my dentist was likely twitching inexplicably somewhere. Too rich for my blood, but you sugar freaks will love it.

The Whitney is an old Detroit dining mainstay and I'm thrilled to see it back in form, once again on top of its game. The charm of this historic old mansion, still adorned with a number of original furnishings, is something that can't easily be replicated. The lovely gardens are an oasis during the summer months (and the location of some of the summer's most popular weekly parties) and offer an relaxing retreat from the city. There is a reason why the Whitney is widely considered to be one of the most romantic spots in metro Detroit, and still it is one of the finest places to dine.

While indulging in yet another fabulous meal, it occurred to me that we here in Detroit are very lucky to have so many outstanding (not just merely "good") restaurants nearby, and also how difficult it will be to choose between them! Luckily Restaurant Week is a generous 10 days, and prices are a generous $27.00, so even if you can't decide you don't really have to--try them all! (A few, at least.)

Detroit Restaurant Week Menu for the Whitney

First Course (Choice of):

~Soup of the Day
~Calamari: Flash fried, house pickled peppers, home grown tomatoes, garlic and herbs
~Brie Salad: Baked "en croute" with organic mixed greens, toasted almonds, and blueberry-Thyme vinaigrette
~Mussels: Saffron broth, house made sourdough tomato

Second Course (Choice of):
~Halibut: Fresh linguine, Chorizo sausage, fennel, corn, lemon dill buerre blanc
~Chicken: Peas, sun dried tomatoes, savory bread pudding, carrot chips, natural jus
~Filet: Celeriac potato pancake, Swiss chard, baby turnip, port demi
~Sweet Potato Gnocchi: Fennel, apples, Pecans, Brown Butter, Sage

Third Course

Opera Cake: Layered almond cake with coffee butter ice cream and chocolate ganache

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

From Model D: Interview with Chef Paul Grosz

In my DRW Preview #2, I explored the bold, unique creations of Chef Paul Grosz at Cuisine. You've already learned about the food, now learn more about the man himself with this week's Detroit Restaurant Week feature in Model D.

Later this week look for a DRW preview of the Whitney, as well as a tour of Celtic Chicago. You can also keep up with my foodie quips and tidbits over at Twitter.

And thank the heavens this abyssmal weather held out for most of the weekend, eh? Yeesh.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Labor Day Weekend Eats

There is much to eat over Labor Day, as the summer winds itself down and the last of the big festivals are held. Over this extra-long weekend, you can eat your way through the following:

Arts Beats & Eats
Though it lost its major sponsorship from Chrysler, Arts Beats and Eats lives to tell the tale, and is still offering a great line-up of area restaurants, as well as great local music and the most impressive collection of art of any of the major festivals. It is open Friday-Sunday 11:00AM-10:00PM, Monday 11:00AM-8:00PM. There is a new $2.00 admission charge to attend. The participating restaurants are below:

Featured New Restaurants
Matt Prentice Restaurant Group represented by:
Coach Insignia
Northern Lakes Seafood Company
Milk & Honey


The Almond Hut
Andre's Louisiana Seafood Sandwich Shop
Bloomfield Canopy Cheesecake Co.
Bodacious Bar-B-Q & Chicken
Casey's NY Style Ice
Chan's Caf
The CupCake Kitchen
Damon's Grill of Ann Arbor
Farm Boy Produce
Fiesta Bowl
Frank's Creative Catering
Fruit and Nut Factory
Fun Foods
Greektown Taverna
Grill Masters BBQ & Catering
Harbor House
India Spice
Jerusalem Pizza
Kerby's Koney Island
Kirk's Open Pit Bar-B-Q
Kola's Food Factory
Larry's Soul Food
Maverick's Mini Burgers
Palm Palace
Pat's Coney Time
P'fino Gourmet Deli
The Potato Factory
Randy's Catering
Red Wood Grill
Ryba's Fudge Shops
Skewers House of Kabob
Stella's Fine Foods
The Melting Pot of Troy
Trenton Ice Cream Shoppe
Union Jacks

Hamtramck Labor Day Festival
It's Labor Day Pole-town style, with lots of rock, alt-country, Afrobeat, Bosnian pop, and polka. Plus all the pierogies you can eat--no, really, there's a pierogi-eating contest and everything! This is Hamtramck at its Hamtramckiest, and don't miss the Polish parade Monday at 1:30PM! The festival runs Friday-Monday; this is a free event.

Michigan Renaissance Festival
Celebrate the days of yore in Holly, Michigan with the Ren Fest! See jousting, juggling, lords and ladies, knights and knaves, drink mead, eat turkey legs, buy a sword--it's the most fun you'll ever have without electricity! Ren Fest runs every Saturday and Sunday through October 4th, but for this weekend only it is also open on Monday AND all food will be priced $5.00 or less--including those massive turkey legs!

This is always a fun time, and the food alone is worth the trek. It's not that the cheddar soup in a bread bowl is particularly great (it's not)--but it's there! And if you've never tried a Scotch egg, I say it's high time that you do. This weekend's theme: the Buccaneer Beer Fest. What better way to celebrate Medival times than with BEER? Lots of beer! (But do try the honey mead while you're there.) The Festival is open Saturday-Monday 10:00AM-7:00PM. Tickets are $18.95 for adults, $9.95 for children, and $16.95 for students/seniors. Discount tickets are available at Walgreens.

Taste of Eastern Market
This Saturday, Detroit Restaurant Week presents Michael Symon's Roast as part of their weekly "Taste of Eastern Market" cooking demonstrations. Roast is one of the 17 restaurants participating in Restaurant Week, where they will be offering a fixed price menu of $27.00 (excluding tax and gratuity) for a minimum 3-course meal. See one of their chefs in action at 10:00AM in Eastern Market's Shed 2. This is a free event.

Also, if you dine at any of the participating restaurants now, you'll receive more information about DRW. Pretty!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

DRW Preview #3: Iridescence is the Best Place in the Whole World

I love it when I'm right.

For two years now I've been telling people that Iridescence inside Motor City Casino is simply hands-down the BEST five-star (or Four Diamond, as it were) dining experience in all of metro Detroit. (Sorry Lark fans, but cold appetizer trolleys just don't appeal to me.)

I recently had the opportunity to interview Chef Don Yamauchi for Model D (you can read the full article here), during which time I had to restrain myself from kneeling down on the ground in full-blown Wayne and Garth "I'm not worthy!" idol worship. I also had the opportunity to sample the 5-course tasting menu--a menu designed strictly with gourmet foodies in mind--as well as chat with the Fine Dining Manager at Iridescence, Georges Mokbel (who, should this whole restaurant manager/author/chef thing not work out for him, could always fall back on modeling for Armani).

I admit I don't do well with word limits, which is why it's GREAT I have this blog! (And God bless you, Clare Pfieffer Ramsey, for trying to edit my unapologetically verbose self.) Here you can find all the gushing over Don and over Georges and over Iridescence and over the food (OMG the food!) I couldn't quite cram into the Model D piece (they didn't go for my suggestion to just use 6-point font).

This might take awhile. Go ahead and get yourself a glass of wine. I'll wait.

Ready now? Splendid.

Iridescence is another one of the 17 restaurants participating in the innaugural Detroit Restaurant Week, September 18-27, during which time all participating restaurants will offer a minimum 3-course meal for the fixed price of $27.00 (excluding tax, gratuity, and beverages).

In the Model D interview with Chef Don, I speak about how Don has succeeded in reinventing the menu at Iridescence to make it more accessible to more people, with more focus on familiar regional dishes (dishes people know and love), all while drastically reducing prices. I also speak a little about Chef Don's background too (from Chicago, came to Tribute, then MGM, then Forte, now Motor City), but there are a few details I left out.

That second venture that "did well...until it didn't"? That was the world-renowned Le Francais in Wheeling, IL (called the "finest French restaurant west of Paris"), which Chef Don took over as co-owner and Executive Chef after the legendary Jean Banchet decided to hang up his chef's hat. (Incidentally, this is also the restaurant where Cuisine's Chef Paul Grosz got his start, under the tutelage of Banchet.) This was a restaurant that the wealthy would actually fly to (one customer, Don told me, would actually limo in from clear across the country because he was afraid of flying but loved the food); but after 9/11, all that traveler business (which comprised the majority of the clientele, being out in a somewhat remote Chicago suburb) abruptly ended, forcing them to shut down. (The restaurant later re-opened with another acclaimed chef back in place, only to shutter again permanently.)

Don Yamauchi was a recipient of the James Beard Foundation's Rising Chef award (and please correct me if I'm wrong, but this makes metro Detroit's total roster of James Beard recipients three, alongside Jimmy Schmidt and Michael Symon). He has also been named among Food & Wine magazine’s Top 10 New Chefs in America. If I failed to convey his true culinary prowess in the published interview, I blame only myself and my complete inability to self-edit (my apologies to Model D, their readers, and Mr. Yamauchi himself for not doing him more justice). And also the fact that he totally doesn't present himself that way.

As part of my research for both DRW and Model D, I was invited to Iridescence to sample some of Chef Don's newest innovations. I admit, yes, what I should have done was sample something off the special Restaurant Week menu. Yes, this is what I should have done. I mean, technically I did try one of the items off the DRW menu, however inadvertently. But the 5-course tasting menu was right there! Just staring at me, waiting for me to order from it, tantalizing me with its foie gras and its sweetbreads and its roquefort cheese. What was I supposed to do with an opportunity like that? Really, what else could you have expected from me???

Fine Dining Manager Georges Mokbel complimented my choice of the tasting menu, noting that it is designed specifically for foodies and gourmets (foie gras and sweetbreads aren't quite for everyone, nor would the presence of these particular dishes on the regular menu really jibe with the new, more accessible attitude at Iridescence).

Georges Mokbel is a story in himself: a consummate professional in the world of consumption. He is currently writing a book called Everyday to Gourmet, which offers alternative "everyday" and "gourmet" preparations side-by-side (think: gazpacho, salmon, eggplant, trout). He studied for several years in France under the "Master" Paul Bocuse (again I can reference a tie to Paul Grosz, who also studied under Bocuse for a time). He worked in Cannes, Monte Carlo, and in St. Tropez (under Alain Ducasse), and somehow, inexplicably, found his way to Detroit (he jokes he tries to live as if he were still in Monte Carlo; I'd like to see how). He checked on my table repeatedly, offering his comments and suggestions, and was an absolute pillar of professionalism. There were several moments when I would catch him standing quietly at the back of the restaurant, observing the staff and patrons with hands clasped. I couldn't shake the phrase "lording over his domain" from my mind.

Our server Theresa was friendly, welcoming, and helpful. If you were a newcomer to Iridescence, she would put you totally at ease. She speaks very highly of Chef Don and his new "inviting" menu, as well as jokes about the brother/sister relationship she has with Georges. She is capable of making even the most awkward diners comfortable, and fully embodies this new, more relaxed attitude of the restaurant. She also made some killer wine suggestions, including California's Conundrum, a blend of five white varietals that is crisp, tart, and full-bodied. Make no mistake: the identity may be a litte more casual, but the service is still top-notch.

Our meal began with an amuse bouche of sweet chili crab salad with microgreens. It was a simple way to rev up the palate, and it served its purpose.

Don has certainly succeeded in drastically reducing prices while still maintaining the venue’s artful gourmet cuisine. Each of the 5 courses served as part of the tasting menu were individual works of art. It began with the Seared Yellowfin Tuna, thick squares of Grade A yellowfin tuna dressed with garnishes of Osetra caviar, sushi rice, microbiotic organic mushrooms, seaweed with microgreens, and crab salad with red onions, with a drizzle of 24-year aged balsamic vinegar on the plate. The tuna was thick as steak and just as hearty; the overall presentation was sushi deconstructed.

Next came the Monkfish and Veal sweetbreads in a vanilla buerre blanc with a "fondue" of leeks. Georges presented this as his favorite dish: the texture of the lightly sauteed monkfish and the sweetbreads compliment each other well, and the buerre blanc is just the right amount of slightly sweet creaminess to accent these proteins that melt like butter in your mouth. This isn't something that will be found on the regular menu, either: as evidenced by my dining partner's shock when I told him what sweetbreads were (after he ate some, naturally), it isn't the kind of thing your average diner would find palatable.

Next was the Tournedos of Beef Rossini with foie gras and summer black truffles, served with a braised potato and a mold of mixed vegetables with a red wine reduction and aged balsamic vinegar. Once again, our server Theresa was incredibly helpful, offering suggestions to my partner in tasting the foie gras, it being his first exposure to it. Now I ask you: have you ever seen a plate of meat and potatoes that looked so artistic?

The fourth course was kind of a pre-dessert: Roquefort cheese with a milk chocolate and olive oil blend and cherries. know I love cheese. This Roquefort was perfection--stinky and veiny and blue. The chocolate-olive oil accent was unexpected, but the rich, creamy smoothness offset the overpowering cheese, and the result? I plowed through two orders. (I will always bring someone lactose intolerant with me henceforth.) This course is part of the Restaurant Week Menu as well, so consider yourself officially informed.

For the fifth and final course, true dessert was served, but Theresa thought I might enjoy the dessert off the other tasting menu as opposed to the Roasted Peaches that were part of the 5-course (she was correct, and I do appreciate the thoughfulness). She came out with a beautifully constructed plate of chocolate peanut butter mousse with chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream and caramelized bananas from award-winning pastry chef Patricia Nash. Fans of chocolate and peanut butter pairings have found their Holy Grail; the very definition of decadence, this dessert was bananas like the Gwen Stefani song.

After four hours of feasting in one of the most gorgeous restaurants in the area with an absolutely stunning view of the city, our langurous meal had come to an end. A tasting menu like this might cost $90.00 or more previously, but here, in the "new" Iridescence, it was only $50.00--a fully haute cuisine experience at the price of a steak with accompaniments at a run-of-the-mill steakhouse. Each dish was pure art, from presentation on the plate to the palate. There’s a reason I call this place my favorite, but don't just take my (lengthy) word for it: experience the Four Diamond dining experience for yourself at Iridescence during Detroit Restaurant Week. This is truly world-class dining, on par with some of the finest restaurants in the world, at a price that is comparable to, what...Friday's? Applebees? And may I be struck down with lightning should I ever make that comparison again.

Detroit Restaurant Week Menu September 18-27, $27

First Course
Roasted shrimp with corn ravioli and vanilla beurre blanc
Kobe sliders with frissee and honey-garlic vinaigrette

Second Course
Soy marinated salmon with rice cake and miso butter
Chicken 2 ways

Third Course
Roasted pineapples & cinnamon crumbcake ice cream
Roquefort cheese with milk chocolate and cherries

All photographs compliments of Sean Gabriel Photography.