Best of Detroit 2013
Nutritional Value - Staff Picks
Our staff picks for dining in Metro Detroit
Published: March 20, 2013
501 Monroe St., Detroit
Pan-global fusion joint Mosaic closed its doors for three months of remodeling to reopen as Santorini Estiatorio. It’s the first new Greek restaurant in Greektown in a long time, and it makes a wonderful addition. The new look is rustic island, and the stylish blown glass droplets above the bar (the only design elements from Mosaic that remain) fit perfectly with the new theme, as do the large paintings of serene ocean views done by local artist Blake Carmichael. Wicker lampshades that resemble fishing baskets hang from the ceiling, and the dining room is separated from the bar by what looks like the hull of a boat. It makes for a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere perfect for enjoying wonderful Greek cuisine.
Best Menu Makeover
22700 Woodward Ave., Ferndale
With its distinctive design, friendly staff, good beer selection, and attractive twenty- and thirtysomething clientele, the Emory has been a favorite haunt for Ferndale locals since it opened in 2006. However, apart from the burger night special on Tuesdays, the venue has always seemed more of a destination for the bar scene than for dining. We may see that change in 2013, as the Emory has recently rolled out a rebooted menu. The burgers remain, of course, but they’ve added a pork & sage burger with apple slaw and a cilantro lime salmon burger to its traditional lineup. Numerous other tweaks have been made, but perhaps the most exciting update is the addition of sausages from Detroit’s Corridor Sausage Co. Make a difficult choice between the Vietnamese chicken, turkey red mole and garlic & juniper brat, all served on a freshly baked roll from Hermann’s and each with different complimentary garnishes, or come back often and try all three; this is bar food to get excited about.
Best Building Repurposed as a Restaurant
27799 Woodward Ave., Berkley
Before you even get past the door at Vinsetta Garage, you’ll notice details of the building’s past life incorporated into its new incarnation as a hip, mid-priced restaurant. The original neon sign and gas pumps remain out front; old lamps and service orders adorn the waiting area. Although the restaurant’s design was much-hyped and well-executed, we’re happy to say the joint is more than just a pretty face. The quality of both the food and service more than matches the effort surrounding the building’s redesign — in fact, they were qualified to win Best Pizza in a Non-Pizzeria for their excellent wood-oven pies.
Best Bar in a Restaurant
London Chop House
155 W. Congress St., Detroit
Since the London Chop House dusted itself off and reopened for business after two-plus decades, the restaurant’s buzz has centered on the “time warp” classic steakhouse ambiance of dim lights and well-polished wood. However, if $100-per-person tabs are not part of your everyday dining budget, you can still experience what all the fuss is about with a visit to the LCH bar. Nestled between the dining room and the dessert lounge, the bustling bar offers a chance to soak up the über-traditional midcentury steakhouse vibe while rubbing elbows with a blend of local businesspeople, WSU staff and out-of-towners. Cordial, genteel bartenders serve generous pours of top-shelf liquor, including an appropriately good selection of Scotch.
Best Restaurant for Ordering One of Everything
Green Dot Stables
2200 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit
There aren’t many non-fast-food restaurants where the majority of menu items are a) $3 or less, and b) worth ordering, let alone pretty outstanding. So when you go to the Green Dot, don’t hold back; bring a couple friends and order one of everything. How could you live with yourself knowing that you passed up the Coney Dog slider with venison chili, the Korean slider with peanut butter and kimchi, or (heaven forbid) the Mystery Meat? While you’re at it, order a side of the excellent skinny fries and a $3 specialty cocktail or two to wash it all down.
Best Budget Gourmet
St. Cece’s Pub
1426 Bagley St., Detroit
No higher praise than this: top-notch food on what chef Adam Verville calls “a working man’s budget.” At this lovely pub with a stone fireplace and house-infused spirits, you find influences from all over: Mediterranean to the Carolinas, France to Japan. The recipes show Verville cares about his offerings, like walnut squash cakes over crisp kale and rainbow trout with polenta and pomegranate seeds. A burger with caper aioli, roasted beet salad with shaved fennel — it’s all very tony, and yet the highest-priced item is $13; most dishes are less than $10. Saturday and Sunday brunches are almost as affordable.
Best Addition to Ferndale Dining Scene
Local Kitchen and Bar
344 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale
When Rick Halberg, long one of Detroit’s favorite chefs, set out to plan his latest venture, he chose Ferndale, a hip, bustling, tight-knit community. The stated goal of Rick and his business partner, Brian Siegel, was, “to be the kitchen table of our community; a notably comfortable place where friends gather regularly for exceptional everyday food, drink and camaraderie.” Thus was born Local Kitchen and Bar, which has fulfilled that goal, serving “well crafted-comfort,” both food and atmosphere, drawing crowds for the combination. The restaurant offers a 16-seat bar and a communal table for large parties or for strangers to share space, food and camaraderie. The menu is at once simple and innovative, with an emphasis on local, sustainable foods. There’s everything from burgers and steak to fried green tomatoes and fried chicken, with such sides as mac and cheese with candied bacon, brisket sliders and Sicilian meatballs. For vegetarians there’s a variety of salads, crostini and panini and a black bean burrito. The wine list is affordable and there are a couple-dozen beer choices on offer. Save room for Rick’s signature brownie or a seasonal cobbler.
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