The past couple weeks have been non-stop. And I’m ready to stop. It’s also been a couple weeks of good Detroit-ness, so I feel the need to share and do my part to further reiterate that Detroit is a cool place to be. I could have devoted blog posts to each place, but instead I’ve decided to make it into a monster post of Detroit love. So without further pontificating, here’s where I’ve been these last two weeks:
— Motor Bar in the newly renovated Westin Book Caddy. For those non-Detroiters, this hotel is the crown jewel of our current rebirth. It took more years than I know and more money than is currently housed on Wall Street to make it happen, but it’s worth it. I found myself there its first day open, at first by chance and then later by purpose. I love the new hotel, all gleamy and white.
I love the atmosphere of the bar, though it really is just a nice hotel bar. But the plush couches and round booths create something chic and cool. My only complaint? The cocktail menu. Not that I’m a huge cocktail fan (I much prefer wine or a cheap well drink), but the bar lends itself to an urge to enjoy a fabulous cocktail. I eagerly opened the menu expecting a bevy of options and was confronted with the same old stuff. Not much imagination. A Manhattan here, a Cosmo there. Disappointed, I selected an Appletini, and was pleasantly surprised how good it was. And I suppose that’s what really matters. While there, we saw Michael Symon of iron chef fame, who is opening the hotel’s main restaurant, Roast, this month. Of course we were all too much like nervous schoolgirls to go say “hi”, but it was still a celebrity sighting!
— Cuisine. We were here for a going away party, Detroit-style. The restaurant serves French-American fare in an old house in Detroit’s New Center area, and most of its traffic comes from the Fisher Theatre crowd. I’d honestly never heard of it before I started dating DD, and he took me there for V-Day. That night, I sadly can’t remember what I had except for some fabulous mushroom risotto. I’m still talking about that mushroom risotto, it was so creamy and delish.
At this occasion, I had the difficult choice between going with a progression menu with lamb or opting for a la carte and trying out the sturgeon. Since red meat and I don’t agree anymore, I opted for the sturgeon and lobster/crab bisque. The bisque was rich and the pieces of meat were tender and juicy. The first bite of the sturgeon was amazing, but as I got into it, I realized it was ever-so-slightly over cooked. Not quite the flakiness I adore, but it was a thick piece of fish, so it was semi-understandable. It came with some corn risotto cakes which were also good — crispy on the outside with fresh corn and al dente risotto inside. In fact, I find more and more when I go to fancy places that the sides are often just as good or better than the main dish. As you may recall, I practically wanted to bathe in the grits I had at Iridescence.
I will say I did taste the lamb since DD ordered the progression menu I’d contemplated, and OHMYEFFINGGOD was that lamb tender. One of these days, I’m really going to have to chock my body’s rejection of red meat to the wind and order lamb for myself.
For dessert, my arm was twisted into trying the chocolate souffle, something I don’t think I’ve ever had before, so it’s difficult for me to really review. I can say it was chocorific, just how I like my deserts. The waiter poured hot fudge into the souffle before serving, making it a combination of airiness mixed with fudgey richness.
And that concludes my review of Cuisine. There were a couple bottles of champagne and an excellent bottle of Syracco, but I’m still working on my wine conoisseur license so I won’t dwell on those. The service was impeccable, and I appreciated the fact that our waiter knew the wine list and was easily able to make suggestions as to what would go with our meals. Last time I was there, the waiter did the same thing and DD and I actually had a personally selected wine flight, which was a lot of fun to do with dinner.
— Bakers Keyboard Lounge. Part Two of the going away party. I do love Bakers, and I’m not even an ardent jazz fan. According to their site, it’s the world’s oldest jazz club and is known to be one of THE places to play if you’re a jazz musician. The club is small and intimate, and last time I was there, we had to wait in the cramped bar before getting in because it was so packed.
What I love about Bakers is the atmosphere. Because it’s small and dare I say, cramped, you feel the music that much more. And it’s easy to strike up a conversation with your neighbors…as you might be sharing a table! Or, if you’re not feeling sociable, you can curl up in a cozy booth with someone special and just be. The bar has booths all around the perimeter, ideal of parties of 2, or large groups, as ours was a whopping party of nine.
The last time I was there I had a wonderfully rich turtle cheesecake, and even some decent catfish bites (odd combo, I know). It’s possible that cheesecake came directly from heaven.
— The Woodhouse Day Spa. This was DD’s Sweetest Day gift to me. We’d been talking for awhile about getting a couple’s massage, as neither of us had had a massage before and were a little skiddish to try it alone. So he booked a nice package, with massages, facials and pedicures (watching him get a pedicure is a post all by itself…).
This was the first time I’d done a spa package. And overall, I enjoyed it. However, if I were to review the spa, I’d say I wasn’t totally impressed. First, the facialist must have used something on my skin that really dried out my chin, because 2 weeks later, it’s still recovering. And that was after she clucked on about how dry my skin was to begin with and chose to give me the “extreme moisture” facial. Obviously, it wasn’t as extreme as it could be, because I woke up the next day with a dried out chin. After that, we had our pedicures, and then our massages. I’m no spa expert, but this was not the order it should have gone. My toes were still tacky when we got under the sheets for the massages — so the polish got a bit junked up. Not enough to be really noticeable, but still…I felt like they should have done the pedicure last. And finally, their prices were a tad steep. Don’t get me wrong, the package was well priced given all we had done. But when I looked at the services on an individual basis (which is what I’d most likely be going back for), I felt some were pricier than the competition. And you know me, I’m all about the bargain.
— Coach Insignia. The restaurant on the 72nd floor of the Renaissance Center. Overlooking Windsor, Ontario, and downtown Detroit, the restaurant is the second highest in the U.S. I took DD here for his birthday this past Friday. It was in the middle of a ca-RAZY weekend of work for me, and I was afraid I wouldn’t enjoy it because of that. But I was wrong.
We were seated by the window, overlooking the Detroit River and Windsor. The restaurant is quiet and romantically lit, perfect to share a bottle of wine, have a long conversation, and belly up to the table.
And boy did we belly up.
I started with the Ceasar Salad and DD had the lobster bisque. I never thought an ordinary salad could be so good. The dressing was perfectly seasoned, the lettuce fresh, and there was a crusted piece of parmesan smack in the middle of it. And I do love me some cheese. For dinner, I got the spinach fettucine. I almost went for the chilean sea bass, but was really drawn to the pasta. It had trumpet mushrooms, oven dried tomatoes, chicken, and goat cheese. As you can probably guess, it was the goat cheese that sold me. The pasta was very good, but there was a part of me that wished I would have gotten one of their signature dishes. One thing I’ve noticed is that when I select pasta at fine restaurants, it’s never as special. It’s always good, but never as special as their meat and seafood dishes. Perhaps pasta is just too ordinary for high class places to spend a lot of time on.
Coach did set itself apart from its high class dining counterparts in portion size. Usually fine dining means small portions. It is all about presentation, after all, not gorging yourself. But at Coach, it’s about both. DD ordered a side of mashed potatoes that could have been shared by four people. We had endless bread (warm tomato basil bread at that!), and tons of garnish with our main courses.
By dessert, we were both full, but I felt it was critical we make room for something chocolate, so we shared the pudding cake. True to its name, it was as ooey-gooey as it sounds. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it more had I not taken such a liking to that tomato basil bread earlier, but regardless, it was worth the more-than-full feeling he and I left with.
And that concludes my month of the Detroit high life. To pack all of these things into one month is insane. For both the schedule and the budget. Well, more precisely, I should say DD’s budget because he footed the majority of this little trip into luxury. But it was fun and I’d urge you to check out any of the options when you do have a little extra cash floating around or you’re looking for a special occasion destination.
And as an added Detroit-themed bonus, I have to share what I got DD for his birthday. I’ve been eager to share my Etsy find, but was afraid that somehow, someway, DD would find this little blog and see the photo, and then the surprise would be ruined. But, finally, here it is: Custom made Detroit-themed cufflinks made by Anne Holman. I know, they’re awesome: