Please welcome Maria of FreshEats!
Chances are good you’ll travel to Detroit someday, whether it’s for a conference, a business trip or your cousin Ashley’s wedding.
Now, I’m fully aware you might not leap with joy at this prospect, but take comfort that despite Detroit’s reputation for drama, there are some good eats in this town.
Consider Brian Polcyn’s Forest Grill, Jimmy Schmidt’s Rattlesnake Club, the Whitney or Tribute. Plus, some of the nation’s top chefs have recently opened Detroit outposts: MGM Grand Detroit casino features two Michael Mina spots: Saltwater and Bourbon Steak, and the Wolfgang Puck Grille.
And then there’s Roast, Iron Chef and James Beard Foundation Award recipient Michael Symon’s restaurant. Roast, which opened in 2008 to accolades, including Detroit Free Press Restaurant of the Year, has elevated fine cuisine and casual style in the city.
As the name implies, Roast celebrates all things meat, and has a farm-to-table philosophy. We started our meal with a Jolly Pumpkin Fuego del Otoño, a sour local brew infused with coriander and grains of paradise. This artisanal amber ale is brewed with chestnuts and is deliciously spicy.
I chose the signature beef cheek pierogi and bacon lardon salad. The pierogies are soft pillows of dough, stuffed with tender morsels of braised, shredded beef cheek, pan-fried until slightly crisp, and topped with a tart horseradish cream, a deep, rich brown sauce and earthy wild mushrooms. The textures and flavors are exceptionally well balanced. This dish put Symon on the map in his native Cleveland, and I am convinced it could convert even an ardent vegetarian.
The salad, a bed of frisée and generously sized bacon lardons topped with a poached egg, crispy pig’s ear and lightly dressed with tangy Dijon vinaigrette. The silky egg yolk permeates the frisée tendrils, and the bacon and pig’s ear offer contrast and intensity. Symon boosts the vinegar ratio in his dressings for a sharp, assertive bite.
My husband ordered the classic Roast burger with cheddar, bacon and a fried egg, on an English muffin, with crisp rosemary fries and smoky-sweet housemade ketchup. This is no ordinary burger. It’s over the top, American fare, with a decidedly upscale twist. It’s rich, deeply flavored, and completely satisfying.
Roast’s atmosphere is polished, professional, yet casual and friendly. It’s located in the newly restored, historic Book Cadillac hotel in downtown Detroit, and you simply must visit if you’re in the Motor City.
Symon’s star is rising, and he’s staying true to his Midwest roots: Watch for his next venture: Bar Symon, an American brasserie west of Cleveland.