5 Bites of Detroit
July 12, 2013
The food scene in this city is experiencing a delicious renaissance
In the heart of Greektown in Detroit lies Pegasus Taverna, a family-owned and operated traditional Greek restaurant that epitomizes the ethnic diversity and showcases the cultural cuisine of the city. While many come to this boisterous restaurant after taking in a game or to see the waitstaff light one of their house dishes — Saganaki — on fire, my personal favorite was the Greek meat platter. I’d only suggest this for those dining with five or more, but it was a fantastic way to get a bite of their succulent lamb chops, gyro meat, marinated chicken, and shrimp, as well as to taste the classic Greek dishes of spanakotiropita, dolmathes, and moussaka. We paired it with some Greek red wine and in no time our table was shouting "Opa!"
London Chop House
The London Chop House is one of Detroit’s oldest and most treasured restaurants in all of the city, opening in 1938. It recently reopened in 2012 with a stellar chop house menu that exceeds gastronomic expectations. When you walk into the restaurant, you feel as if you’re being transported to another era, with a live jazz band playing classic tunes, a long bar with beautiful people sipping on martinis, and an adjacent cigar lounge. I started off my meal with fresh oysters and a classic Caesar salad, but what truly blew me away was the veal chop Oscar, a chop with asparagus, lump crab hollandaise, and a tarragon balsamic reduction. It was grilled to perfection with just the right amount of hollandaise to balance with the balsamic dressing. I’m certain the restaurant will once again become a staple in the Detroit food scene, espeically after a mention of London Chop House in the season six finale of Mad Men.
Detroit Eastern Market
For food lovers visiting the Motor City, the Detroit Eastern Market is a must-see. One can spend hours strolling through the large public market, eyeing the different food retailers, food wholesale operations, restaurants, food distributors, and food processors that are all under the Eastern Market roof. If you bring your appetite, you can bounce from stall to stall sampling different items. In the specialty food retailer section, I stumbled upon Ethel’s Edibles, a gluten-free bakery. The "hot blondies" were a hit, with people hovering around the table. The sweet treat is comprised of rich, tasty ingredients, including sweet brown sugar, creamy butter, and milk chocolate. The bakery uses a gluten-free flour blend made of Expandex modified tapioca starch, potato starch, cornstarch, corn flour, white rice flour, and xanthan gum. There were additional vendors offering samples of coffee, tea, and apple cider, to accompany a delicious bite of blondie.
While I love the smoky smells and flavors of a barbecue brisket or pulled pork, I often can find barbecue dishes to be overwhelming. After eating my way through most of Detroit and its surrounding neighborhoods, by the time I made it to Slows, I was interested in simply created dishes. Slows boasts a varied menu with gluten-free and vegetarian options to cater to all different types of diners. I opted for a plate of their homemade chicken wings and a glass of Red Streak cider they had on tap. The restaurant has a host of homemade barbecue sauces that were a delight to try with my chicken wings. My dining companions also raved about the blackened catfish and the pulled pork.
Café D’Mongos Speakeasy
While perhaps a cocktail at a super swanky speakeasy might not be considered a "bite," it was one of my favorite sips in all of Detroit. Café D’Mongos has a cool vibe the minute you walk in the door. With live music playing, I was instantly transported back into the 1920s in what I can only imagine was one of the coolest scenes in all of Detroit. What’s fascinating about the décor is the homage it pays to Detroit gangsters coupled with iconic musicians of the time period. I was also quite taken with one of the bartender’s favorite drinks, the Detroit Brown. It’s made with whiskey, Vernors (ginger ale), bitters, and a secret ingredient, according to the joint’s bartender, Chris Krsteski. This local hot spot is only open on Friday and Saturday nights and the buzz about the bar was that Hollywood heavy-hitter Ryan Gosling was in town filming a movie and had frequented D’Mongo’s on several occasions. Just another reason to hang out in Detroit.