National headlines have proclaimed Detroit a hot food destination.
The latest restaurant breed tends towards new American cuisine, dedicated to local sourcing with a splash of Michigan-made beer or Detroit-distilled spirits.
In one newbie Detroit diner, a fellow patron told me she and her husband were opening a wood-fired pizza place soon.
Just off the atrium-lit lobby of the Chrysler House, a 1912 neoclassical downtown skyscraper formerly named the Dime Building, as locals still prefer to call it, is the Dime Store restaurant. This 75-seat spot is a bustling contrast to the stately architecture it occupies.
Funky, 1970s-style light fixtures are suspended from tangled black cords above the 12-seat bar. Floors are concrete, east-facing windows offer an expansive street view, and the food is locally sourced. Here, in this self-dubbed American Brunch Bar offering “breakfast, lunch and booze”, T-shirts mingle with business suits and the walls are painted with murals depicting the “heads” sides of Mercury and Eisenhower dimes.
Of course you can order a custom omelette, but why not a duck Reuben sandwich , which was the most popular item at my table recently. Other favourites include the duck bop hash and breakfast sandwiches. At Bon Bon Bon, across the lobby, for a nationally acclaimed chocolate made just minutes away. Then, work off the calories with a stroll down to the Guardian Building, a National Historic Landmark with a stunning art deco interior.
Square Detroit-style pizza is a thing – and you won’t find it at Supino Pizzeria, where round pies reflect owner Dave Mancini’s Italian roots in Supino, plus years of trial-and-error experimentation in his home kitchen.
Supino opened a decade ago. Its windows face the historic Eastern Market, where it’s a draw for take-away and sit-down diners alike.
In addition to pizza, the menu offers antipasti, daily pastas and salads. Katie’s Cannoli provides the handmade traditional dessert with chocolate sauce and pistachios. Which pizza to order? There are 13, divided into two categories: white (no sauce) and red (with). The popular Bismark is topped with mozzarella, prosciutto and egg; the Affumicata is nicknamed “the Smokey” for its combination of smoked prosciutto and smoked Gouda with roasted garlic, chopped parsley, mozzarella and ricotta. Supino is as comfortable as a pizza joint should be.
Dine at the bar and get a side order of conversation. As for the bar itself, note the eight varieties of amaro, the Italian herbal liqueur. To justify the calories, meander the market or walk the Dequindre Cut, a recreational path that leads to the Detroit River.
Take a single-storey, plain building that once housed a dry-cleaning business on a forlorn stretch between downtown and Midtown, paint the cinder block, add an attractive patio with a fireplace, and you have the foundation of a restaurant that garnered immediate raves when it opened in late 2014.
Selden Standard turns out meals with subtle flavours enhanced by a wood grill. Its narrow interior hugs diners. The decor is restrained, with graphite-coloured walls, white subway tile with in-vogue dark grout, concrete floors and a long, wooden bar that ends at the visible kitchen. But the aura of simplicity is a contrast to what arrives on the plates.
Sharing is encouraged, and at my table, we took two forks to the grilled whole trout, gussied with pineapple puree, guajillo chillies and herbs. It’s possibly the best restaurant fish preparation I’ve ever had.
They’re opening another restaurant in another neighbourhood, one of many proposed to satisfy Detroit’s large appetite for new dining.