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Restaurant near Detroit's Orchestra Hall?

r
rweater Dec 17, 2007 10:17 AM

Hello,
I'm looking into Christmas gifts for my parents and I would like to get them tickets to a matinee at Orchestra Hall and an early dinner at a nice restaurant in the area.

My dad is a meat-and-potatoes guy and my mom is a little more of a more adventurous eater who appreciates lighter options. I don't live there any more, so I'm not familiar with a lot of what might be in that area. Any ideas? I'm not sure I can go for some place as expensive as the Whitney or Rattlesnake Club, but I'd like some place nice.

  1. r
    rweater Dec 18, 2007 07:04 AM

    Those all sound like great suggestions. I'm definitely going to check out the Majestic and Woodward, and probably Mario's and Atlas. I know they've been to other Andiamo locations as well and enjoy it.

    10 Replies
    1. re: rweater
      m
      mrfood1965 Dec 21, 2007 05:51 AM

      I'll second Atlas Global Bistro. Nice place and consistently good food. Not as closeby Orchestra Hall but the definition of meat and potatoes is Carl's Chop House. Mom won't find much light fare there however. At the upper end of the price range don't forget Cuisine in the New Center Area.

      1. re: mrfood1965
        b
        boagman Dec 21, 2007 10:14 AM

        And I would disagree with Cuisine as a recommendation. Though I was only there once, once was enough to put me off from the place. A wholly forgettable-to-downright-bad "chocolate souffle," completely absent wait staff (on a night that wasn't busy, no less!), and I just have never felt any pull to return there and give them my money. If I want eye-roll-inducing food and bad service, I can get that *much* cheaper!

        1. re: boagman
          m
          mrfood1965 Dec 22, 2007 06:31 AM

          Oops, just thought I'd throw Cuisine into the mix. Mea culpa I've not been there yet although it's been on my list of restaurants to try for some time now. What beyond the service and the souffle was not up to snuff? Thanks.

          1. re: mrfood1965
            j
            Jim M Dec 22, 2007 08:33 AM

            I had the single best entree I've had in Detroit in the last few years at Cuisine, although the service was a little odd and my soufflé was also unspectacular. It was a sturgeon. But this is way out of this person's price range--unless you ordered a steak at the Whitney, Cuisine is even more expensive than the Whitney.

            With the new Orchestra Hall complex getting such heavy use, restaurateurs are really missing a chance to put in a nice but not over-the-top restaurant right there. There's all kinds of empty space on that side of the street, or you could go into the new condos nearby, or even one of the side streets.

            Greektown would be another idea--Mosaic is the place at the upper end, but is not terribly expensive.

            1. re: Jim M
              b
              boagman Dec 22, 2007 12:15 PM

              And, see Jim, I don't think I could reconcile the two: fantastic entree (at exorbitant price) and unspectacular other courses (again, at exorbitant prices) with "odd" (that's a generous word) service.

              I remember a few years ago going to the Early American Room at the Dearborn Inn. The food was absolutely wonderful, and the service was abysmal! We're talking lobster bisque served *without a spoon*, water glasses *constantly* empty (while another table was being completely doted upon), requested wine not being brought with the entree (with a debacle of "trying to get it taken care of"), several other things, and the coup de grace: they *overbilled me* on my credit card!

              Suffice it to say that they *eventually* apologized unreservedly (after I disputed the charge with my CC company *and* moved up the ladder of the hotel to the general manager), refunded the entire meal, and I haven't been back. Too bad, too, because the food was just terrific. However, when I'm spending more than a few hundred dollars to feed a table of five, and we're there for every course, and yes, we were having some drinks (so it wasn't as though they weren't making money, here) as well as getting a specially requested dessert, the service at such a five-star place had better be on their toes! We weren't expecting a butler or anything, but holy stinking cow...

              That's kind of how it felt at Cuisine...without the good food part. It's a *very* nice setting, without all of that "great food and service" stuff to get in the way.

              I regret ever giving them my money, honestly. That I tipped, too, just grinds my gears.

            2. re: mrfood1965
              b
              boagman Dec 22, 2007 12:00 PM

              Mr. Food, I can't say what else wasn't up to snuff. I was trying the place out based on others' recommendations, and going to a high-end dining restaurant and trying dessert is a good way of "trying on" a restaurant for me. So I went on a Sunday night to have the "chocolate souffle" that was listed on their website menu, which I called beforehand to make sure they'd have.

              I'm *still* upset with myself for leaving a tip there. Honest: in order to pay my bill, I *had to* go up to the bar and get the bartender to cash me out. The wait staff was nonexistent! I couldn't complain about the souffle because *they weren't there* to ask about it! They never came by to check on it and see if it was good, they never refilled my water glass...N-O-T-H-I-N-G!

              To this day, I still cannot fathom why this place is revered as it is. They could be serving the food of the gods and I wouldn't go there. Service counts, and at the prices they charge, it counts for a *lot*.

              1. re: boagman
                j
                Jim M Dec 22, 2007 03:32 PM

                The "odd" service in my case consisted of a political rant from the waiter, unprompted by anything I said. Definitely uncalled-for. I don't know . . . some days I'd agree with you, but if the food's good enough I'll sometimes put aside my irritation. It's the Seinfeld "Soup Nazi" phenomenon, I guess. There are several "our way or the highway" places that I like, although I've had disagreements with each one. Le Dog in Ann Arbor is notorious; until you get to know the guy he's almost intentionally obnoxious. But I had lobster bisque in a fine old New England hotel one week, then came back and had his the following week--and his was better. For that I'm willing to put up with some quirks.

                1. re: Jim M
                  b
                  boagman Dec 22, 2007 03:49 PM

                  Yeah, I guess we're just two different kinds of people, then, because such things like you're describing would probably drive me to beat said people into various stages of arterial hemorrhaging. Someone like the Soup Nazi would never, *ever* get my money. I vote with my wallet quite effectively, and service is definitely a part of what I'm paying for. If you're not able to do your job reasonably well, you're in the wrong business. If you're like that, perhaps you'd do best shopping your wares in some kind of vending machine...at least I don't expect much of a degree of service from them. Sometimes obnoxious behavior can be expected and/or endearing, depending upon the setting, the price range, etc. Example: Ed Debevic's in Chitown wouldn't be the same if you *weren't* mistreated...but that's to be expected, and it's hardly a high-end restaurant, either.

                  It's funny that you mentioned Le Dog's lobster bisque in Ann Arbor...my brother and I were both taken aback while walking to the UM/OSU game that what basically boiled down to a hot dog stand had the audacity to serve and *advertise* that they had lobster bisque available. We both laughed, figuring that it would be somewhere along the lines of a Campbell's Soup lobster bisque or something. We didn't stop in, of course.

                  Now you've got me all curious. DARN YOU, JIM! ;)

                  1. re: boagman
                    j
                    Jim M Dec 22, 2007 04:20 PM

                    All I can say is that he's a local character who is a trained chef and a very good cook. To be fair, he now often has friendly young people working the front, so you don't always get the full brusque treatment.

                    If you (or anyone else) goes: the Liberty Street hot dog stand, run by the one and only Jules, is open M-F lunches only. The Main Street branch, which is run by his friends and relatives (much nicer to strangers) and does not have all the specials, is open fpr Saturday lunches too. Lobster bisque is on Thursday and Friday only. They may well run out, and if so you are SOL. Tuesday and Wednesday on Liberty (not at Main) often (but not always) bring other specials that range from good (pozole) to excellent (chicken paprikash and other Hungarian dishes--his background is Hungarian), to outstanding (cassoulet, which he does just a few times a year, and he does it the old-fashioned way, assembling it out of ingredients that take several days to prepare). These often run out by 12:30 or so. The basic daily soups are almost always good. The dogs themselves are also fine--Koegel's from Flint if I'm not mistaken, which is an excellent hot dog. They're steamed.

              2. re: mrfood1965
                x
                xman887 Dec 22, 2007 12:34 PM

                my wife end i went to cuisine before a show at the fisher a few years ago. being an old house, i thought the place was beautiful. i can't remember a thing about the meal - that underwhelming. but i do remember thinking that it cost way too much for what we got. have not been back since.

                speaking of "old house" dining, there was a place just east of woodward north of the comerica park area. probably 15 years ago. i think it was called "edmond place" but not sure. they specialized in southern food. went there twice and liked it but it's gone now. anyone remember the place?

        2. b
          brendastarlet Dec 17, 2007 02:24 PM

          How about either Traffic Jam or the Majestic?

          2 Replies
          1. re: brendastarlet
            j
            Jim M Dec 17, 2007 02:52 PM

            Both good, both oriented toward younger folks, and meat-and-potatoes is a tough find at TJ's. You could do the Whitney for lunch, which is a lot cheaper. You could send 'em to Andiamo in the Ren Cen, nice but not over the top pricewise, festive, with view of river, valet parking--all they have to do is drive behind the Ren Cen and pull up. The Woodward, just north of Campus Martius, would be another good choice, and I have a feeling it would fall right into the sweet spot between your parents' tastes. Closer to Orchestra Hall are Atlas and Mario's, which I haven't tried, but they get thumbs up from others on this board. Mario's is old-school Italian; Atlas is more contemporary.

            1. re: Jim M
              x
              xman887 Dec 17, 2007 07:30 PM

              all good recs. i really like the woodward and atlas.

              jad lunch at mario's today. first time in a long time. cup of thick minestrone. nice house salad. three medalions of veal saltimboca which was excellent with a side of pasta with meat sauce. the room was full and decorated for chrustmas. very nice meal.

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