Joe Muer's Detroit
i had lunch at joe muer seafood for the first time yesterday.
it is in the same space where seldom blues used to be and it is giant, which means a lot of overhead costs - unless gm is subsidizing the rent - and prices that need to cover the overhead. valet parking is provided right outside the door or you can simply park in the deck your self and walk across.
upon entering, the hostess stand and two large aquariums are to the right and there are two small glass walled private (?) dining rooms on the left. toward the front is a very large bar with flat screens around the room. a sushi bar (definately not a joe muer concept) takes up one whole side of the bar. closer to the river are tables and a piano bar. the dining room is split into two rooms facing huge a wall of glass that offers spectacular views of the river and windsor. nice room, but very modern and minimal in contrast to the dark clubby feel of the old joe muer's former cigar factory - but it is a new beginning and joe vicari never promissed a replica of the old place. there were a lot of people there during lunch, but the room is so big, it was never more than half full.
after we were seated a serve came to the table with two tall glass bottles of water: still or sparkling. a bit pretentious, but whatever. another server came by with "the amuse": joe's white bean salad, a small dish of whitefish pate, and a basket of bread and crackers. the white bean salad was close to joe's - same acidic bite, cold, and served in the same silver tray. but is was just a little off. maybe it was the dice of red pepper. pate is not my thing, but i tried one bite, and it was just ok. no tray of cottage cheese. not my thing, but that is the way it used to be.
i started with soup - another waiter heard us mulling options and stopped to recommend the trio - three two ounce servings of new england style clam chowder, manhattan style seafood chowder, and lobster bisque. served in a single long dish with three connecting cups, the servings looked to be more generous than two ounces. the clam chowder was nice. the seafood chowder had a nice broth with some spice to it, and the bisque had a good flavor and a fair amount of lobster meat, though it was not as good as the d.a.c.'s bisque (which i had on tuesday). my guest had a martha's vineyard salad, which looked like a typical martha's vineyard salad.
for lunch i had the carmelized whitefish with crisp capers and parsley butter sauce from the "muer traditions" section of the menu. i chose it because it was the closest thing to my all time joe's favorite: seared salmon with carmelized capers in a parsley butter sauce. the whitefish was a healthy sized filet and it was good, but i really wished it was a piece of salmon because that is what i remember from joe's. they do have a piece of salmon in the "modern classics" section of the menu - miso glazed. maybe next time i will see if they can sear a piece of salmon for me. my guest had the same thing and liked it. the fish was served with a choice of creamed spinach or stewed tomatoes. i chose the spinach and it was good. my guest liked the tomatoes. i would have preferred a small dish of joe's coleslaw, but it is not on the menu.
service was spotty. attentive at times, but our server disappeared at the end of the meal and another waiter dropped off the check affter a long delay. she reappeared to collect the bill.
the total bill for the two entrees, a soup trio, a salad, and two iced teas was $55 plus tip. i think the whitefish was about $15. there was a piece of florida striped bass on the menu that stood out because it was priced at $26. i have heard that dinner prices are steep with some entrees reaching $40.
so overall, it is good to have a little bit of the old joe muer's back. not quite the same food and definately not the same clubby atmosphere of the old joe's - even though it is in a nice room with a great view. the white beans and the entree brought back fond memories but it was not quite the same. i don't hate the place just because it is owned by joe vicari, but i don't love it either. will i go back? i probably will, but i won't go often. the ren cen is just too out of the way with parking hassles and the place is expensive. for the sake of downtown dining, i hope the place has some staying power.
Don't get your hopes up, or at the very least, don't get your hopes up all that high. Remember that this isn't simply the resurrection of Joe Muer's...this is the resurrection of the Joe Muer's *name* as done by/interpreted by the Andiamo chain, which to me is a very, *very* big distinction. Based on the Andiamo's chain, expect very pricey mediocrity, at best. Then, maybe you won't be very disappointed.
Just my take on it, anyway. Have you seen the prices they're charging? I mean, I know it's some prime real estate, but d-stinking-ang...they don't appear to have a problem with a lack of confidence.
I'll let others test these waters before I waste my time and money.