Detroit might have been a little late to hosting a "restaurant week," an event started in New York City in the '90s, but now that the city is in the game, it's coming out swinging. This season's Detroit Restaurant Week kicks off next week -- and marks the sixth occasion in fewer than three years.
This spring's restaurant week (well, it's actually 10 days) takes place April 20 - 29 at 21 restaurants in the city. Each restaurant will have a special three-course menu for the occasion, available prix fixe for $28, not including beverages, tax and tip. It's a great deal for a sampling of fare at some of Detroit's poshest spots. No tickets are necessary, but reservations are encouraged.
Some have bashed Detroit's (lack of) dining options -- a 2011 LivingSocial survey gave Detroit the dubious honor of worst dining-out city. But others know better. Here's how the blog Eat It Detroit described the food scene in the city in a post about etiquette back in the early days of Detroit Restaurant Week:
I love that, especially here in Detroit, food has almost a cultish following, and people get really excited and passionate about it, blowing up Facebook every time some random decides to serve noodles out of her kitchen or someone hosts a dinner party in an abandoned building.
There are no kitchen noodle establishments involved this spring, but some of the city's finest restaurants, from Roast, with James Beard award-winning chef Michael Symon, to the iconic Whitney, which has racked up plenty of awards of its own. And there's a wide variety: flashy fare at Iridescence, old-fashioned Italian at Roma Cafe and organic, sustainable offerings at the Rattlesnake Club.
Dana Boyette, a spokesman for Detroit Restaurant Week, which is run by the company Paxahau, said part of the goal is to get people, whether suburbanites or Detroiters, to restaurants they wouldn't normally choose.
"We truly have achieved something special if they come back just one more time throughout the year," he said. "All we're asking them to do is include these 21 restaurants in your thinking [when planning special events]; don't just default to the Applebees on the corner." (In case you were wondering, the closest Applebees is in Harper Woods, on the 8 Mile border with Detroit.)
Detroit Restaurant Week has been offering deals on fine-dining restaurants since the event launched in 2009. Last spring, 18 restaurants brought in more than 36,000 people throughout the 10 day event, according to CBS Detroit.
It's a chance to get a good deal on an old favorite, or take a chance on something you've never tried. For a full list of participating restaurants and some sneak peaks at their menus, see below.
Not all restaurants have posted their menus yet. Boyette said that's because all of the menus are specially created, and chefs will be looking for the best ingredients.
"It's really an opportunity for chefs and their teams to spotlight their talent," he said. "If you walk around Eastern Market on Saturday you'll probably see some of the chefs."
A couple gentle reminders, before you start drooling over lobster mac-and-cheese or watermelon and chipotle-glazed short rib -- it's considered appropriate to tip (20 percent is a common standard) on the full-priced meal, not the excellent Restaurant Week discount. (For a less gentle, more entertaining lesson on how to be a good patron, head on over to Eat It Detroit.)
Boyette says one should tip on the experience, something you wouldn't necessarily get at a more casual restaurant. He also urged diners to cancel any reservations they make but can't use for the sake of the restaurants.
If you want more food photos after browsing our gallery below, we recommend the mouthwatering look at the culinary exploits of Detroit chefs, from Iridescence to the Caucus Club, on TheHungryDudes' excellent Flickr site. For further information about Detroit Restaurant Week, see the official website.
Flickr photo by TheHungryDudes.