Sunday, April 14, 2013


Celebrity Chef Michael Symon is a rock star.  He is an Iron Chef, one of the hosts of the TV show, The Stew, and a James Beard Award Winner.  He is also very much a Cleveland guy where he has three restaurants.  While he is very busy in Cleveland with his restaurants and New York with his TV shows, he decided, a couple of years ago, to open up another restaurant in Detroit, Roast.  Having seen his ideas in food on various TV shows, I was very interested in going.  He is very into nose-to-tail cooking and while his cooking is mostly accessible to most people, in many cases, he will add a twist.  I had the opportunity to visit (and eat) there on a recent visit to Detroit.  Located in the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel, in downtown Detroit, it is a large space, seating about 200 people.  The space is divided into three areas, the bar/lounge, the main dining area which is located outside the open kitchen, and the private/overflow dining area.  The space is open, with dark walls and furniture, but with glass walls and dividers and white tablecloths.  As I said, the kitchen is open with a rotisserie/grill at the front so diners can see what whole animal was being cooked.  When we were there, there was a pig rotating in the grill.  While the menus were printed, the bar/cocktail menu was on an iPad which was kind of neat and pretty convenient because they have a pretty extensive beer and wine list which doesn't require a book sized menu.  Before I went, I had heard raves about their Fried Brussels Sprouts side so it was a given that that was one of the sides that we would be getting.  In addition, we also got Spinach and Feta Au Gratin and Sweet Potatoes and Pecans.  Our sides actually arrived before our appetizers so we started with them.  As I was told, the brussels sprouts were amazing.  All of the sides were very good but the brussels sprouts require a special acknowledgement.  They were shredded and browned and were very tender.  They did have the cabbage flavor that should be expected of a member of the cabbage family but they were salty and also had a caramelized flavor.  They were very, very good.  The spinach and feta au gratin was also good.  I am generally not a huge fan of cooked spinach as it very easily takes on a soggy texture.  This did not and in fact paired very well with the feta cheese.  The Sweet Potatoes and Pecans were tender and sweet and may have had a maple syrup sauce.  They were very good but they weren't anything that I haven't had elsewhere.

As I mentioned, the food at Roast was nose to tail cooking and there were many examples of offal to be found throughout the menu.   There were a couple of examples in our appetizers which we also shared.  The most blatant were the Crispy Veal Sweetbreads with Cauliflower, Roasted Grapes, and Hazelnuts.  Sweetbreads, despite their name, are neither bread or particularly sweet.  They are actually an animal's thymus gland.  I had had them before and do like them but to try to ease other members of our party into it, our waitress said that they are like veal nuggets, which they were.  They were breaded and fried like nuggets.  The grapes and hazelnuts provided a nice counterpoint to the meat with the grapes adding a little sweetness and the hazelnuts providing a nutty crunch.  I liked them as I expected that I would but I was happy to see the that the more timid members of our party enjoyed them as well.

Offal also showed up in another of our appetizers, the Beef Cheek Pierogies which were served with Horseradish and Mushrooms.  The pierogies were soft potato dumplings and the beef cheek filling was shredded and sweet.  The mushrooms used were of wilder varieties like Trumpets and Shiitakes and added a savory flavor to the dish.  While the horseradish did what horseradish does and provided a nice sinus-clearing burn.

Our other appetizer was Stuffed Peppers with Pork Sausage, Feta Cheese, and Yia Yia Sauce.  The pepper was very tender, the sausage was spicy, and the Feta provided a nice goaty garnish.  Offal did not overtly appear in this dish but sausage is frequently made with bits and pieces that are left over and can't be used elsewhere.  This will include offal of various types.

There were many things on the menu that looked good and interesting in the entree and steak departments including veal heart but I decided that as this is primarily a steak house, I should try their steaks at least for the first time.  In that case, I ordered a Medium-Rare House Aged New York Strip with Roasted Marrow, Pickles, and Horseradish.  As I would have expected, the steak was cooked and spiced well.  It also had a very nice crust.  I really enjoy sharing with other people but I was given a bit of a hard time because I didn't share much of the marrow.  The problem was that if I had shared the meat jam, I wouldn't have had enough for myself.  It was very good but I wish that there was a little more.  The pickles served were pickles in the generic term in that I am not sure that there were any pickled cucumbers, what most people, including me, think of when I think of pickles.  There were many thinly sliced pickled vegetables including onions, peppers, carrots, and carrots and the pickle used was sweet, similar to that used with gherkins.  I did like it and it probably went better with the freshly ground horseradish than would a dill pickle. 

For my dessert, I was so excited that I forgot to take a picture so I had to do a web search and found another image from Degusting Diary which I am using.  The dessert was called Beer and Pretzels and it used Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter Ice Cream with Chocolate Covered Pretzels and Caramel Foam.  This was very good and a fitting end to a great meal.  The porter ice cream was subtle with coffee and chocolate flavors which went well with the chocolate covered pretzels.  The pretzels were actually like chocolate covered Combos.  They were salty and crunchy and had a coating of very good chocolate.  The caramel foam was also salted which tied everything together and while it was beer and pretzels, it was also a very good ice cream sundae with sweet, salty, and some bitterness.

This was a very good meal which was also a lot of fun.  While it isn't a place I could visit every week, I will certainly be back.

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