Monday, December 28, 2009


Happy Holidays! and sorry I haven't written in awhile. Of all the funny things I attempt to say, I think the funniest may be when I apologize for not writing, as if anyone actually noted and cared that I have been slacking.

Last year, the Westin Book Cadillac opened with much fanfare as a symbol of possible rebirth (not literal - literal rebirth would be gross and difficult to replicate though my brother has kind of tried to replicate the experience) for the city of Detroit. The Book Cadillac had been abandoned for many years and some kindly developers from Ohio were nice enough to renovate the building inside and out, bring the Westin hotel chain to the party, and also include a few new restaurants to boot. The most prominent restaurant to be launched was Michael Symon's Roast to strong reviews and positive word of mouth. Michael Symon is a meat kind of guy and the restaurant is heavily slanted toward the consumption of meat stuffs. After hearing good things from friends, Maureen took me there for birthday dinner last summer and we enjoyed the experience and the food quite thoroughly.

It was with some trepidation that I returned to Roast last night with Maureen and our buddies Stephanie and Reid because since the last time I had eaten there, Michigan has faced ongoing tough news (GM declared bankruptcy shortly after my inaugural Roast dining experience) and the global economy hasn't taken a strong turn for the better (despite what the stock market shows) with Michigan and Detroit bringing up the rear. I was nervous last night that we would show up at a restaurant slowly slogging toward death, half-empty, with the wait staff clearly attempting to steal silverware and plates before the lenders show up to repo whatever copper wiring was left in the walls.

Somewhat to my surprise on a Sunday night, Roast was packed and apparently still going strong. This brought a degree of optimism to my hardened heart that splashy openings and stories of renovation aren't necessarily destined to insta-failure in the Motor City. Granted, the story of the new Book Cadillac still has a ways to go before it plays itself out, but my dining experience last night actually moved my mind away from assumed catastrophe, and I like that quite a bit. The only thing I didn't like was when Maureen and Reid attempted to spike my water with salt, the only reason being I had to pee three times during the dinner because I had too much water to drink. My astute observational skills prevented me from ingesting salt water, and I will begin planning my revenge immediately.

This isn't meant as a review of Roast, but I, and my fellow diners, have loved everything I have eaten there in my two visits. I say everything because the sides at the restaurant are crazy delicious. We decided last night that we'd like to go back soon and have a meal entirely of side dishes. I'm still not sure how is it possible that with the millions of variations of mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese I have eaten in my life, I can eat the Roast variations and have such a strong positive reaction. If you have never eaten brussel sprouts (they're Maureen's favorite vegetable, which is evidence to me that she is crazy) and would like to put a toe in the brussel sprout pool to swim with Maureen, there is surely nowhere better in the world to eat brussel sprouts than Roast. You'll just have to take my dining party's word on this one.

The meal can get a little bit on the expensive side, but you need to treat yourself every now and again if possible. This made it a little more surprising to me how busy the restaurant was despite "the dark times." I hope that I am not forced to eat my brussel sprouty words if the restaurant goes under in less than 12 months' time. I think we're all pulling for the success of the Book Cadillac and further hard evidence that trying to make things beautiful within the dilapidated is not a waste of time and money.

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