Restaurant critic dishes on Restaurant of the Year

Sozai chef/owner Hajime Sato at Sozai restaurant in Clawson.

Sozai chef/owner Hajime Sato at Sozai restaurant in Clawson.

Happy Restaurant of the Year Week!

This week, I unveiled the 2022 10 Best New Restaurants list, the Restaurant of the Year Classic and the Restaurant of the Year.

For years, I’ve followed Freep’s Restaurant of the Year coverage, in which the restaurant critic celebrates the establishments that have excelled in food, service and ambience. Last year, I was even thrilled to see former restaurant critic Mark Kurlyandchik, pivot to honor the chefs and restaurateurs who gave back to the Detroit community at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic with the 2021 Food Fighters feature.

As Freep’s new dining and restaurant critic, it was important to me that the Restaurant of the Year package reflect a sense of evolution. That it bridge tradition and humanitarianism to set a new standard for the restaurant industry in the Detroit area.

Detroit Free Press restaurant critic Lyndsay Green in the studio on Wednesday Nov. 5, 2021.

Detroit Free Press restaurant critic Lyndsay Green in the studio on Wednesday Nov. 5, 2021.

Though we remain in the throes of the pandemic, I resisted the instinct to return to normal and instead, sought to define the terms of a new normal. A normal that forges a path for a sustainable future. In my conversations with restaurateurs, it became clear that this is consistent with the mindset of those who opened dining establishments over the past year.

In 2021, restaurateurs were motivated to build humanitarian and environmental efforts into their business models to create a more sustainable food industry. The 2022 class of 10 Best New Restaurants, Restaurant of the Year Classic and Restaurant of the Year, are innovating ways to eliminate food waste, to create more diverse workplaces and to practice sustainable and local sourcing methods.

This year, the Restaurant of the Year package redefined what it means to be “the best.” It set a new standard that excellent food is just a base line, and that serving the community is where they go above and beyond the call. It’s the bonus, the extra credit, the brownie points if you will.

I hope these restaurants inspire you to do your part in eating for good – Hajime Sato, the chef and owner of Sozai, our 2022 Restaurant of the Year, has illuminated the notion that bluefin tuna, for example, is an endangered species.

And if nothing else, I hope my reviews of each restaurant at the very least, make you hungry.

— Lyndsay C. Green, Detroit Free Press restaurant critic

Here’s a look at our delicious list of restaurants you’ll certainly want to visit, with links to full reviews.

Top 10 Best New Restaurants

  1. Baobab Fare, Detroit: Best new restaurant brings entirely new cuisine to city.

  2. Madam, Birmingham: Their Michigan cherry pie is unlike any pie you’ve seen.

  3. The Dixboro Project, Superior Township: 3-in-1 restaurant executes dishes with elegance.

  4. Freya, Detroit: A taste of fine dining without the rules.

  5. Shelby, Detroit: Food almost outshines cocktails at Detroit speakeasy.

  6. Sylvan Table, Sylvan Lake: GPS directions to this restaurant are like a bad prank.

  7. Metropolitan Bar and Kitchen, Detroit: This restaurant may have the best Caesar salad in Detroit.

  8. Supergeil, Detroit: Flavor of döner hit me like a mouthful of Pop Rocks.

  9. Barda, Detroit: Sit at the bar for best view at magnetic Detroit restaurant.

  10. Coriander Kitchen and Farm, Detroit: Restaurant’s isolated, canal-side dining experience is majestic.

Restaurant of the Year Classic

Restaurant of the Year

Thank you for supporting the Free Press with your digital subscription. It makes work like Lyndsay’s truly possible.

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Until next week,

Elissa Robininson, Free Press Web Editor

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Your Week in metro Detroit: Restaurant critic dishes on Restaurant of the Year

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