This week, the Detroit Free Press announced the 2022 10 Best New Restaurants, recognizing eateries that opened between Jan. 1, 2021-Dec. 5, 2021.
The restaurateurs behind this year’s most noteworthy dining establishments committed to plating outstanding meals and offering excellent service — but that was just a baseline. They were also community-minded, innovating new ways to feed the needs of the neighborhood, or in some instances, the world at large.
This year’s 10 Best New Restaurants are in an ambitious class of establishments serving up stellar dining concepts with heart.
Related: Best new metro Detroit restaurants have heart in industry’s darkest hour
No. 10: Coriander Kitchen and Farm, Detroit
At Coriander Kitchen and Farm, farmer Gwen Meyer entrusts chef Alison Heeres with the task of transforming farm-fresh ingredients into comforting, no-frills dishes. Heeres, with her relaxed approach, honors Meyer’s craft, using simple flavors that allow Coriander ingredients to remain the focus. She also relies on Meyer’s herbs to add interest to otherwise mild flavors. Tender strips of lamb shoulder, slick with pungent zhug, share a bowl with lentils and pickled green tomatoes from the farm. The dish is then topped with a generous handful of dill and parsley, heady and just barely chopped. There’s nowhere else to enjoy an affordable, farm-fresh, waterside meal, surrounded by nature in the heart of the city.
Read the full review on Coriander Kitchen and Farm.
No. 9: Barda, Detroit
With Barda, chef Javier Bardauil introduces Detroit to the parilla, a restaurant flanked by wood-burning hearths or grills, commonplace in the chef’s native Argentina. Bardauil honors the parillas of his home country with authentic Argentinian techniques and Latin American flavors. Pink slices of bife marbled with sheer, buttery fat are laid to rest atop a bed of herbaceous chimichurri butter. Tira de Asado, or short ribs, are meaty, about the size of a cellphone circa the 1980s, and flecked with cracked coriander. Barda, though carving an identity that is entirely its own, does assume one quality that nods to Magnet, the short-lived New American restaurant that first occupied the space. Barda is magnetic.
Read the full review on Barda.
No. 8: Supergeil, Detroit
German for super-cool, Supergeil is exactly what it says it is — a super-cool restaurant. As big as the space is on art, design and music — lively tunes blare through the dining room and a small record collection sits on display just beside the bar — it’s even bigger and bolder in flavor. Supergeil’s specialty is the Berlin-style döner kebab, once only available locally at Hamtramck’s Balkan House. Lamb, beef and chicken are seasoned spectacularly and cooked on vertical rotisseries. The whirling meat is shaved into thin slices, chopped and stuffed into triangular pockets of pide, a fluffy Turkish flat bread. Super-cool, right?
Read the full review on Supergeil.
No. 7: Metropolitan Bar and Kitchen, Detroit
Chefs Brendon Edwards and Hailey Enszer bring a new vision to a century-old West Village mainstay with Metropolitan Variety Store + Bar and Kitchen. The restaurant boasts a Latin American flair, drawing predominantly from Edwards’ time in Mexico. Baby potatoes are equally crisp, creamy and slick in a pungent romesco verde, an herbaceous marinade of green peppers, garlic, cilantro, parsley and pepitas. Vegetarian tostadas are sweet and savory with saccharine maduros, or ripened plantains, and Peruvian Aji Verde. There is also a reprieve from the Latin American theme. In fact, Metropolitan just might serve the best Caesar salad in Detroit.
Read the full review on Metropolitan Bar and Kitchen.
No. 6: Sylvan Table, Sylvan Lake
When you plug the address for Sylvan Table into your GPS, you might end up at McDonald’s. But just beyond the golden arches is Sylvan Table, the rustic barn-turned-restaurant on 5 acres of farmland. Executive Chef Christopher Gadulka takes the farm-to-table concept to new heights, sourcing seasonal ingredients from the restaurant’s own land and nearby growers. The Bee Sting Flatbread, a sweet-and-spicy starter, is perfectly chewy at the center and charred around the edges. Thin slices of salty soppressata are dotted with ricotta laced with citrusy lemon and thyme. The crown jewel of the dish, though, is the honey drizzled on top. It’s glossy and gilt and sourced from the 12 hives in Sylvan Table’s own backyard.
Read the full review on Sylvan Table.
No. 5: Shelby, Detroit
Shelby is Detroit’s most successful speakeasy. Coffee Down Under, an underground coffee shop, is the restaurant’s disguise. The shop’s barista duals as Shelby’s maître d’. Dressed in casual clothing, the host does not ask if you have reservations, but rather waits for you to share your name and reservation time, the proverbial secret code granting you access to the blue door at the end of the narrow hallway. Shelby is swanky. Heck, a part of the dining room is even built into an old bank vault. But its small plates are approachable. Toasted nuts are dressed in a warm spice blend of cumin, chili pepper and fennel seed; and the charcuterie boards of Executive Chef Matt Tulpa’s acclaim are simple plates of sliced, fermented vegetables, a small selection of locally sourced meat, sliced toast, a dollop of butter and a spill of honey.
Read the full review on Shelby.
No. 4: Freya, Detroit
Operating out of a 2,800-square-foot former gymnasium with enough tables to seat 50, Freya works outside the parameters of the traditional tasting menu restaurant and tailors the experience to the specific needs of the diner — the Detroit diner to be exact. There are no dinner jackets required in the elegant dining room at Freya, the staff is dressed in casual attire and there is no valet. Here, luxury shows up on your plate. Bright, sweet borscht shares a bowl with creamy Beluga lentils. It’s accessorized with candy cane radish shavings, orange zest, chopped nuts and a decorative illustration in the shape of two handlebar mustaches using silky cashew crema. One plump rabbit dumpling sits in a sumptuous broth finished with umami black garlic. Freya is a gift for Detroiters.
Read the full review on Freya.
No. 3: The Dixboro Project, Superior Township
The triple-concept complex at The Dixboro Project is the only destination in the Detroit area that covers the gamut of dining styles. On the same grounds where you can tear pieces of warm, fresh-baked croissants with flaky, crackly exteriors and lacy, gooey insides, you can also slide your spoon into a smooth crème caramel in a pear consommé crowned with Italian truffles that resemble pencil shavings. Where craft lattes served in carryout cups share a menu with a French 75, and where servers carry trays of kielbasa-topped pizza as well as accoutrements for a Golden Osetra Caviar Service. The Dixboro Project has it all, with each concept churning out dishes with elegance and the same attention to detail.
Read the full review on The Dixboro Project.
Recipe: Glazed roasted chicken from The Dixboro Project
No. 2: Madam, Birmingham
Each night at Madam offers an artful experience, course after course. A salad of gem lettuces is romanticized with pastel colors from delicate nasturtium petals, watermelon radish rounds and blush-toned strawberries that are just barely ripened, offering a tart crunch with a hint of sweetness. For brunch, chips and dip are not nearly as casual as they sound. Vibrant purple potatoes are sliced thin and fried crisp and served alongside crunchy rice chips and paper-thin sheets of crinkly nori. You’ll dip the crisp munchies into a bowl of creamy crème fraîche topped with a mound of bright orange trout roe, chopped scallions and cracked black pepper. Madam is splendidly performative in flavor and presentation, but the masterpiece of the place is the dessert menu.
Read the full review on Madam.
Recipe:You’ll need firewater to make this signature Madame cocktail
No. 1: Baobab Fare, Detroit
Baobab Fare has expanded Detroit’s portfolio of cuisines with a vibrant, East African restaurant. It honors traditional dishes served in Burundi, the birthplace of husband-and-wife owners Nadia Nijimbere and Hamissi Mamba, and does so with polish and poise. In most dishes, you have the option of white coconut rice or spiced rice pilau. The question to ask is: How much flavor are you willing to pack into your experience? The coconut rice, warm and fluffy with nutty notes, creates a resting place between pungent flavors elsewhere on the plate. The pilau, often a bed for the sauce from tasty stews, is aromatic, filling your mouth with flavorings of garlic, cumin, curry and cardamom. If you’re up for an immersion into East African cooking, the pilau is the best bet.
Read the full review on Baobab Fare.
Recipe: Authentic rice dish from Best New Restaurant: Baobab Fare
Contact Lyndsay C. Green at [email protected]