Chilled Lobster Salad consists of romaine, tomato, egg, cucumber, and creamy lemon dressing. (Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)
A couple of anniversaries are coming up at Diamond Jim Brady’s Bistro, one relatively small, the other significant.
The first, in October, is the third anniversary of the move from a location in the rear to cozy, bistro-sized quarters on a prominent corner at the Novi Town Center. The second, in December, will mark an impressive 60 years since founder Jim Brady opened what he called a “saloon” on Seven Mile at Greenfield in Detroit.
Little did he know what a legacy he would be leaving, nor how food would change — and not change — over the years. The current Diamond Jim’s menu of contemporary American fare includes dishes never seen at the original, dishes like almond-crusted ruby trout with garlic beurre blanc and basil-crusted chicken breast filled with boursin cheese. Happily, though, the menu also includes the famous burger, made with the same blend of beef cuts, and chili that proprietors Mary Brady, whose late husband Tom was Jim Brady’s son, and Sharon Juergens, both credentialed chefs, have been known to call “50 year-old chili.” Pretty soon, they’ll have to make that “60 year-old chili.”
The setting is a stylish room with the open kitchen on one wall, the bar on the other and a row of curving, high-backed banquettes and high-topped tables in between on black and white checkerboard floor. There are patios on two sides for those who prefer dining al fresco style, and they just about double the 50 seats in the main space. Interesting art works, including a number of French Impressionist reproductions, and an eye-catching ’20s vintage Garland wood-burning stove warm up the space. Service is friendly and unpretentious, like the place itself. And it’s also knowledgeable.
Juergens became a partner in the enterprise three years ago, and she fits in seamlessly, working with Brady and sous chef Greg Brown. Her background at Streetside Seafood shows up in the fish and seafood dishes that are often specials on the menu. And it’s an extremely well-organized menu, starting with some tempting “snacks,” typified by almonds dressed up with rosemary, sea salt and olive oil and proceeding to the list of flatbreads — a nice alternative to the ubiquitous pizza — salads and “bistro plates,” which include a good Caesar salad or the equally appealing toss of mixed greens. Pretty much everything is made in-house, including the array of tempting desserts that stars a luscious chocolate pretzel bar with gelato and salted caramel.
The small bar is integrated nicely into the dining area with its backing of wooden wine crates and nicely displayed bottles, with some arranged in a sort of kiosk between the dining room and patio area.
Diamond Jim Brady’s Bistro, circa 2014, epitomizes what diners want these days. It’s a winning combination of casual tavern and ambitious kitchen in an affordable price structure.
Note: The bistro will close for the Fourth of July weekend.
Diamond Jim Brady's Bistro
43271 Crescent, Novi Town Center, Novi
Call: (248) 380-8460
Rating: 3 stars (out of 4)
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-midnight Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun.
Prices: Appetizers $10-$14, lunch entrees $10-$12, salads $8-$14, sandwiches $7-$12, dinner entrees $17-$27, desserts $7. Sunday brunch dishes $8-$14, sides $4.
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar and good wine and beer lists
Noise level: Moderate
Parking: Attached lot
Wheelchair access: No barriers
Joe Tinney, who is visiting from Glasgow, Scotland, will play guitar and sing from 6-10 p.m. Thursday at Diamond Jim Brady’s Bistro.
Tinney learned to play the guitar from his father at the age of 16. He is in a band named the Plundering Sons and plays regular gigs at home. In addition to playing in the U.S., he's also taken the stage in Ireland. His day job is as a graphic designer for the Glasgow Fire Brigade.
The event is free.