Rose's Fine Food co-owner Lucy Carnaghi, right, serves Carmen Garcia, center, of Ferndale, and WDET-FM's Ann Delisi. (Todd McInturf / The Detroit News)
Lucy Carnaghi and Molly Mitchell quietly opened the doors of their 30-seat diner, Roseís Fine Food, named for their grandmotherís love of roses, barely two weeks ago, and immediately the swivel stools at the counter and the tables topped with reclaimed wood began filling up.
People had been watching as the proprietors spent the months since they signed the lease on the squatty one-story building restoring the space, with help from friends and family who pitched in to pull the bars off the windows and scrub decades-old light fixtures, brick and knotty pine walls and tile floors. Remarkably, just about everything could be salvaged, even some of the sturdy china plates left by the previous tenant.
They didnít try to change the character of the place ó itís still very much a diner, but one with a noticeably individual spin. The straightforward menu of simple egg dishes, notable pancakes made from grandfather Richardís recipe ó thatís his photo over the counter, along with grandmother Patriciaís ó sandwiches made with pulled chicken, lamb meatballs and local fish, and old-fashioned cinnamon buns, glazed doughnuts and homestyle cakes, testifies to that.
Just about everything is made in house, including the bread, and many of the basic dishes were inspired by the family farm in Millersburg, where the proprietors spent some childhood summers. Thereís an egg sandwich of the day, barbecue-sauced chicken smoked in the oil drum smoker by the back door and toad-in-the-hole (grilled cheese centered with a fried egg). Itís brief and to the point and will change seasonally.
Whatís especially refreshing about the place is its complete disregard for trendiness. Beverages, for instance. They include old-fashioned egg creams, made with their own vanilla syrup, as well as lavender lemon soda and blackstrap molasses milk along with the expected coffee, tea and freshly squeezed orange juice. Sides include picnic slaw made with red cabbage, stone-ground grits and beans of the day.
The food is fresh and well prepared, but thereís something else that sets this place apart. Guests are politely requested not to leave a gratuity. A note on the small paper menus advises: ďOur staff is fully compensated for their hard work and strives to give outstanding service because of that.Ē If guests do leave a tip, it is donated to a staff-chosen Detroit charity.
Corktown or Midtown might have seemed more logical locations for Roseís, but the cousins say they preferred to be in a neighborhood closer to Eastern Market. The neighborhood seems grateful for this unpretentious work in progress.
Rose's Fine Food
10551 E. Jefferson, Detroit
Call: (313) 309-7947
Web : rosesfinefood.com
Rating: 2 Ĺ stars (out of 4)
Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tues-Sun. Closed Monday.
Prices: Breakfast dishes $4.50-$9.75, sandwiches $7.75-$9.50, sides $1.25-$3, desserts $1.75-$3
Credit cards: All major
Noise level: Moderate
Parking: Attached lot
Wheelchair access: No barriers