The downtown restaurant scene's rapidly expanding options — they seem to increase almost weekly — now include a comfortably casual breakfast/lunch spot that also serves snacks and cocktails in the evening in a stylish setting on the lobby floor of the Chrysler House.
The catchy name derives from the building's previous life as the Dime Bank Building, and it adds just the right retro touch to the American menu, typified by omelets and Benedicts early in the day and after 11 a.m., creative sandwiches, such as the pork belly, tomato, arugula sandwich on toast and the cilantro-sparked Korean barbecue on hoagie.
The breakfast menu also includes pastries by pastry chef George Sleator, just one of the talents brought together by the trio of owners and hands-on operators, Larry Kahn, Ann-Marie Murphy and Jeff Alexander. They are longtime friends who originally met at Max & Erma's. Josh Taylor is the executive chef.
Their collaboration in the heart of downtown Detroit certainly shows their restaurant savvy. Despite the fact that their 75-seat space is modest and unpretentious, they hired the hot Birmingham firm Ron & Roman to give the setting pizzazz not often seen in a casual spot that doesn't pretend to be more than it is. Playing off the "dime" theme, the designers painted front and back images from Liberty dimes on the walls, added bulbous multicolored hanging lamps over the tiny bar and open kitchen, and found odd artifacts like old milkshake mixers and coffee makers to use as art and reclaimed school chairs for seating at the pedestal tables.
That open kitchen turns out some pretty impressive dishes, from the jazzed-up eggs Benedict sparked with pork belly, smoked salmon or shaved steak to such breakfast sandwiches as pork sausage with Gruyere cheese, tomato and a fried egg, and then segues for the lunch crowd into creative salads including a poached pear version with spinach, goat cheese and roasted pepitas in bacon vinaigrette, one of five housemade dressings.
There's also what Dime Store calls "simple salad": pristine fresh arugula, spinach and paper thin rounds of radishes and cucumbers in lemon vinaigrette. Those who order one of the 11 sandwiches, including three takes on the burger — pork, beef, and vegetarian style — can have a small version of this perfect swirl of greens at just $2.
Drinks are accompanied by an array of bar bites from spicy fries and pork sliders to notably creamy Gruyere and cheddar mac & cheese made to order in one of the big frying pans on the stove.
Paper napkins, coffee cream in paper containers, bare-topped tables and friendly waitstaff in gray T-shirts with the Dime Store logo emphasize the informality of this appealing new spot that may appear to be just another place to grab a sandwich, but offers higher culinary standards.
There is one thing missing here: on the advice of their designers, there is no TV. That's a decision that's being re-evaluated, says co-proprietor Larry Kahn. This avid sports town almost demands one, he and his partners are learning.
719 Griswold, Detroit
Call: (313) 962-9106
Hours: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Prices: Breakfast dishes $6-$12, sides $1-$3; lunch sandwiches $5-$13, salads $5-$12, sides $1.50-$4; desserts $3-$5.
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar; small beer and wine lists
Noise level: Moderate
Parking: Street or nearby structures. Dime Store validates the first two hours of parking at Universal parking structures.
Wheelchair access: No barriers