I’ve been eating lunch in downtown Detroit for nearly two decades, and it’s been fun and amusing to see lunch options explode over the past few years. New restaurants spring up seemingly every day to accommodate the swelling numbers of people working and living downtown.
Today, it’s a struggle to decide where to go. Campus Martius food trucks, or one of the coney islands? Greektown or Foxtown? The hot new bistro, or the even newer hot new bistro?
I like to start walking in one direction and see what happens. Last week I did this, aiming toward the historic, 18-floor Kales Building at 76 W. Adams. I happened upon the Rusted Crow bar and restaurant on its first official day of business (I have a knack for showing up at restaurants on their opening day).
Rusted Crow is a steampunk-themed distillery and tasting room in Dearborn Heights that opened in 2014. Naturally, this new downtown Detroit outpost makes cocktails. Bottles of Davy Jones’ Rum, Murder Mitten Moonshine, Ginstache Gin and Detroit Steam Vodka are stacked on wooden shelves behind the bar, ready to be mixed with the fresh-cut fruit, herbs and juices. You can also buy bottles to take home.
One of the signature drinks is a “Detroit Steamsicle” made with Detroit Steam Vodka, orange juice, simple syrup, cream and Faygo cream soda. Craft cocktails run $10-$11, which is standard these days. The beer on draft is mostly of the craft variety, and everything from Budweiser to Bell’s Two Hearted is available in bottles. More than a dozen wines by the glass are available, ranging $6-$16.
Nothing on the food menu tops $16, and options include five types of salads, sandwiches and burgers. Some interesting options are the pico burger with flash-fried avocado, pico de gallo, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and queso fresco. Rusted Crow also does an oyster po boy, fish tacos, a marinated portobello burger and a char-grilled octopus appetizer.
The restaurant follows the trendy, steampunk style with a copper bar, Edison-style lighting, steamer trunks piled behind the bar, reclaimed wood and rusted metal accents. The 16 beer taps are made out of what look like wooden shoe molds. Homages to Detroit heroes like Henry Ford and Ty Cobb are painted on the walls, plus a large mural of the Spirit of Detroit with a crow’s head.
Wine shop on the way
Coming next to Rusted Crow in the Kales Building is the Royce. This wine and home goods store will also sell wine by the glass and small plates to be consumed in-house.
The shop is owned by Flint native Angela Rutherford, a former design manager for the New York Times, and Ping Ho, who used to be vice president of Digital Business Development for Warner Music Group. They’ve tapped Bobby Vance, former bartender and wine buyer for Republic Tavern, as assistant general manager. Expect the Royce to debut within the next month.