If the name Rusted Crow rings a bell, it’s probably because of the Dearborn Heights craft distillery and tasting room by that name that preceded the new restaurant on the first floor of the restored Kales Building by a couple of years.
The new Rusted Crow joins the burgeoning downtown restaurant scene, with an artistic setting that takes advantage of the high-ceilinged space in the 1914 building with cleverly repurposed antique metal and wood, murals of famous Americans from Abraham Lincoln to Ty Cobb, by artist Josh Skeel, and an all-day menu that doesn’t try to do too much but has some flair.
The kitchen in the lower level handles American standards nicely, from burgers, sandwiches and salads to a couple of seafood and steak dishes. Perhaps surprisingly, it also produces some imaginative desserts by the in-house pastry chef, Kristen Logan.
There is no sign yet on the corner of Adams and Park to mark the spot, but word is that Rusted Crow distillery founder Joe Schebel is working on a copper piece that will carry out the industrial theme. Judging by the clever interior he designed for restaurant proprietor and brother-in-law Freddy Giordino, the sign will be another hand-crafted work of art.
The attention to detail is emphasized by such items as the shop-rag napkins that come to the tables in a napkin ring made from a metal hose clip, the Edison bulbs in all shapes and size and the metal piping around the room that is used to suspend glass-shaded lamps over each sturdy varnished wood-topped table — minutia, perhaps, but you have to admire it.
The theme extends to the way food is served. Burgers come on paper-topped metal trays, the charcuterie assortment is presented on a slab of wood, and the crisp, skinny fries arrive in a tin pot.
Hamburgers come in several guises. I tried the pico burger on one of the glossy brioche buns, with trimmings of avocado, pico de gallo (thus the name), just a touch of queso fresco and spicy Cheetos, and liked it a lot. Burgers are a reasonable half pound and made with a combination of beef chuck, short ribs and brisket. Other burger varieties include the popular fried egg, with bacon and Boursin cheese and another that includes a dollop of mac and cheese. Sandwiches are imaginative too, typified by the oyster po’boy on a grilled baguette, and the Cuban with ham, roast pork and Swiss on grilled bread.
Salads include what seems lately to be an inevitable Brussels sprouts version, and there’s a very good caprese salad with multi-colored heirloom grape tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil in an assertive balsamic reduction. Chef Joe Button also offers some solid entrees, typified by shrimp scampi, grilled salmon and at the top of the price scale, an eight-ounce filet.
Something I especially like about Rusted Crow is that while it certainly offers craft cocktails, it doesn’t relentlessly push them, something I’ve noticed lately in other establishments.
78 W. Adams at Park, Detroit
Call: (313) 782-4751
Hours: 5-10 p.m. Mon., 11:30 a.m.-midnight Tues.-Thurs., 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m. Fri.-Sat., 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.
Prices: Appetizers $8-$18; salads $10-$16; sandwiches and burgers $12-$13; entrees $16-$39, housemade desserts $8-$10
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar
Noise level: Moderate to high
Parking: Nearby lots or street
Wheelchair access: No barriers
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★ — good ★★1/2 — very good
★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding