The high-profile places that have sprung up around town might tend to obscure the evergreens that have paid their dues for years. Fifteen years, in the case of Cuisine, the Midtown restaurant that showcases the style of chef and proprietor Paul Grosz.
Cuisine celebrated that milestone in June, and the chef is as involved as ever despite sharing his time at the Stand Gastro Bistro in Birmingham.
Cuisine is a place for those who love small, personal restaurants. It offers seating at linen-covered tables in three small rooms, one of which houses the zinc-topped bar, on the main floor of the house that originally was a bridge club. The character of the place survives in its old woodwork and floors.
The menu is as one-of-a-kind as the house itself. Dishes are not listed as appetizers and entrees, but rather under the headings of fish, meats and vegetables. For instance, under fish you find the soup, crab corn chowder, as well as such main dishes as Alaskan halibut and scallops. The meats listing follows the same theme, with appetizers such as the charcuterie plate of housemade prosciutto, sausage and country pate as well as main courses of beef tenderloin and lamb chops.
The vegetables grouping follows suit with its salad of Lyon (the classic pairing of mixed greens, poached egg, bacon, tomato in Parmesan and garlic dressing) along with such other dishes as Brussels sprouts and candied fennel.
Each main course comes completely garnished with compatible accompaniments. My recent choice of beautifully seared golden brown scallops was teamed with creamed leeks, candied fennel and green beans, the beans cut into small pieces so that they became part of an overall blend of flavors surrounding the star of the show, the wonderfully plump and juicy seafood.
Those who order beef short ribs also are served goat cheese grits and roasted tri-color carrots, and lamb chops are plated with roasted cauliflower, red grapes, capers and pepitas (pumpkin seeds). There are no conventional combinations on chef Grosz’ menus. All the pairings illustrate his earthy and elegant style and ability to put together unexpected matings. The menu changes frequently, not just with the seasons, but with the chef’s inspirations.
The list of desserts is brief but special, with two choices of cake, chocolate and strawberry, sharing the space with the show-stopper, the souffle of the day.
It almost goes without saying that ingredients are fresh and high quality. Grosz’ credentials include an apprenticeship at Le Francais in Wheeling, Illinois, and 10 years as the executive chef at the Whitney in Detroit.
Cuisine is unpretentious and comfortable, reflecting the personality of the chef himself. And at age 15, like dessert souffles, Cuisine has achieved the status of classic.
670 Lothrop, Detroit
Call: (313) 872-5110
Hours: Dinner only, 5-10 p.m. Tues.-Sat. (and also Sundays when the season starts in October at the Fisher Theatre across the street.)
Prices: Appetizers $9-$14, entrees $22-$32, sides $6-$8, charcuterie $15, desserts $8.
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar and good wine list
Noise level: Moderate
Parking: Nearby lots or street.
Wheelchair access: No (The flight of steps at the entrance dates to the 1920s.)
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★ — good
★★1/2 — very good
★★★ — excellent
★★★★ — outstanding