Outwardly, not much has changed at this spot between Midtown and Brush Park since it opened in 2016. It was packed pretty much every night then, and now that it has passed its first anniversary (July 28), it has gained even more momentum.
It is difficult to pinpoint exactly why. Of course, the food is well above average and the staff is well-trained. It’s attractive, if not particularly gorgeous from a decor standpoint, and, in fact, I don’t think proprietors Joe Giacomino, John and David Vermiglio and barman Will Lee care too much about that. What they do care about is maintaining a friendly atmosphere and being a good neighbor in this appealing neighborhood of new and vintage condo buildings that typifies what a city street should be.
Grey Ghost is just a pleasant place to go and while the brief menu has undergone changes, more tweaks than true changes, the character has stayed the same. It doesn’t go on and on, but is nicely edited. There are some interesting dishes to share, including a charcuterie board, smoked whitefish on a bagel, and fresh oysters Chicago style. That harks back to where the proprietors met. Oyster purists don’t care much for the neon relish of the Chicago hot dog on these delicate sea creatures, but most people are willing to give it a try, and it typifies the distinctive and sometimes humorous touches here, like the octopus corn dog and fried bologna.
The menu is divided into two categories — Meat and Not Meat. Skirt steak recently replaced flat iron steak, and the steak category is filled out with filet mignon with classic Bordelaise sauce, and dry aged New York strip with bacon-tomato pesto. Each selection is nicely garnished.
Whether choosing meat or its opposite, a must-order is the addictive skinny, salty fries and I’m willing to go out on a limb and say they are the best in a town where fries seem to be on every menu. Jerk chicken wings are meaty and are another very sharable dish.
Lamb kielbasa is served with gnocchi, mustard and green onion, and currently it is the only lamb dish on the menu. It is gently delicious, not something you can usually say about kielbasa. Another dish that is notable is heirloom tomato salad sparked with olives, capers and ricotta salata, a cheese that is similar to feta. Try this one before it is out of season.
And speaking of the season, patio seating here is very pleasant and will be for a few more weeks.
47 E. Watson, Detroit
Call: (313) 262-6534
Hours: Dinner 4-midnight nightly, brunch 2-4 p.m. Sun.
Prices: Appetizers $10 to $18 except market priced oysters, sides $4-$8, entrees $13-$55, desserts $8, late night menu $4-$8
Credit cards: All major
Liquor: Full bar with an emphasis on craft cocktails
Noise level: Moderate to high
Parking: Street and $10 valet
Wheelchair access: No barriers
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★ — good ★★ 1/2 — very good
★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding