Selden Standard’s commitment to excellence shows

Molly Abraham

Restaurants are ensemble performances. The chef may get much of the credit, but it is really the staff from top to bottom that makes or breaks it.

That is abundantly clear at Selden Standard, the top-rated restaurant that will celebrate its first anniversary on Nov. 2. The staff works seamlessly with co-proprietors Evan Hansen and Executive Chef Andy Hollyday to offer an optimum dining experience.

And so the anniversary will be marked by closing to the public for the day so that the staff has a chance to celebrate together in the setting that has become a midtown destination in record time.

Since Selden Standard is open seven days a week, serving lunch, brunch and dinner, the crew certainly deserves a break.

My most recent visit was at brunch on a Sunday. The place was comfortably full, with people at the bar, at tables, at the handful of seats at the counter in front of the wood-burning oven. Diners also could be found on the patio in the rear with its strings of open-filament bulbs giving the place a festive look even during the day.

If the word brunch evokes thoughts of lavish spreads on groaning buffet tables, think again. That’s not Selden Standard style. Brunch here is a la carte, ordered from the menu, a simple one-page list of dishes with each one a specialty, from the two salads, arugula and pear with lemon vinaigrette and roasted beets with housemade ricotta, to the pastrami hash with poached egg.

I had better stop using the word “house-made,” since at this establishment just about everything, including the butter for the scones, is made inhouse.

At my table, we ordered two of the main plates, the tortilla Espanola, a traditional Spanish egg and potato omelet, in this case with romesco sauce (minus the usual tomatoes but with the addition of almonds), and lemon ricotta pancakes with maple syrup and a scattering of fresh fruit, both lovely. Also on the day’s menu, shrimp and grits, chilaquiles with tomatillos, black beans and fried eggs, and mushroom toasts paired with a swirl of fresh greens.

The commitment to fresh and seasonal in both kitchen and bar was illustrated when I asked for a virgin Bloody Mary. The bartender explained that it wouldn’t look like the classic drink, since tomatoes are out of season in Michigan and they squeeze their own tomatoes for the juice, so it would be made with sherry vinegar and aromatic herbs, not exactly a classic Bloody Mary but a lot of the same basic flavors.

They don’t make them inhouse yet, but Hansen says, “We’re tinkering with pickles now.”

The current lunch menu parallels the brunch selection, with just a few carefully chosen dishes from a daily changing soup and a pair of sandwiches, roasted vegetables — seasonal, of course — and smoked pastrami, to flatbreads from the wood-burning oven. The menu expands greatly at dinner, with an array of grilled meats, including lamb and pork, and whole grilled trout.

The approach is as contemporary as the room itself with its white subway tile, cement floors and cedar-topped bar.

The proprietors like to call Selden Standard a neighborhood restaurant. There are a lot of neighborhoods that would love to have its style and substance in theirs.

Selden Standard

3921 Second, Detroit

Call: (313) 438-5055


Rating: ★★★★

Hours: Lunch 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri., brunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.-Sun., dinner 5-10 p.m. nightly

Prices: A la carte brunch dishes $11-$14, sides $5-$9, lunch sandwiches and entrees $10-$18, sides $4-$9, dinner entrees $14-$28, sides $7-$13, desserts $6-$9.

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: Full bar

Noise level: Moderate

Parking: Attached lot and street

Wheelchair access: No barriers