Jim Brady’s Detroit revives memories of a Diamond

Molly Abraham

Jim Brady’s Detroit might seem like an odd name for a restaurant in the heart of downtown Royal Oak.

There’s a story behind it, of course. The name is a reference to the place that inspired it — Diamond Jim Brady’s, a turn of the century style bar/restaurant on Detroit’s Seven Mile Road founded in 1954 that had a 35-year run. The place is still fondly remembered for its burgers, chili, Irish coffee and especially for its warm family atmosphere.

The new restaurant, opened by Tom Brady and his friend and business partner Darin Dingman in December, pays homage to Tom’s grandfather Jim, the man who founded the original.

Although some memorabilia is displayed, including an evocative black-and-white mural of the old place and more vintage photos on the bar menu and coasters, it’s far from a replica. It is much larger, comfortably seating some 180 in the space that once housed the Oxford Inn, in a colorful contemporary setting that includes comfortable padded chairs at the long bar that stretches across the back wall. There are also tables and booths in a variety of rooms, under globe lights and street signs — Woodward, Seven Mile, Greenfield, Main, Cass and Peterboro — signs that substitute for the New York street signs that were at the original.

The menu is diner-friendly, and it spotlights signature hand-patted burgers made with Black Angus beef chuck cooked on a flat-top grill and served on sesame seed buns just like the old days. There are several variations on the theme, including a spicy chipotle sparked patty with bacon and pepper jack cheese, and a turkey burger with feta, herbs and garlic.

It’s an approachable list that isn’t trying to be on top of every trend, despite the baby kale atop the grilled salmon that is one of the entrees at both lunch and dinner. Chef Dave Ogren, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, is in charge of a busy kitchen that stays open until midnight.

In addition to the burgers, there are some hefty sandwiches ranging from the French dip, roasted sirloin, Swiss cheese and horseradish sauce on ciabatta bread and a grilled chicken club that includes applewood smoked bacon, Gouda cheese and a salad’s worth of fresh vegetables, as well as an interesting combination of a grilled chicken breast served atop of a wedge of iceberg lettuce along with bacon, grape tomatoes, Gorgonzola and blue cheeses.

The entrée list is rounded out with a couple of steaks – center cut fillet and top sirloin, each accompanied by garlic whipped potatoes – and such seafood choices as seared tuna, pan-roasted salmon and fish and chips. There’s an attractive bargain every day, typified by Monday’s half-off burgers.

Should anyone wonder why Peterboro is on one of the street signs, it’s because that it is where another Jim Brady’s Detroit is going to be in the future. Brady and company have purchased the old Chung’s building on Cass and Peterboro in Detroit.


Jim Brady’s Detroit

1214 S. Main, Royal Oak

Call: (248) 306-1954

Rating: ★★★

Hours: 11 a.m.-midnight daily (bar later).

Prices: Appetizers $7-$25 (the latter for a jumbo shrimp cocktail), soups and salads $4-$15, burgers and sandwiches $8-$12, entrees $12-$35, desserts $3-$7.

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: Full bar

Noise level: Moderate

Parking: Attached lot

Wheelchair access: No barriers

What the ratings mean

★ — routine ★★ — good

★★1/2 — very good ★★★ — excellent

★★★★ — outstanding