New SavannahBlue brings soul to downtown’s Times Square

Molly Abraham

I suspect a lot of locals didn’t even realize there was a downtown street called Times Square until this new spot opened last month. In any case, Times Square is firmly on the map now since SavannahBlue, an appealing, dinner-only restaurant took over the second floor of a small building overlooking the People Mover.

Watching the trains go by through big windows gives an urban feel to SavannahBlue, which takes its inspiration from the deep South and adds a sophisticated spin in both décor and menu. The setting of scrubbed old brick, charcoal-painted walls and parquet floors, with an array of seating arrangements, including a communal table big enough for a dozen, and soft lighting from open filament bulbs and flickering candles in glass votives, manages to be both comfortable and romantic.

Proprietors J.D. Simpson and Roger and Tanya Yopp made a wise choice when they entrusted young chef Christopher McClendon with the kitchen. A protégé of Schoolcraft College’s culinary program director Shawn Loving, McClendon has a subtle touch with the fare.

The single-page menu is distinctive and well-edited, with just seven entrees, including such dishes as braised oxtails with pan-roasted green beans and cheddar-tinged risotto, shrimp and grits in andouille sausage gravy, and of course, fried chicken.

There are a number of accompaniments, from flatbreads, one topped with shrimp, spinach and leeks, and another with assorted greens including Swiss chard, spinach and scallions with roasted garlic sauce and goat and mozzarella cheeses.

Since the ambiance is notably convivial, these sharable dishes work well, as do appetizers of hummus made with black-eyed peas rather than chick peas, and roasted garlic, and the house dry-rub chicken wings.

An elderflower vesper martini is one of the many featured drinks at the new SavannahBlue in downtown Detroit.

Other dinner accompaniments include a yam and arugula salad in a creamy mustard vinaigrette, the obligatory Caesar, and some interesting sides, from collard greens and shoestring potatoes to pan-roasted green beans. Lots of soul, but not traditional soul food, in the hands of chef McClendon.

There are a few tempting desserts, including sweet potato cheesecake and bananas Foster bread pudding.

Service is both caring and professional, and adds to what is a very good experience.

This is becoming a downtown hot spot in record time.


1431 Times Square, Detroit

Call: (313) 926-0783



Hours: Dinner only, 4-11 p.m.Tues.-Thurs., 4-midnight Fri.-Sat. Closed Sun.-Mon.

Prices: Soups and appetizers $7-$12, salads $8-$9, flatbreads $11-$14, entrees $14-$24, sides $5, desserts $6-$7

Credit cards: AE, MC and Visa

Liquor: Full bar

Noise level: Moderate to high

Parking: Nearby lots or street

Wheelchair access: None – it is on the second floor

What the ratings mean

★ — routine ★★ — good ★★1/2 — very good

★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding