Magnet, a tip-free, vegetable-centric restaurant from the Takoi team, opens Friday
A vegetable-centric menu of fire-roasted dishes will be the star of the show at Magnet, a new restaurant opening Friday in Detroit's Core City neighborhood.
A second venture from Philip Kafka and chef Brad Greenhill of hot Corktown restaurant Takoi, Magnet will serve dinner six nights a week in a renovated former radiator shop on Grand River just northwest of downtown.
Here, Greenhill is cooking only with open flame on a wood grill, or in a wood-burning oven, no gas.
"This restaurant is about simplicity and discovery," said Kafka, adding that he's aiming to expose people to the way simplicity can be "a beautiful restriction." "The limitation isn't the type of food, it's more in the method of which it's cooked."
He said working in Magnet's kitchen is like driving a 1965 Porsche.
"You have to know how to do it and once you learn how to do it it's a lot more fun to driving a Ford Focus," said Kafka, who believes Magnet is the first dinner restaurant to open in this stretch of Detroit in decades.
He said the look of the restaurant mirrors the simplicity of the kitchen model. The 2,100-square-foot space is largely covered in blue tile with walnut wood tables. A 32-foot long bar is sunk in so the guests seated at low chairs are eye-level with the bartenders. Most seats in the house are designed to have a view of the adjacent courtyard.
Ochre Bakery, named by Bon Appetit as one of the 10 best new American restaurants on Tuesday, is just across the way.
At Magnet, chef Greenhill has created a menu that is largely vegan and focused on cooked vegetables. He and his chef de cuisine Mike Conrad will deliver mostly shareable and thoughtfully plated vegetable dishes, flatbreads and some meat entrees like a whole branzino, roasted chicken with a smokey garlic sauce and leg of lamb.
Greenhill says the cuisine, which will change seasonally, is influenced by the Middle East, but also Japan and Detroit.
Vegetarian small plates are $9 each, 3 for $25 or 5 for $40. These include grilled broccoli, smoked carrots and a wild-looking blistered corn dish with chick pea straws, blueberries and a green sauce.
The best way to experience the menu may be to order the "Chef's Selection," where you hand the keys over to the kitchen and let them choose for you. This runs $65 per person.
The bar serves draft cocktails, a house amaro, a small selection of beer, wine and non-alcoholic drinks including iced coffee.
Magnet is a no-tipping restaurant. The pricing includes hospitality. Kafka and Greenhill say they're excited to run a restaurant that can give employees health benefits and some consistency in their paychecks.
Magnet, 4848 Grand River in Detroit, opens Friday. Call (313) 898-7888. Reservations and walk-ins accepted.