Restaurant Review: Zalman's Deli is bright and easy for anytime brunch or a quick nosh
Inside the DoubleTree in Bloomfield Hills, the new deli specializes in breakfast, lunch and house-made desserts
A toasted everything bagel was barely visible under a restrained amount of creamy schmear, a plump and generous portion of house-smoked lox, tomato, very thinly sliced red onion, cucumber and capers, all served atop a small, lapis blue Fiestaware bread tray.
As the restless capers danced around the plate, each crunchy, salty, smoky bite made me lament that I did not grow up with bagels like this. Luckily, there is Zalman's Delicatessen.
Besides a loaded bagel, the 14-month-old Bloomfield Hills deli has a few other things I'm a huge fan of: a vintage aesthetic and all-day brunch.
The black, white, gold and sky blue color scheme, along with the warm glow from many globe lights and brightly lit glass cases hosting a spectacle of colorful, house-made desserts, gives Zalman's a soda shop or ice cream parlor vibe, but a bit more elegant. I mean, there's a fireplace.
Maybe you work weekends and never get to enjoy a table full of mimosas, avocado toast, pancakes and omelets. If Monday is your Sunday, Zalman's has you covered with an always-available breakfast menu, including create-your-own mimosas with choice of juice and bubbly.
If you do brunch on the weekends, they serve carafes full of mimosas and belinis on Saturdays and Sundays ($30-$35, $20-$25 for refills). Another interesting cocktail includes the Breakfast at Tiffany's, which is kind of an amped-up mimosa with Tito's Vodka, Cava, St. Germain elder flower liqueur and grapefruit juice.
These drinks — which in my experience have been on the strong side, good morning — are served from the Duke cocktail lounge. Both, along with Joe Muer Seafood, are part of the amenities at the recently renovated DoubleTree by Hilton hotel.
In addition to the bagels, another dish that will have me returning to Zalman's is the pale-yellow egg salad with flecks of dill. It usually isn't thought of when it comes to brunch, but what food better blends breakfast and lunch? Put some on a rye bagel chip for the perfect crispy and creamy bite.
This and other deli scoops — tuna, chicken or whitefish salad — are served with sliced tomatoes and cucumber, some shredded romaine, matzo crackers and bagel chips.
Most of the sandwiches are huge and packed with house-smoked meats. Get the salty, thin-sliced corned beef with creamy slaw and the house-made, tangy Zalman's mustard, which is also sold in bottles at the deli. It's a big sandwich, but not so big you have to pull meat off or unhinge your jaw to get a bite in.
One sandwich highlighted on the menu, the Mallory, was a good vegetarian option in theory with three types of cheese, tomato and smashed avocado on grilled multi-grain. While it was sent out of the kitchen so under-grilled the cheese wasn't melted, it was still enjoyable dipped into the small cup of smoky tomato soup served on the side.
The roasted tomato soup is available on its own, too, and is served with a cheese pierogi. If you're going to get soup here, though, get the roasted chicken with a matzo ball. It's somewhat expensive for soup at $13, but it's a meal. Executive chef Steven Alves makes it with a softball-sized matzo and large shreds of juicy, slow-roasted chicken floating in a buttery broth.
Most of the menu is made in-house, including the soups and all the salad dressings.
Save room for sweets, which include huge slices of confetti or bumpy cake, mini carrot or cheese cakes, brownies, cupcakes, cookies and trifles. Not only are the pastries house-made, but they also take custom orders, for those dining in Zalman's for special occasions or doing other things about the hotel, which has meeting rooms, ballrooms and a stunning lobby that I'm told is home to more than $1 million worth of artwork (and a very modish red piano).
As Zalman's rounds into its second year, the managers of the hotel and deli — besides chef Alves, the team includes General Manager Tom Lamb and director of food and beverage Bethany Shields — are striving to provide a balance between being a hotel diner for travelers and a neighborhood restaurant.
This spring, they have plans to expand on Zalman's 90-something-seat indoor dining room with an additional outdoor space in the hotel's courtyard, tucked away from the buzz of Woodward Avenue.
Carafes of bellinis and crispy, loaded bagels in the sun sounds like a good reason as any to look forward to patio season.
39475 Woodward, Bloomfield Hills
(248) 940-2428 or zalmans.com
Rating: ★★ (very good)
Hours: 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
Prices: breakfast, $7-$15; appetizers, $6-$12; soups and salads, $8-$19; sandwiches, $11-$16; entrees, $15-$27.
Noise level: Mostly quiet, but can get louder during weekend brunch and other peak times
Accessibility: No barriers from either front or back entrance.
Parking: Free parking in front and back of hotel
Other: Zalman's has a catering service and offers delivery via GrubHub. A buy-one, get-one coupon is available on the website that is good through Sunday.
What the stars mean:
★ — good
★★ — very good
★★★ — excellent
★★★★ — extraordinary