Red Dunn Kitchen pushes beyond the routine

Molly Abraham
The Detroit News

First impressions: Ambitious is the word for Red Dunn Kitchen, the new restaurant in the Trumbull & Porter Detroit Hotel, and the word also applies to the hostelry itself. Both seem determined to do much more than a routine job.

Because the restaurant is in a hotel, Executive Chef Jay Gundy and staff have the task of providing not just dinner, but breakfast and lunch, as well. It’s at dinner, of course, where Gundy is showcasing the talent he has honed in a number of local spots. If you’ve been dining around town over the last few years, it’s likely you’ve sampled his style at such spots as The Whitney, Forte, Townhouse Birmingham, Café Via and most recently at Cork Wine Pub in Pleasant Ridge.

The à la carte menu at dinner, of course, is more ambitious than the more approachable menus earlier in the day, and it’s definitely on the high end, if not for downtown, certainly for Corktown, both in scope and price structure, with entrees that reach $32, and selections that will have some consulting “Food Lover’s Companion” for guidance. Just what is strei cod, anyway? A fail-safe item, however, is the $15 burger made with chuck and skirt steak, and it includes rosemary and Parmesan fries or salad.

Our party of four last week had a chance to sample several dishes at dinner, from appetizers of foie gras stuffed quail ($16) and smoked and marinated salmon collars ($16) to entrees of braised lamb leg atop barley and couscous ($29) and the above mentioned skrei cod ($32), which turns out to be young Norwegian cod, here teamed with gnocchi, mussels and fava beans. Hits of the evening were the salmon collars — the flesh from the area next to the head that belies salmon’s reputation as dry — and the lamb, cooked just to the point of medium rare and fork tender.

Our table was in the bar area, one of just four spacious brown leather banquettes with white marble tables adjacent to the bar itself, a cozier setting than the larger dining room in the back. The dining room has the advantage of overlooking the kitchen, through big paned windows, and the grassy courtyard patio though a window wall. The uncovered tables in the contemporary blue-and-gray room are lit by hanging lamps and spotlights. Because the ceilings and floors are concrete, it can get noisy.

The front of the house is run by Dustin Walker, the chef’s longtime colleague. He also deals with the cocktail and wine lists.

About that name: the vintage painting of a sassy rooster — Red Dunn — inspired it. And a reproduction of the painting is one of several paintings adorning the wall in the bar.

Red Dunn Kitchen

Trumbull & Porter Detroit Hotel

1331 Trumbull, Detroit

Call: (313) 887-9477


Rating: ★★ 1/2 — very good

Hours: Breakfast 6-11 a.m., lunch noon-4 p.m., dinner 5-10 week nights, 11 p.m. Fri., Sat.

Prices: Breakfast dishes $10-$19, sides $5-$7; lunch appetizers $4-$15, salads $9-$14, sandwiches $10-$16, dinner appetizers $5-$30 (the latter for a dozen oysters), salads $9-$14, entrees $16-$32, desserts $5-$13.

Credit cards: All major

Liquor: Full bar and interesting wine list

Noise level: Moderate to high

Parking: Large attached lot

Wheelchair access: No barriers

What the ratings mean

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

★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding