Dining Review: Lady of the House
Bright red neon spelling out simply “LADY’' marks the attractive brick-and-cobblestone structure at Bagley and Trumbull where Kate Williams set up shop in 2017 in space that has housed a succession of restaurants since the ‘70s.
This one is different, however. Its strong personality and distinctive menu are a reflection of the talented chef who is, indeed, the lady of the house.
The friendly staff carries out her ambition to present a comfortable, non-commercial setting and an unexpected menu.
Carrot steak anyone? How about lamb ham? And milk and chocolate chip cookies, the first dish that caught my eye after taking a seat at the zinc-topped bar, where two patrons were finishing off their evening with the dessert.
Lady is different and refreshing, from the mismatched flower-patterned china on which food is served to the unpretentious Corktown setting.
The menu, a simple piece of paper, lists the choices in free-form manner, from fresh oysters to potato donuts, leading off with classic steak tartare. The tartare is offered by the ounce, a nice touch that makes an expensive dish more affordable. And for those who don’t want beef, there’s also tomato tartare with challah bread and basil.
On this particular evening, bread and peach butter is one of the listings that eliminates the waste of untouched bread baskets.
Just about every item is designed to be shared. Our table of three happily agreed on shrimp butter, a pate-like spread of emulsified shrimp dusted with paprika and served in a sardine can, to be eaten on toast.
Next came carrot steak, which turned out to be curls of carrot formed into a one firm piece, sparked with a delicious hollandaise sauce and crushed pistachios. Thin shavings of lamb ham had accompaniments of caper horseradish butter and the finishing touch of fermented honey for a lovely flavor combination. Other choices included farm greens grown nearby, duck fettuccine and lamb Bolognese on the very diverse menu.
Cocktail, beer and wine lists are equally creative. The house commissioned neighboring Detroit City Distillery to come up with its own Lady gin, served in martinis, gin and tonic and on its own. Wines, aside from Champagne, are all available by the glass, as well as the bottle and are as carefully chosen as the fare.
And by the way, should you happen to have any of grandmother’s old china plates gathering dust around the house, Lady of the House would love to have them.
Lady of the House
1426 Bagley, Detroit
Hours: Dinner 4:30-9 p.m. Tues.-Sat. (bar later). Brunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.-Sun
Prices: Brunch dishes $6-$22, dinner appetizers and entrees $7-$28 except for dishes serving two or more ($65-$69), desserts $9-$12, except cheese plate serving two or three $20
Credit cards: All major
Noise level: Moderate to high
Wheelchair access: No barriers
Parking: Attached lot
What the ratings mean
★ — routine ★★ — good ★★ 1/2 — very good
★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding