It is now time — drumroll, please — to announce the winners of the 2015 Eater Awards in Detroit. These winners comprise a diverse group of the finest and most interesting chefs, restaurants, and bartenders in the city. They’ve defined this year in dining, and we applaud them.
First, a quick recap: Eater's local editors in 24 cities nominated candidates for five major categories: Restaurant of the Year, Chef of the Year, Bartender of the Year, So Hot Right Now Restaurant, and Stone Cold Stunner. These awards are geared toward places that have opened in about the past year, or people who have become involved in new ventures or otherwise changed the game in that time, which is why many renowned veterans don't appear. Eater readers then voted to narrow the field to a final three in each category. From that final three, the Eater editorial team chose one to move forward. The national winners can be viewed here, but now, without further ado, here's who came out on top in Detroit.
Eater Awards 2015
Restaurant of the Year
Nominees: Republic, Selden Standard, Mabel Gray, Antietam, Gold Cash Gold
Finalists: Mabel Gray, Gold Cash Gold, Republic
Chef of the Year
Nominees: Doug Hewitt Jr. (Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails), Sarah Welch (Republic/Parks & Rec), Josh Stockton (Gold Cash Gold), Andy Hollyday (Selden Standard), Garrett Lipar (Marais)
Finalists: Josh Stockton, Doug Hewitt Jr., Sarah Welch
Winner: Sarah Welch
It can prove challenging to follow in the footsteps of a predecessor whose name is so closely entwined with two restaurants — even more difficult to define your own style as a chef while maintaining continuity between past and present. But Sarah Welch has accomplished just that, moving from sous chef to executive chef last spring. She continues to produce an exceptional nose-to-tail eating experience at Republic and doesn't shy away from introducing personal touches like her family's recipe for pepper bread. In Republic's sister restaurant Parks and Rec, Welch further expressed her point-of-view in the kitchen by delivering a chef-driven menu in a laid-back diner.
Bartender of the Year
Nominees: Rudy Leon (Selden Standard), Dorothy Elizabeth (formerly Republic), Chas Williams (The Oakland), Kaytee Querro (Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails), Evan Dawber (The Keep)
Finalists: Rudy Leon, Dorothy Elizabeth, Chas Williams
Winner: Rudy Leon
As part of Selden Standard's outstanding team, bar manager Rudy Leon helped define the relaxed yet refined ethos that describes the restaurant's appeal. Leon's style airs of the side of simplicity, but incorporates house-made bitters and infusions with newer liqueurs for an elevated cocktail experience.
So Hot Right Now
Nominees: Batch Brewing Company, Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles, Townhouse Detroit, Selden Standard, Jolly Pumpkin
Finalists: Batch Brewing Company, Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles, Selden Standard
Winner: Batch Brewing Company
After two years of teasing Detroiters, Batch Brewing Company debuted its nanobrewery concept last winter in Corktown and people can't seem to get enough. From the rotating selection of beer to chef Matt Johnson's enticing, yet approachable menu, Batch was well worth the wait.
Stone Cold Stunner
Nominees: Townhouse Detroit, Antietam, Republic, La Dulce, Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails
Finalists: Republic, Townhouse Detroit, Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails
Mindfield's renovations of the G.A.R. Castle returned one of downtown's stunning pieces of architecture into a worthy dining destination. Republic's design pays homage to the building's past without being chained to it. Designer Peter Gurski's flair for set design shines through in jewel-toned seating and antique mirror wall, while artist Greg Siff's expressive painting brings the restaurant firmly into the present.
Best New Bakery
Winner: Sister Pie
Eater Young Guns winner Lisa Ludwinski's charming West Village bakery produces divine pies, cookies, and other pastries, that could easily contend with some of the best shops in the country and they do it with style.
Editor: Brenna Houck
Photos by Chris and Michelle Gerard unless otherwise noted