In a travel column out today, The New York Time's highlights Hazel Park's recent high-end recruit Mabel Gray. As usual, the Grey Lady can't seem to get NYC out of its mind suggesting that the restaurant's seasonal menu and whole-animal butchery program make it "appears to have been airlifted from Brooklyn," but acknowledges that the eatery "is thoroughly of, by and for Michigan." Rebecca Flint Marx writes:
Visit Mabel Gray, named for the local folklore legend Alice Mabel Gray who lived in solitude on the shores of Lake Michigan and earned the nickname Diana of the Dunes, and you'll be served a healthy helping of local pride. This is a place where Faygo, a Detroit-made soda pop, is on the menu, and where affable waiters will inform you that Michigan grows sugar beets 50 out of 52 weeks of the year. But Mr. Rigato lets his cooking deliver the most compelling lessons about his home state's culinary riches.
The influence of metro Detroit's Korean population is apparent in the kimchi vinaigrette that heats up a plate of Michigan honeycrisp apples, celery and yogurt, while the black and white garlic sauces drizzled on an order of hopelessly addictive crispy fried potatoes were a nod to the area's Korean and Middle Eastern communities, respectively.
The glowing dining recommendation is yet another feather in Mabel Gray's cap. The restaurant run by chef James Rigato has received quite a bit of national and local attention since opening last September. The restaurant took second place on The Detroit Free Press's Top 10 Best New Restaurants list this month and was named a semifinalist for the James Beard Awards Best New Restaurant of the Year. Critic Molly Abraham gave the eatery four stars, while Jane Slaughter of Metro Times remarked that there were no "one-note" dishes at Mabel Gray.