When one thinks of the Ford-Peabody mansion it doesn’t exactly scream Japanese-style restaurant. But the stately Victorian with its curved bay windows is now home to just that. Adachi, a restaurant by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schlow and local developers Kenny Koza and Clint Mansour, opened on Friday inside the historic building at 325 S. Old Woodward Ave.
This is the first restaurant for Schlow in Michigan. The chef and restaurateur is well-known for his projects in Washington D.C. and Boston and also has spots in Virginia and Los Angeles. Schlow says that his main experience in Michigan was hosting a dinner many years ago at Tribute, but connected with Mansour and Koza through a mutual friend in D.C. Two years ago, he paid a visit to Birmingham. “I just fell in love with the area,” Schlow says.
In taking on the Ford-Peabody project, Schlow and his partners had to maintain the historic aspects of the building while also transforming the space into something that suited the Asian style of the restaurant. The exterior paint colors and stairs, for instance, were off-limits. However, inside Schlow says the building was “completely taken down to the studs,” including the removal of a staircase that jutted through what’s now the center of the dining room.
Adachi gets its names from the Adachi Museum of Art in Japan, though Schlow notes that Koza has a close connection with a family from Japan that also shares the surname. The new interior for the restaurant, designed by Molly Allen, takes cues from the original architecture while also adding some touches that tie-into the menu. The dining room and bar area seats around 65 customers and features a mixture of curved booths, bar seats, and tables upholstered in a vibrant blue. Carved wooden doors add some Japanese touches to the entrances while images of pink cherry blossom trees decorate the ceilings. The team brought in an artist to create a mural of a geisha in a rural scene as a backdrop to Adachi’s sushi bar. Eventually, the restaurant will open a 40-seat patio during mild weather.
Schlow developed the menu together with executive chef and Nobu alum Lloyd Roberts. It features a variety of sushi rolls and sashimi as well as small plates such as seared mushrooms with truffle salt and lime, kobe beef sliders, and Hawaiian-style tuna poke. Many of the items are vegan and vegetarian. “The goal with the restaurant is to be part of the neighborhood” with lots of small items that people can eat while enjoying an after work drink, Schlow says. “We’re not looking to be a special occasion restaurant.” Eventually the restaurant plans to add lunch and also introduce omakase sushi options at several prices.
Photographers Michelle and Chris Gerard visited Adachi ahead of the opening. Take a tour of Birmingham’s new restaurant and some of the food in the gallery below.
The Dining Room and Bar
Adachi is located at 325 S. Old Woodward Ave. in Birmingham; open The restaurant is open 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; website.
• James Beard Award Winner’s Japanese Restaurant Opens This Week in Birmingham [ED]
• James Beard Award-Winner Plots Birmingham Restaurant [ED]
• All Adachi Coverage [ED]
• All Openings Coverage [ED]
• All Eater Inside Coverage [ED]