Detroit’s restaurant writers dish on their biggest surprises of 2022 as part of Eater’s ongoing tradition of polling the city’s experts for their year-end takes.
Melody Baetens, restaurant critic/reporter, The Detroit News: One of [my favorite meals this year] was definitely dining in at Michigan & Trumbull. I met up with a friend who has been living overseas, and to see her face when she tasted their perfectly Midwest ranch dressing was priceless. The pizza there just gets better and better, and I learned in 2022 that chef Nate is also fantastic at making cooked carrots taste amazing.
Courtney Burk, contributor, Eater Detroit: Can I say everyone? Truly, every experience was something special, but one that stands out the most for me was the meal we had at Symposia, and the branzino that chef Elliot Patti put together is a dish that is still on my mind.
Serena Maria Daniels, Detroit City Editor, Eater: My favorite meal had to be a goodbye dinner at Freya with my friend and manager (and Eater’s former Detroit City Editor) Brenna Houck. We had both been meaning to check out the tasting menu and so when she was getting ready to move out of Michigan we figured then was as good a time as any to check it out. From the fresh-baked bread and cranberry butter served at the beginning, the incredible oysters, roasted carrots sprinkled with ground pistachios, and hearty pieces of grilled octopus — every detail of the menu was superb. Even more than that, I love that Freya has a music menu that allows guests to pick their dining playlist from the spot’s vast vinyl collection. And with the adjoining bar, Dragonfly, I was able to get a few of the local food writers together for a nightcap.
Lyndsay Green, restaurant and dining critic, Detroit Free Press: I still think about a Top 10 Takeover dinner held at Bellflower in Ypsilanti. There were the most delicious buttery, grilled farm-fresh tomatoes and cucumbers — who knew cooked cucumbers could be so tasty? — served with crispy house-made milk bread, a hearty smoked pork collar ham I savored for two days, and a hunk of bread pudding topped with tears of fresh basil and a soft halved plum with maple syrup pooled in the basin of the core where the pit once lived. Every course was outstanding.
Mark Kurlyandchik, editorial director, Frame: I traveled way more than I probably should have this year, and so most of my best meals came on the road. I can’t narrow it down to just one, but The Southerner in Saugatuck almost brought me to tears (again), a birthday brunch at La Petite Grocery in New Orleans restored my faith in brunch, and being able to share a bunch of pitch-perfect Cantonese dishes at Wo Hop with my eldest during a father-son trip to New York City are the ones I’ll remember years from now. If we’re talking local, then it has to be the specially coursed-out dinner for our small group celebrating a friend’s birthday at Sharaku in West Bloomfield. That was one life-affirming, super traditional Japanese meal.
Mickey Lyons, contributor, Eater Detroit: I went to Voyager in Ferndale for Beaujolais Day on the third Thursday in November, and they did not disappoint. The 2022 Beaujolais Nouveau paired with Maine-raised Belon oysters — a species you almost never see in the Midwest — and their to-die-for tuna crudo with quail egg and shallots had me swooning for days.
Carlos Parisi, founder, host, Aunt Nee’s, Sandwich Talk podcast: The most surprising meal that blew me away was at Hong Hua Fine Chinese Dining. Every bite was a blast of traditional flavors that I didn’t know I needed in my life.
John Reyes, contributor, Eater Detroit: We were fortunate enough to experience the otherworldly tasting menu at Dixboro [Project] right as they parted ways with the executive chef. Hoping they can repeat that magic soon.