Back in 2016, the founders behind Grey Ghost proved to Detroiters that bologna can be considered fine dining. Now, after six years, tons of critical acclaim, and the opening of the Second Best Bar, the team from restaurant group Four Man Ladder is paying homage once again to the quintessential lunch meat, this time in bao bun form at Basan Detroit — the group’s izakaya-style restaurant that takes nods from Japanese bar culture, while infusing the group’s playful Midwest sensibilities.
Set on the ground level of the dramatically renovated, Olympia Development-owned Eddystone Apartments just a short skip from Little Caesars Arena at 2703 Park Ave., the highly anticipated restaurant is already booked up through its first 45 days of service, though walk-ins are welcome.
Upon entry into the 4,000-square-foot space (designed by Chicago-based firm Simeone Deary), guests are greeted with an air of elegance with moody lighting; plush, burgundy upholstered booths; wood shelving adorned with ceramic accents; and a lounge area next to the bar. Not your typical arena-adjacent, sticky floors kind of vibe.
That’s not to say that sports or concert-goers won’t feel at home here. The menu is designed for pre-show crowds and tastemakers alike.
Co-founder John Vermiglio told reporters in a media preview Monday, November 14, that the team wanted to design a menu ranging in price from $6 to $60 that diners can build upon depending on the occasion. So if folks are coming in for beers before a Pistons game, they can mix and match from a variety of bite-sized skewers fired on the gas-powered robata grill (such as grilled octopus or Japanese A-1 wagyu served alongside American wagyu steak); gyoza filled with lamb merguez. sweet potato, and coconut; or bao buns filled with delicacies like lobster or that thick-cut, house-made fried bologna that helped put Grey Ghost on the map. For a more substantial experience, there’s a shareable whole-fried snapper that diners can pick apart family-style.
Joining the team is chef Eric Lees, a Minnesota native who previously worked with founders Vermiglio and Joe Giacomino at Quince in Evanston, Illinois, and Matthias Merges’ Yusho and A10 in Chicago’s Hyde Park, as well as leading the kitchen at Michelin-starred Spiaggia in Chicago. Serving as Basan’s director of operations is Michael Gray.
As for the bar menu, Four Man Ladder co-founder and beverage director Will Lee and beverage manager Alex Kirles also subtly delve into Japanese and Asian influences such as withthe tangy Swimming Bird, made with Japanese shochu, elderflower, Thai lime leaf, lemongrass, citrus, and soda.
For a dessert-worthy nightcap, the Ube-B is garnished with a butterfly-shaped sponge cake on a Pocky stick and is made with vodka, port wine, sweetened condensed milk, black sesame oil, lemon, lemon-hawthorn bitters, blueberry cordial, and ube, which gives the drink that violet hue.
The dining room seats 77 and faces an open kitchen. Guests looking to book a special event can do so in the restaurant’s 12-seat private dining space. When weather permits patio seating will be available. One word of advice: Parking may be an issue for some. Parking is available in the arena’s parking structure nearby for as much as $45. Those wanting to avoid the hefty cost can opt for metered parking on surrounding side streets.
Basan Detroit is open 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Reservations are recommended.
Update: November 17th, 2022, 11:22 a.m.: Regarding the parking, Eater heard from Ed Saenz, director of communications at Olympia Development, who says prices for parking at the deck adjoining Basan can vary, starting as low at $8 and can hit $45. Valet parking is also available on Park Avenue at Sproat for $15 when validated by Basan.