Often times when new restaurants open, they receive a great deal of praise and hype. Most of the time when I visit them, I realize very quickly the praise and hype were for nothing. Whether it’s the service, food, or general ambiance that are lackluster, the experience tends to either not be memorable or only be memorable because it was so bad, leaving me never returning.
This was not the case with Joe Muer Seafood. I feared it would be, with positivity being heaped on the restaurant before it was even open based on the owners’ previous eateries. But I, along with my dining guests, my parents and another couple, found the entire experience to be very close to perfect.
The restaurant, located in the Renassiance Center, Downtown Detroit, right along the Detroit River is stunning. Lots of wood, even more glass, and a black and white tile floor make the feel of the restaurant very cool and modern, unlike many in the Detroit area. It feels hip. More like Miami than Detroit; of course this is thanks in large part to the wall of windows showcasing the River outside. We had the opportunity to see numerous barges travel up and down the River, along with a dinner cruise, making for great entertainment while enjoying our meal.
Our waitress, Vanessa, was prompt, knowledgeable, friendly, and best of all promised to keep an eye out for any potential allergens for me, something I always appreciate because it allows me to have a relaxing dinner, not having to worry that everything I am putting in my mouth has potential allergens in it.
It’s a loud restaurant, all of us felt like we were yelling at each other, but that’s to be expected in a restaurant where every seat is taken, and when a table leaves, it is cleaned, reset, and has a new group sitting at it in under five minutes. It was impressive, unlike anything I’ve seen before, and made me fall in love with the noise level because it meant success for a great restaurant.
The drinks, an appletini for Mom and The Elderflower for me, were good, but it was clearly the food that was the star. A bread basket with sourdough, pumpernickel, and crackers arrived at our table just after ordering, along with smoked bluefish pate and white bean relish. The breads were excellent, I favored the pumpernickel, but the crackers were the best. I love when restaurants have those crackers that taste better than any cracker from the grocery store, though not many do anymore. The pate and relish were amazing as well.
One of our guests had the lobster bisque, which she enjoyed. Then came the entrees. Three people ordered the surf and turf special, an Austrailian lobster tail with a filet mignon. All three diners really enjoyed it, noting the tenderness of both the steak and lobster. Mom’s filet, ordered medium, was served almost well done. She still liked it, but that was the only real disappointment the entire meal. The same guest that had the bisque had the restaurant’s surf and turf that always appears on the menu: sea scallops with braised short ribs. It lived up to her high expectations, always having wanted to try short ribs. I had the Florida Red Grouper. It was fantastic, one of the best fish I’ve ever had, cooked to perfection. I had the mango sweet chili glaze served on the side as I was unsure if I would like it, but it was one of the highlights of the meal with a wonderful spicy sweet flavor.
Sides are a must. Dad and our guests had the black truffle macaroni and cheese. It looked very good, and our guests liked it, but Dad wasn’t a huge fan of the truffle flavor. None of us really like the flavor of truffle oil, though I have had fresh truffles once and loved them. The roasted mushrooms were excellent, but my French fry obsession had to be quelled. Much like Morton’s they come with both parmesan and truffle oil, so we ordered two sets of plain fries. They were a tremendous hit with everyone at the table. Shoestring style, they were fried to absolute perfection. Not a bit greasy with incredible flavor and texture. Dare I say they just might be my new favorite fries? I can’t stop thinking about them and the next time I’m going to get more.
Rest assured I ordered dessert. I’d heard many good things about their coconut cake, which I was assured was allergen free for me. It lived up to my incredibly high expectations. Light chiffon cake (my favorite) with dense filling and frosting and tons of coconut pressed on the outside, each bite was a delectable experience. We also had the key lime pie, which may be the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve had many, as it is one of my favorite restaurant desserts. The whipped cream was so smooth and creamy, with some lime zest grated on top; the custard underneath rich and dense, with a tart but not remotely bitter flavor, something very hard to achieve; the graham cracker crust bringing the whole thing together, with that sandy graham cracker texture and a hint of sweetness, held together perfectly with what I’m sure was a great deal of butter. Little lime candies adorned the top of the pie, and you know how I love my candy. The sauces on both of the desserts were equally fantastic, almost my favorite part. I’m not sure, but I suspect they might have been mango and key lime. I’d love to know how to make those. Perhaps my favorite part about the desserts was the generous portion size. No skimpy restaurant portions here, both were huge slices that even satisfied my sweet tooth. Chocolate desserts ordered by Dad and our guests teased me; they enjoyed them as well.
I can’t wait for my next visit to Joe Muer Seafood. I loved pretty much every moment of my experience. I hope they continue to impress when it comes time for my next visit.
By the way, here’s a photo of my parents and me. I wanted to introduce you to them!