I am always on the hunt for new and exciting restaurants and The Apparatus Room was on my radar well before it even opened.
Helmed by Thomas Lents, a Michelin star chef from Chicago (though originally from Michigan), it is in the old Detroit fire house, and I visited just last weekend, only a few months after the restaurant and the Foundation Hotel, in which it is located, opened.
To say the restaurant is beautiful is an understatement. The wide open space, centrally located bar, luxurious seating, large windows, and exposed light bulbs are only a few of the touches that add to a welcoming, yet sophisticated environment.
We were greeted promptly by our waitress Melanie, who is one of the best servers I have encountered in a long time. We ordered drinks, wine for Linda and me, beer for Dad, a vodka tonic for Dick, and a delightful tequila, strawberry, and rhubarb cocktail for Mom called The Waterman.
While we waited for our drinks and dinner, Mom and I went up to the open kitchen to say hi to Chef Lents. He was one of the chefs at the most recent Hour dinner we attended that wasn’t our favorite due to some pink chicken. We contacted Lents after that dinner and he was very kind and reassured us the chicken was safe though pink.
Mom and I reminded him of this, and he remembered us. He was very kind and we told him how excited we were to dine in his new restaurant.
The appetizers came out quickly. Pine roasted carrots (I’m always obsessed with carrots), a bright English pea soup with a delicate onion foam on top, pork pasta, bread with whitefish spread and charred scallion butter, and the star of my night, a grilled langoustine. I have had and enjoyed langoustine before, but the flavor the grill imparted was so welcome without overwhelming the fish. I may or may not have ordered a second serving.
As we waited for our entrees (though we did not have to wait long; the pacing is some of the very best I have ever experienced), Lents sent out some of his coney style pasta, an homage to Detroit’s famous coney dogs. This was so incredibly kind of him, and though coneys aren’t usually my thing, we all loved the pasta and devoured the two large portions he sent us.
Then the entrees arrived. Yes, there was Dad’s perfectly cooked strip steak, Dick’s juicy pork chop, and Linda’s beautiful and succulent halibut, but the real star here is the pork shoulder Mom and I shared. You guys, this is one of the best things I have ever eaten. The crispy skin, the succulent meat, the spicy-acidic house made giardiniera. OMG. The shoulder was huge. We took the rest home and got two more meals out of it.
The crispy potatoes were also a hit, but when Lents sent out two tiny Dutch ovens of the creamiest, richest mashed potatoes ever with shaved black truffles on top, our lives may have just been changed forever. Lents really spoiled us. Rest assured all future visits to The Apparatus Room will include those potatoes.
I also have to mention the crispy kalettes which were just the right amount of oily. I devoured the entire bowl on my own.
We all took a bite of the cherry brown butter cake dessert with crisp rye berries, brandied cherries, vanilla cream, and cherry sorbet. It was the perfect not too sweet ending to dinner. I didn’t think I would like the rye berries, but they were a delightful addition.
We took a quick tour of the new Chef’s Table above the restaurant before we left. How fun would it be to have dinner up there?
Because we did not want this beautiful summer night to end, we headed to Sugar House for another cocktail. We had never been to Sugar House and loved the relaxed vibe. We all ordered off the Corktown Carnival seasonal menu. Dad’s bourbon based House of Horrors and Dick’s rum based World’s Strongest Man were incredibly strong, but they enjoyed them.
Mom’s Cotton Candy Machine was not sweet at all like the name might suggest, but instead strong and almost medicinal. Linda and I enjoyed our drinks the most by far. Her rum based, anise flavored cocktail whose name is escaping me was balanced and different. And my Tunnel of Love had a great spice that burned just right in the back of my throat and is one of my favorite drinks I’ve ever had.
It was a really fabulous night and we almost capped it off with a stop at Shake Shack but because the Tigers game had just let out, the line was crazy. I’m making the most of summer and hope you are too! If you are in the area, be sure to check out The Apparatus Room. Maybe I’ll see you there.