It’s been awhile since I’ve checked out a new restaurant and given you the down low on it. But I have recently visited a couple, and Magnet is the first I am going to tell you about.
It’s a new spot in Detroit from the chefs behind Takoi. My experience at Takoi was rather unique and quite outstanding. I still think fondly upon that meal. This left lofty expectations for Magnet that has been doing pop ups and test meals for almost a year.
The outside of the building is pretty nondescript. It’s in a part of town that hasn’t quite hit the level of resurgence others have, and to be honest, we drove past it the first time. Parking is adequate, though the lot needs some work, and a security guard was there once it got dark outside to ensure we made it back to our cars safely.
The inside of Magnet doesn’t match the outside in the slightest, and that’s a pretty good thing. It’s small, smaller than a restaurant I have been to in quite some time. The bar sits in the center, that’s where all two person and some three person reservations are seated, with booths surrounding, mostly for four people. In fact there is only one, long, somewhat awkward table for parties larger than four. That’s where we sat.
The seating was comfortable and the restaurant incredibly bright with tons of windows. We ate early and to see blue sky out a window above me was so welcoming. Too many restaurants these days are so dark, but Magnet has taken a different approach.
Once the sun went down, the main light in the restaurant is a snake of neon red around the bar. This also sets is apart from other restaurants and was quite playful.
Service is another high point. In fact, it was impeccable. None of us could stop talking about how well informed, kind, and attentive everyone was. They truly added to the experience.
The cocktail game is on point too. I had the mezcal cocktail featuring carrot and parsley, the tequila cocktail with tomato and aperol, and the house amaro. Though all very different, they were exceptional in their own ways. I can’t recommend each enough.
The food unfortunately was a bit of a different story. We did take the sharing route since many of these dishes are on the larger side. A lot of times, I don’t like the whole family style thing, but here it worked. That said, if the dishes are meant to be shared and the patrons are into that idea, bigger share plates and utensils for serving each of the dishes would truly enhance the experience.
The meal began with a delightful cheese spread, drizzled with olive oil. The corn salad with blueberries and the broccoli were big hits, as were the slightly smoky carrots with a vibrant herb sauce on top, though the carrots were a bit on the crunchy side. The biggest of the vegetable dishes was also the most disappointing. The cauliflower was beautifully charred, served with edible sparkles on top and with an addictive salsa verde, but it was seriously undercooked. Even with the knife provided, I had trouble cutting it.
The proteins were the biggest disappointment. We tried the cheesesteak, a fun play on the classic with ribeye, cheese sauce and fried potatoes, lamb with pepperonata and yogurt sauce, and the whole red chicken. With this portion of the meal, we also ordered the potatoes. With the exception of the potatoes, all the food ordered this course came out on the chilly side. Certainly not piping hot, barely even room temperature, this changed the entire eating experience. What were probably at least good, if not better dishes, were totally lackluster because they were cold.
We did inform the waitress of this issue, as well as the undercooked vegetables, and one of these cheesesteaks was removed and extra dessert was brought to the table.
Speaking of dessert, the date cake was a hit, but I really think the lemon tart was the star. It may have been the most flavorful thing I ate the whole night with the tart lemon and the floral hibiscus meringue (I usually steer clear of the strong flavor of hibiscus, but this won me over!)
While I definitely think the temperature of the dishes negatively impacted our eating experience, we all finished the meal feeling no one dish really stood out. We didn’t leave craving something we had just eaten or dying to recommend a dish. In the end, then, we were rather disappointed. For a restaurant that has been practicing almost a year, it tastes like they have some work to do.