In December the Shinola Hotel and its premier restaurant San Morello opened. I immediately made reservations there to celebrate my birthday with hopes Evening Bar would also be open. I already showed you the fashion side of the evening and now it’s time to talk food and drink.
The weather and our biggest snow storm of the season to date (let’s keep it that way please) threatened to cancel plans, but we forged ahead and were thrilled we did. Had it been a weeknight, plans definitely would have changed, but the light traffic volumes of the weekend allowed us a safe and not too lengthy commute.
The Shinola Hotel is stunning. First, we walked past the lobby bar where I could hang out pretty much all. The. Time. It’s cozy and sophisticated and I forgot I was in Detroit the moment I saw it. Forgot it was a blizzard outside. I felt right at home. The hospitality offered by all the workers enhanced this.
We made our way through hallways to San Morello. Just starting to fill up in the restaurant, the bar was already hopping. We had a nice table in the corner that allowed us to talk comfortably without struggling to hear each other until the very tail end when every table was full and chatter and laughter boomed through the restaurant.
Our waitress greeted us promptly and kept the evening moving. The cocktail list is small but varied nicely. They offer unique spirits and mixed drinks that our table all really enjoyed. I had the Fellini Reference, a tequila based drink with a beautiful sunset hue and balanced bitterness that became totally craveable the more I drank it.
We began dinner with the sheep’s milk ricotta. Topped with spicy honey, it was creamy and that subtle spice was a much needed addition. Served with bread and crudité, I would call this the perfect appetizer.
Then came the fire roasted cabbage and roasted beets. The former had anchovies and breadcrumbs for a Caesar salad vibe presented in a totally new way. The later featured perfectly cooked and chilled beets with creamy cheese and candied walnuts that should be served by the bowl.
Though it was tempting to fill up on appetizers, the entrees were just as exciting. The OG pizza packed a punch of spice on a blistered crust. It’s the classic pepperoni pizza taken to an entirely different level. Delivery will never be the same. They offer a slightly different take on lasagna with a white sauce, veal ragu, spinach pasta, and lots of parmesan. Though nice to have a twist on such a classic Italian dish, it was rather dry and not one of the favorite dishes of the night.
The brook trout picatta is beautifully presented with that silvery skin up, though it wasn’t very crispy and therefore not super edible. It revealed a stunning orange flesh that was perfectly cooked and paired well with the creamy and briny sauce.
Finally there was the bistecca alla Fiorentina, basically a giant tomahawk steak with crispy potatoes. The meat was pretty severely undercooked, which didn’t bother me a whole lot, though it did the rest of the table. In addition for an aged and expensive cut of beef, I would have expected it to be more tender and perhaps even more flavorful. The waitress mentioned it would come with roasted garlic and online I had seen photos with grilled leeks or scallions. Those were absent and a vegetable of some kind would be welcome.
The meat was far outshined by the crispy potatoes, a seemingly simple side we all agreed were the best potatoes we have ever had in our lives.
For me, dessert was the biggest miss. While the pistachio cake was a hit, pear seemed an odd choice for the sorbet with its gritty texture and the olive oil ice cream had a rather off putting flavor.
That said, it was in general an excellent experience and I would happily return.
I am also looking forward to my next visit to Evening Bar just down the hall. Dimly lit, it’s a sophisticated bar perfect for hanging out or entertaining guests. The cocktail menu is interesting and extensive, although given that this is separate from San Morello and has a different feel and inspiration, it was slight disappointing that a few of the cocktails overlapped.
If the perfectly cooked crispy on the outside, tender on the inside French fries are any indication, I seriously need to investigate the food at Evening Bar more thoroughly. The cocktails were pretty exciting too. More unique spirits were ordered. For me, though, it was Death in the Afternoon, a simple mix of absinthe and champagne that totally ended the night on the right note.
It’s really amazing to see how Detroit has evolved and become the go to hang out in the area. If the Shinola Hotel is any indication, things are only going to get more exciting.