By Sylvia Rector, Detroit Free Press Restaurant Critic 4:18 p.m. EDT August 7, 2015
Attorney Dennis Archer Jr. and partners wanted to create a place that was stylish, approachable and affordable enough to appeal to a wide audience.
(Photo: Sylvia Rector, Detroit Free Press)
Central Kitchen + Bar opens its doors in the First National Bank building in downtown Detroit at 11 a.m. Monday, bringing a stylish American gastropub menu and a cool, casual setting to yet another pocket of downtown.
Central Kitchen + Bar opens Monday, across the streetBuy Photo
Central Kitchen + Bar opens Monday, across the street from Cadillac Square in downtown Detroit. (Photo: Sylvia Rector, Detroit Free Press)
Attorney Dennis Archer Jr. poses in the dining roomBuy Photo
Attorney Dennis Archer Jr. poses in the dining room of Central Kitchen + Bar with executive chef Christina Stanco during the restaurant’s friends-and-family pre-opening event. Archer, developer Christopher Brochert and manager partner Ken Karam are the owners. (Photo: Sylvia Rector, Detroit Free Press)
Owned by attorney Dennis Archer Jr., developer Christopher Brochert and restaurant industry veteran Ken Karam, Central is designed to be an all-occasion venue that will appeal to a wide range of guests.
Executive chef Christina Stanco’s menus are at once stylish and approachable, ranging from classic burgers and sandwiches to updated salads such as baby kale with roasted red pepper, farro, gruyere and prosciutto, and entrees such as buttermilk-fried quail with creamed corn gratin and lavender honey.
Prices are mid-range for a restaurant with a chef-driven menu in a prime downtown location; the First National Bank is at 660 Woodward and is owned and managed by Bedrock Real Estate Services.
Set directly across the street from Cadillac Square at Campus Martius, Central Kitchen features a sidewalk patio with space for 24 bordered by long, cushy sofas at each end.
Inside the restaurant, an 18-seat walnut-topped bar serves as the heart of the dining room, surrounded by softly upholstered booths and attractive furniture.
Hanging over the bar is the room’s most dramatic feature: a distinctive fixture made of hundreds of small, rectangular, antique-glass reflectors suspended from a series of iron frames. Ron & Roman architects of Birmingham designed the restaurant, including the fixture, which is made of bubbled glass pieces from the 1920s, Karam says.
Another feature guests can’t miss is the wall-size black-and-white photo of the surrounding streets in the 1800s, when Cadillac Square was called Central Market and merchants came to sell everything from furs to food, Karam said.
Central Market was the inspiration for the Central Kitchen + Bar name. “We just kept coming back to ‘Central,'” Karam said.
The name also works because a small plaque nearby in Campus Martius marks the precise spot from which distances to and from Detroit are measured; 6 Mile Road is 6 miles from the plaque. “So we really are ‘central,'” he added.
Karam said the architects gave them exactly what they were looking for: “It’s what we were hoping it would be, bringing in the age of the building, bringing in the character of the building, keeping in line with what Bedrock did in the (First National) lobby,” he said. “It’s going to add some spark to the area,” he added.
Central will have lunch, dinner and late-night menus.
“I think we’ll be known for our burger,” he said. But he’s also high on the shrimp + grits (Cajun shrimp with white cheddar grits, sweet and Hungarian peppers and scallions), the lamb loin chops with goat cheese fingerling potatoes, pepita pesto and sherry gastrique; and the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich with Gruyere, pickles, ranch, bacon and tomato on a brioche bun.
Stanco, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Denver, was executive chef at Luxe in Birmingham for three years until leaving to join the Roberts Restaurant Group at Café ML in Bloomfield Township. Her menu reflects both restaurants, incorporating Luxe’s upscale bar-food approach and Café ML’s more modern, innovative style.
The restaurant opens at 11 a.m. Sunday through Friday and at 4 on Saturday and closes at 6 p.m. Sunday, 11 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, offering lunch, dinner and late-night menus. The kitchen shuts down one hour before closing, Karam said. Happy hours are 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. (660 Woodward; 313-963-9000 and www.centraldetroit.com)
Detroit Free Press, August 7, 2015