During Detroit Restaurant Week I visited La Dolce Vita with my mom. I also ended up going out to the Whitney for a surprise fancy dinner with my husband. The Whitney has a long history starting as a private residence for a lumber baron in 1890. In 1986 after several ownership changes and different uses of the building over the years, it became a restaurant. In 2007 it received an extensive restoration to what it is today.
I’m not a fan of valet and the lot is fairly small so we chose to park in the large garage next door. I was a bit dismayed by the large banners hanging from the building. It really takes away from the entire draw of the place, which is the amazing stone work and design.
The interior is filled with wood details. Older lavish homes like this are a favorite of mine, so just walking in I was happy to look around. We were seated in the side room that was once David Whitney’s personal study, and normally serves the Chef’s Table menu. It overlooked the polo matches held by the Detroit Athletic Club next door. Evenings they have live musical accompaniment which tonight was a piano player, though it was not loud enough to enjoy from our location.
We had what is called a prix fie menu – where you have a small selection of options for a three course meal. It’s an excellent time to try a place you might not otherwise, though the options are not always on their regular menu, it gives you a taste of the type of food offered. In our case, the Whitney is a high-end restaurant and we might not have splurged on a meal here without a sort of taste test first.
The chef sent us an amuse bouche. Salmon mousse in a phyllo cup with a blueberry on top. Blueberries are the fruit equivalent to peas for me (which is to say I avoid them like the plague and will eat around them at best – no, seriously, ask my husband how I eat chicken pot pie) but I trusted the chef and gave it a try. I was pleasantly surprised that the tastes balanced each other and it was quite good.
Confit of Duck Taco
This was pronounced excellent by Chris. Though duck isn’t a terribly strong flavor from the times I’ve had it, this had just the right spices to bring it out.
Vanilla-scented Seared Diver Scallop
Perfectly cooked and mildly seasoned the scallop really shined. The grapefruit was a bit sharp/tart I thought, but the microgreens salad was tasty.
This was amazing. The stuffing was really really good. I don’t think this is on their standard menu as is, however they do have the traditional beef version and I’m really wanting to come back and try that.
Braised Veal Cheeks
Chris said this was a little too tender, it had almost no texture when he chewed, but the flavor was good and he’d likely try cheek again somewhere.
Pot de Crème
The spoon was just dunked in chocolate and then put in the fridge to cool/harden, which made it awkward to eat the pot de creme, as the chocolate really didn’t come off as you ate. It also had a drizzle of white chocolate which I am not fond of. :/ The caramel was alright, but kind of uninspired in flavor.
Strawberry Rhubarb Tart
This was VERY tart! It was an interesting dish, my first time I think having rhubarb. We ended up mostly trading desserts as I liked this better.
So I can say without a doubt we will be back. For those looking to ease the burden on your pocketbook they do serve brunch and lunch menus now. It will still be a special occasion outing reserved for anniversaries and the like, but both of us were endeared to the atmosphere as well as the food.