Jefferson House – Detroit Restaurant Week Review
The Jefferson House is in the Crowne Plaza Pontchartrain Hotel, formerly the Hotel Pontchartrain. Built in 1965, it takes its name from a much grander and older building, after a contest was held for the naming rights.
The Jefferson House is on the first floor, just off the street entrance and before the hotel’s check in desk. Below you can see some of the lobby. In the first picture, off to the left past the railings is the front desk. In the second you can see the doors to the street, and to the left of that is the restaurant entrance.
First course: The Detroit Roll and Crab Japanese Pancake (Okonomiyaki)
The roll we both thought lacked flavor. The pancake was excellent. At first bite, my brain couldn’t resolve munching on what looked like a potato pancake but tasted like a mild kimchee. By the third bite though, all the flavors had settled and mingled and I happily ate the entire thing.
Entree: Berkshire Farm Pork Tenderloin and French Chicken
Chris had first opted for the pork, until I pointed out the chocolate mushroom sauce. (There was a molé incident that still haunts him…)
So I chose the pork and asked for the sauce on the side. I did make sure to take the first bite with the sauce on it, to have the full experience as the chef intended. The chef however can keep his intentions to himself.
The sauce tasted nothing of mushroom and everything of melted milk chocolate. :p No thanks. The pork and everything else with it was excellent however. Perfectly cooked, with a creamy goat cheese that complimented it well. The pesto did not taste like basil, so it was a proper balanced blend of herbs. I found myself dragging the pork through the cheese and pesto to get it all. The potato shreds were ok, but did not have any wow factor.
Chris got the French Chicken and was equally pleased. He wasn’t sure what to think of the maple syrup on potato as it was described, but did not ask for anything changed.
It was quite good. The syrup was very lightly applied and was a great touch of sweet to the savory chicken and starchy potato pancake. It was a boneless breast, but the leg bone had been placed for presentation as though you’d gotten a quarter chicken. Chris hates eating around bones so he was fine with it being just decoration.
Both of these dishes we would order again.
Dessert: I ordered the Chocolate Mousse and Chris the Apple Crisp. Sadly, what I was looking forward to (Mason Jar – Lime Napoleon) had disappeared from the menu.
When mine arrived, I was in for another disappointment. The menu said mine was a chocolate mousse with cocoa nibs and strawberries. They neglected to mention the giant portobello mushroom cap sized macaroon smashed on top, nor the Kahlúa mixed in. :(
So after letting Chris have a nibble to see if he’d enjoy it, back it went. I opted for the Chambord Crème Brûlée instead. It was decent. It’s such a simple dessert that I feel that most chefs don’t put in the effort to make it outstanding.
The apple crisp was another oddity – though at least tasted good. The side had a schmear of some kind of tapioca pudding (we think) and a drizzle of caramel. The crisp itself consisted of apple filling topped with a sort of crumble, and then stabbed with a triangle of fried wonton. The eyedropper thing was filled with caramel you could add to the top of the dish.
The odd bit came when he got to the apple – because it had pineapple mixed into it… We concluded some sous chef back there couldn’t find the limes, ran low on apples, and stumbled upon a pile of macaroons and just decided to roll with it. :rotfl:
Slightly off-putting was the fact the restaurant doesn’t have its own dedicated bathrooms, but rather you have to leave to use the hotel’s facilities across the lobby. When I headed over to use them myself, I got a cheery “Thanks for coming! Have a good evening.”, which has to be awkward for all when the customer returns.
Additionally, the furniture is worn out (one chair looked like a cat had used it for a scratching post) and the servers were less than polished for the “high-end” atmosphere portrayed. Chris got his foot kicked by the waiter at one point, and instead of a quick “I’m sorry!” he said “Oh, my bad!”.
All done we’d probably visit again. The prices are reasonable on their regular menu for the higher end fare being served.