Always Versatile Apples

By: Karen Dybis | November 1, 2019
Apple Dishes

Photo Courtesy of Smith & Co.

Apples are a gift in the kitchen: They are crunchy raw, soft and malleable when baked, a great substitute in the form of sauce or butter for oils. Truly, an apple is an ingredient the home chef or the professional should respect and adore.

Metro Detroit chefs definitely fall into that category, putting apples in all kinds of dishes, both savory and sweet. Innovation with apples makes sense given Michigan’s huge crops of the wonderful fruit and the number of varieties that are harvested here every fall. Whether you go gaga for the Gala or are hot-blooded for Honeycrisp, there is an apple for every kind of dish. 

According to the Michigan Agriculture Council in Lansing, the Mitten state ranks third in the nation in apple production. And it is no small potatoes: There are more than 9.2 million apple trees in commercial production, covering 36,500 acres on 850 family-run farms throughout Michigan’s lower peninsula. Moreover, Michigan slices more apples than any other state for use in pies and fresh cut slices and also processes apples into applesauce, fresh and shelf-stable apple cider and apple juice.

Here are some apple-infused dishes found in restaurants around Metro Detroit that are available for your sampling.

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When you pull up to this Detroit restaurant, you’ll notice its mantra is: “Gather and Eat.” Its menu is creative as well as crazy, pulling together flavors and combinations that seem outlandish but then end up becoming a favorite. Apples feature prominently on the menu, especially in the summer and fall. Recommended dishes include the Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal, which features roasted apples and apple crisps, as well as the Apple Cheddar Melt, which has Courtland apples and a maple-mustard aioli along wide roasted chicken and smoked cheddar.

Red Dunn 

The menu here focuses on poultry and seasonal delights, so that means apples are a respected part of many dishes. Check out the dessert menu, which has a Warm Almond Cake on it featuring two kinds of apple influences. The first is maple caramel apples, which is as delicious as the name implies. The other is applewood smoked bacon, giving this fatty and salty meat a refreshing tartness to its fantastic flavor. 

Chartreuse Kitchen and Cocktails 

This Midtown mainstay has a huge reputation for good eats, and one visit will let you know why. There are so many fresh approaches to food on the menu and many of them honor the fruits of the harvest. One fall favorite is the Delicata Squash, which is a combination of smoked potato, Jonathan apples, molasses ham, and maple and seed cracker. It is crunchy, sweet and salty all at the same time. The dessert menu also has the Raspberry Apple, which includes raspberry curd, spiced apples, almond streusel, and almond foam. Amazing. 

Smith & Co.

This Detroit newcomer also offers seasonal flavors throughout its innovative menu, taking what is grown in Detroit or around Southeast Michigan and turning it into wonderfully creative dishes. The Roasted Carrots are a highlight on the vegetarian and regular menus. It features beautiful carrots mixed with Michigan feta, pistachios, honey harissa, yogurt raita and an apple cider gastrique to finish it all off. You’ll be licking your fork by the end. 

Grey Ghost 

You’ve got to love a restaurant that is known for its carnivorous ways that also labels a part of its menu “Not Meat.” But Grey Ghost likes to play with food, and everyone benefits from this kind of frivolity. If you want something without a traditional protein and you want it to look and taste great as well, check out the Skate Wing Schnitzle, featuring lobster gravy, pickled celery and apples.