Michael Symon’s Roast – The Iron Chef does Detroit

By: Ken Cross | June 22, 2012

Those of you familiar with Michael Symon are most likely aware of his love of pork… or more specifically, pork fat. And one quick look at the menu of Michael Symon’s Roast in downtown Detroit will confirm this obsession has not changed. However, it has been  expanded upon by the addition of other great fats.

Immediately after entering Roast I began to pick up on why Michael Symon has the success in the industry that he does. At first glance, Roast has all the makings of your typical upscale Detroit restaurant, but then the real personality begins to emerge… a beautiful design, an amazingly stylish bar, unpretentious staff and the comfort of a smart, casual dress code.

As I made my way to the table I was quickly overwhelmed by the sophistication, professionalism and knowledge demonstrated by the wait staff. This group of culinary experts was a refreshing change from the typical dining experience often comprised of uniform, uninterested and unpleasant servers that frequently tarnish an otherwise good meal. It’s a true pleasure having dishes fully explained, and not just what proteins will be on the plate, but detailed explanations of these somewhat complex preparations.  In addition to their natural knowledge of the menu, the staff also had an unexpected familiarity and understanding of the unique selection of wine and brews.  They spoke about tannins, body, bouquet, and above all, taste… as pretentious as this sounds, it was nothing of the sort. The information was presented as a helpful guide towards an appropriate selection rather than a demonstration of their superior knowledge.

Moving on to the food… Taking a recommendation from the server, I decided to start with the Beef Tartare. This ridiculously tender house ground, aged tenderloin was accompanied by a perfectly poached egg and a Quenelle – a fancy way of saying scoop – of fresh cilantro guacamole, which brought a hint of freshness and a touch of acidity to wonderfully balance the richness of the beef and egg yoke. Spread this collection of flavors on a nicely seasoned crustini and you have the perfect combination of flavor and texture.  A great way to start any meal.

Following the first course was the baby root vegetable salad. Simple sounding yes, but this collection of simple ingredients is not to be overlooked.  Carrots, beets, radish, feta and mint are lifted to another level with a bright vinaigrette.  As with many of Mr. Symon’s dishes, acid is always in the forefront, providing a lightness that keeps you going back for another bite.

Next up, Lamb Ragu. Another great recommendation.  I was amazed by how refined and complex such a rustic looking dish could be. Perfectly prepared house made pappadelle noodles – a wider cut fettuccine – tossed with a Ragu of Lamb, roasted tomatoes, chilies and fennel.  This rich slow roasted sauce is a perfect example of how simple ingredients can be developed into amazing flavors.  Time and love were clearly involved in melding these flavors into what is now a new favorite in my book.

Beef fat, butter fat, and of course pork fat. This guy – Michael Symon – has got it all figured out.  Fat is in… and I’m a fan!

For more information about Roast please go to www.roastdetroit.com.