Pumpkin and Squash Offer Seasonal Flavor at Metro Detroit Restaurants

By: Karen Dybis | October 7, 2020

Photo Courtesy of Parc.

Some people may imagine a pumpkin or the plethora of squashes available in the fall as only decorative gourds, but Metro Detroit chefs view those bountiful ingredients in a different way as they prepare fall menus. 

Executive Chef Jordan Hoffman believes squash is one of the finest ingredients to use on his menus at the Iconic Collection. As chef, his restaurants, including Detroit’s Parc and 220 Merrill in downtown Birmingham, are putting fall flavors in front of customers not only because they look beautiful but they also taste great. 

Pumpkin and squash are fun to work with because they can be used in a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory, Hoffman said. In a puree, for example, squash can offer a new, creamy texture that plumps up the dish without adding more calories than necessary. It can be roasted, grilled, baked or whatever else a chef can throw at it, he said. 

“I love squash because it has so many facets to it,” Hoffman said. “It has a rich, unctuous character to it. It plays well in things like a lasagna because then you don’t have to load it up with so much ricotta cheese and it brings a lot of different attributes to the dish.”

Squash also works well within a lot of dishes because it can be functional in a variety of ways, Hoffman added. It can be a pasta filling. It can work within a rich soup that warms you during the chilly temperatures to come. It really reflects the season as well as the kind of menus that only Michigan or the Midwest can offer, Hoffman noted. 

“It reflects the Midwestern melting pot,” Hoffman said. “That is what makes Southeast Michigan and Detroit so great – our menus can be indicative of the culture and the people that have influenced this unique place, and we really like to focus on that.” 

Parc with its downtown Detroit location inside of Campus Martius Park is an ideal spot to enjoy fall and all of its foods, events and occasions, Hoffman said. There are great outdoor activities at the park, which is always hopping with visitors and room to socially distance, he added. 

“Parc is a great place to drink that all in,” Hoffman said. “It showcases not only where Detroit has been but where it is going.” 

Here are some Metro Detroit restaurants that have squash or pumpkin on their menus to sample this fall season. 


Hoffman has put together an interesting fall menu with lots of great flavors. One highlight has to be Parc’s Roasted Vegetable Lasagna, which is made with Braised Rapini and Escarole, Roasted Eggplant, Roasted Butternut Squash, Bechamel, aged Provolone and fresh Mozzarella. Plus, the view from the restaurant is just as good as the food.

 SideStreet Diner 

Every dish at this Grosse Pointe restaurant is made with fresh ingredients and a sense of love. Located inside the city’s Village shopping district, SideStreet Diner specializes in seasonal soups, and fans rave about its Pumpkin Chicken Chili, which is smooth and spicy in the best way that it can be. 

Vertical Detroit 

This is a great date-night restaurant or place to hop into when you need to impress. The menu has a great number of high-end dishes, but if you want something seasonal, then you need to try Vertical Detroit’s scallops, which feature Butternut Squash along with Brussels Sprouts, Hazelnuts and a surprising addition of Golden Raisins.

Grey Ghost 

The creative minds behind Grey Ghost are always playing with ingredients, and its fall offerings are no exception. The Detroit restaurant has put together a Delicata Squash that is country fried and served with hot honey and a white barbecue sauce. 

Mable Gray Kitchen 

So many people rave about this Hazel Park restaurant, and one experience with its tasting menu will help you understand why. This season, Mable Gray is offering a Roasted Michigan Acorn Squash and Apple soup that looks divine. It includes smoked whipped tofu, spiced pecans, fresh apple and herbs in the squashy puree.