Madame in Birmingham is No. 2 Best New Restaurant
This week, the Free Press ranks the best new restaurants in metro Detroit. Stay tuned as we reveal the best restaurants that have opened in the past year. Plus, keep an eye out for this year’s Restaurant of the Year classic and Sylvia Rector Lifetime Achievement in Hospitality award winner, as well as the 2022 Restaurant of the Year revelation.
One evening in October, I attended the Art of Dining, a walking tour of the artwork on display at Birmingham’s new Daxton Hotel.
Running a few minutes behind, I arrive just in time to join the group in the hall. They sip flutes of champagne and admire a golden stallion that glistens under the bright lights. We walk down long corridors lined with wainscoting and frame moldings, stopping along the way for our guide’s tales of women’s mixed-media portraiture and their deference to feminine energy.
At a bank of elevators, there’s a 9-foot-tall, shiny, rose-pink metallic rabbit standing with its arms outstretched as if begging for a hug.
The feeling of being guided through a museum, let alone a hotel, was not stifled during the dinner portion that concluded the event led by the chefs of Madam, the gourmet restaurant that opened its doors in the hotel lobby last April. That night, and every night I’ve spent at Madam’s since, the artistic experience continued on my plate, dish after dish. Although it was a press event, designed to wow editors, bloggers and food influencers from different platforms, the event was in line with the average dining experience at Madam.
Introduction: Metro Detroit’s best new restaurants have hearts in the industry’s darkest hour
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No. 9: Sit at the bar for a better view at the Detroit Magnetic Restaurant
No. 8: Detroit’s most aptly named restaurant
No. 7: This restaurant may have the best Caesar salad in Detroit
Number 6: A barn-turned-restaurant takes the farm-to-table concept to new heights
No. 5: You must know the secret code to enter the Detroit speakeasy
Number 4: Detroit restaurant offers a taste of fine dining without the rules
No. 3: 3-in-1 restaurant just outside of Ann Arbor has it all
No. 1: Detroit’s Best New Restaurant Brings Whole New Cuisine to Town
A salad of gem lettuce is romanticized with pastel colors of delicate nasturtium petals, slices of watermelon radish and blushing barely ripe strawberries offering a tangy crunch with a hint of sweetness. A plate of small dumplings filled with plump mushrooms are like miniature shot glasses stacked with red garlic chili oil poured on top. For brunch, the fries and dip aren’t as casual as they look. Vibrant purple potatoes are thinly sliced and crisp fried and served with crunchy rice chips and crispy nori sheets. You’ll dip the crispy snacks into a bowl of creamy crème fraiche topped with a mound of bright orange trout roe, chopped green onions and cracked black pepper.
Madame is beautifully performative in flavor and presentation, but the masterpiece of the place is the dessert menu.
Orchestrated by pastry chef and visionary Duncan Spangler, Madam’s desserts are works of art in their own right. A Michigan cherry pie, unlike any pie you’ve seen, is more of an oversized pie, meant to be shared and topped with a frozen sphere of cherry sorbet.
The cheesecake is anything but ordinary. You’ll appreciate the deconstructed departure from tradition in Spangler’s use of Manchego for a sharp flavor complemented by poached quinces and juicy pomegranate seeds. At first glance, you’ll barely notice the difference between the cheesecake spheres and the refreshing lemon verbena ice cream scoops. Drawing inspiration from the forests of Michigan, Spangler often incorporates locally sourced nuts and grains into a dish with buttered spelled or rye crumbs, hazelnuts and candied pecans. It also takes the lead on homemade breads accompanied by scratching butter, sprinkled with sea salt stones.
Madam’s dishes and desserts are very seasonal and like all great art, the menu constantly rotates and evolves. Visit often. You are in a new show every time.
How Madam is doing her part: (Sustainability) The hospitality industry – especially concept hotels – is infamous for excessive waste. In an effort to eliminate food waste, Madam Executive Chef Rece Hogerheide and Spangler have partnered with Midtown Composting, a compost collection and recycling organization, to sustainably dispose of food scraps. In the large kitchen, bus bins line each preparation and workstation and all of Madame’s staff, from waiters to cooks to dishwashers, compile fruits, vegetables, breads and even meats in large bins. Each week, Midtown Composting then loads a truck and transports the waste to its composting site in Detroit’s east end. For a closed-loop system, the compost is then used as geothermal heat for a greenhouse at an aquaponics farm just outside Flint to grow lettuce that will be harvested for use in the restaurant.
“It’s a sustainable product that’s a by-product of what we do here at Madam,” says Hogerheide.
Additionally, Hogerheide and Spangler work with Food Rescue US, a food donation agency that collects excess bread, pastries and hot meals from the restaurant each week. Food Rescue then distributes items to the Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church in Detroit’s English Village neighborhood.
Food: new american
Price point: Appetizers $26-$52
Site: 298 S. Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham. daxtonhotel.com
Contact Lyndsay C. Green at [email protected]