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Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails Hyper-local veggies steal the show at this farm-to-table darling

Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails

15 E Kirby St., Suite D, Detroit, MI
  • Neighborhood: Midtown
  • Price Level:   
  • Vegetarian Options
  • Cards Accepted
  • Free Parking Available

Tags: midtown, Veggies, craft cocktails, chartreuse-kitchen-cocktails, farm-to-table, seasonal

Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails is industrial farmhouse meets glam urban penthouse.

What does that look like exactly? For starters, there’s lots of green – both in the decor and on the menu.

The restaurant is bright and airy during the day, and seductively lit in the evenings. As soon as you walk into the main dining room, you’ll probably notice a section of couches just off the entrance – kelly green banquettes mixed with patterned sofas. It adds a really comfortable feel to the whole dining room, even if you’re not seated in that area. And yes, there’s a lot of chartreuse going on throughout the dining room: complimentary shades of greens and yellows. Smart details pull the whole theme together: side tables made of iridescent tiles, bar stools with wicker seats, little potted green plants along the windows.

Two pieces of decor really stand out. There’s a wall of succulents near the bar area, and a dried flower installation toward the back of the dining room. They’re really playful – and beautiful – with an industrial edge. With all this whimsy and fun, it would be easy for the concept to become garish, over the top. But every detail is well thought out and pared down. It’s the imagination of Willy Wonka with the editing of Coco Chanel.

Everything in the room sets the stage for Chartreuse’s menu of farm to table, seasonal fare. Whenever possible, Chef Doug Hewitt and his team source from local farms and purveyors. The menu is divided by cold plates (appetizers), hot plates (entrees), and veggies. You can either order a few dishes to share, or just combine a hot plate and a veggie to create your own individual meal.

Your server may ask whether you want bread tonight. Your answer to this question should be yes. The bread comes from Avalon International Breads and is very good. But the star of the plate is a housemade ramp butter. It’s a creamy dollop of deliciousness sprinkled with sea salt, so good you will be licking it off your butter knife.

Ramps are sometimes called wild leeks. They have a mild flavor that, to us, tastes somewhere in between a leek and a green onion. They also have a very short season, and Chartreuse makes excellent use of them by turning the humble bread basket into a dish you’ll be talking about the rest of the night. You might be tempted to cancel the rest of your meal and just ask if they can send more bread and trough of ramp butter.

You might start off with tasty little bites like grilled Spanish octopus or spring pea ricotta before you move onto the main event. Then, it’s on to the hot plates.

We’re head over heels for the short rib pierogi, nestled on a bed of root vegetable puree and topped with braised cabbage, local pea and pickled mustard seed slaw. The duck confit is also a winner, served with barley “risotto” grilled mushroom, blueberry mostarda, and locatelli. If you’re in the mood for seafood, you’ll love the Michigan shrimp served with a playful combination of mussels, pea tendrils, whey, coconut and popcorn.

The vegetables at Chartreuse steal the show. They humbly bill themselves as accompaniments to the hot plates, or as first courses. Don’t be fooled. You could order nothing but veggies here and be very, very happy. We’re big fans of the Tantre Farms potatoes, served with ramps, green beans, dill, vegetable broth, and bread crumbs. Then, there are the lovely Recovery Park vegetables which come from a farm nearby. It’s a mix of whatever their growing this week, hyper-local and ultra-seasonal.

Another veggie you don’t want to miss is the spring vegetable caesar. We normally skip right over caesar salad on a menu, it’s just not super exciting. This is not the case at Chartreuse. Do not skip over this salad. The plate is tossed with grilled asparagus, ming choi, local peas, lamb bacon, locatelli, red onion, olives and croutons. The peas are so fresh and packed with so much pea-flavor, it’s as if we had just picked them from Mom’s backyard garden right before they hit the plate. The olives to the same thing for this salad with anchovies normally accomplish – a hit of salt and a layer of intrigue to the flavor. It’s delightfully fresh and really tasty.

A visit to Chartreuse wouldn’t be complete without a sip of one of their craft cocktails (hello, this place has “cocktail” in the name). Owner Sandy Levine is also the proprietor of craft cocktail mecca The Oakland in Ferndale, so your expectations for the cocktail menu should be pretty high. And you won’t be disappointed. As you might expect, Chartreuse liqueur features prominently on more than one libation. Try an improved gimlet, which is made with Chartreuse yellow – it has a milder, sweeter flavor than its green cousin. They also have a solid beer and wine list if you’re not into cocktails.

Save room for dessert and make sure you try their homemade donuts.

 

 

Special thanks to Colleen Connolly for helping us eat an unreasonable amount of veggies in the name of science. And for letting us have the last of the ramp butter. You da best.

 


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