If you’re a restaurateur and you’re going to open an opulent restaurant with an over-the-top epicurean atmosphere like that of Mad Nice, the new upscale Italian-inspired spot in Detroit’s Cass Corridor, then it should be supported by dishes that hit, sing, and impart flavors worthy of the commotion that surrounds them. Otherwise, you may meet some who came first for an experience and then a meal, but the more discerning diners, those concerned with culinary excellence over the interior design ponies and the loud, minimalist house, They may find everything a little tacky and amateurish. .
It’s a big risk to take.
The team behind Mad Nice was brave enough to take advantage of that opportunity. The restaurant is the latest Heirloom Hospitality concept from restaurateur Jeremy Sasson, who also operates Townhouse restaurants in Birmingham and downtown Detroit, as well as Prime + Proper, also in Detroit. The latter, a high-end steakhouse known for its rowdiness, has an interior and pose that isn’t as crazy as Mad Nice, but anyone familiar with Prime + Proper wouldn’t be surprised if Mad Nice was Sasson’s next step .
The environment he and interior design firm Parini created is unlike anything in Detroit, and so is the experience. The palette of coral, sea green and opulent white found in the extravagant modern furniture is undeniably interesting. And people watching is fantastic. Looking at my notes, a diner and I used descriptives like “Candy Land,” “Jersey Shore nightclub,” “sex dungeon door,” “Circus Circus,” “Barbie,” “South Beach mall,” “ “high-end shopping center.” Cheesecake Factory”, “Whose ego?”, etc.
It’s an energetic dining experience, with loud music and young diners sipping drinks at the bar, and it feels less like a pre-club stop and more like the first club of the night.
Mad Nice sometimes recalls the short-lived downtown French restaurant Savant, which offered caviar and “bumps” of edible gold, a spoonful served in a customer’s fist (as if taking cocaine) in an article called “The Most “fines of life.” ”That also included a champagne chaser. Sure, it was pretty strange, but Savant backed it up: It turned out to be some of the best food in Detroit for a while, before everything went wrong and it closed.
So does Mad Nice’s food match the show? The menu, created by executive chef Myles McVay of the former Otus Supply in Ferndale, has some interesting options among a mix of dishes like oysters, raw, pizza, whole branzino, heavy meats and pastas like ravioli with black truffle, chili and kombucha and yolk. A pleasant surprise was the “MF Huge Short Rib” which we had to mention just because of the name and is indeed a huge portion of fairly tender short rib in a The Flintstones-bone style, all enhanced with sweet, complex mole and an herb chimichurri that worked surprisingly well together. The package is topped with ribbons of roast pumpkin, although one diner said it rose to the level of “decent wedding food” at best.
At the bar, the mezcal in the Detroit Aristocratic Club cocktail was hard to detect, but the green chartreuse, lemongrass, grapefruit, and lime blended beautifully. There is a long selection of Italian wines, a short list of beers and a good number of amaros and aperitifs.
Raw products should be avoided. What makes beef tartare great is the interplay between the flavor and texture of the meat and whatever it’s mixed with. Morsels of tartare ranged from mealy and soft to soft and overly garlicky, but at no point did the flavor of the meat shine, nor was there any effective interaction with the pickled mustard seeds or olives. I had the burger because the dish looked like it had potential, although one diner only took one bite before giving up. The scallop crudo came with a large portion of scallops, but they were a bit fishy and the strawberry mixture that went with it tasted like Glade PlugIns air freshener.
The tender, smoky pork leg complemented well with a salad of herbs, tangy beans and asparagus, but both sides contained what turned out to be the best bites of the meal. A cucumber and dill salad reminded me of a version of an Eastern European vinegar-soaked cucumber dish my mom used to make. This comes with sesame, dill, kohlrabi and acid from the lime, and here the acid, creaminess and crunch agree. We also enjoyed sweet and spicy broccoli dipped in tamari honey and topped with spiced sunflower seeds. Put this on a meat and you have a successful main course.
The service wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t reach the level one expects from a restaurant that bills itself as Mad Nice. And that was the theme. Mad Nice made it big and it’s not terrible, it just doesn’t live up to its own expectations.
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