2015 Hour Detroit Restaurant Of The Year

Torino chef Garrett Lipar’s tasting menus take guests on expertly paced and emotional culinary adventures


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Photograph by Joe Vaughn

Every so often along comes something so eye-catching, so fresh, and so new that it spins an entire industry off its perch and sends it in another direction.

In the 1950s and ’60s, GM designers Harley Earl and Bill Mitchell did just that by putting tailfins on the Cadillac Coupe de Ville, drawing the first muscular Corvette Stingray, and designing sleek elegance into the Buick Riviera. Everybody took notice, and those designs forged a new and enduring change throughout the auto industry.

Today, perhaps on a much smaller scale, the gears are changing in Detroit’s restaurant scene. A similar kind of radical thinking is going on about what’s coming out from ovens, stovetops, and pans at a small number of restaurants where young chefs are taking fine dining to a stratospheric level and off to new horizons.

It is there that we find our Restaurant Of The Year selection for 2015: Torino, a little gem in Ferndale, the masterpiece of chef Garrett Lipar, a 27-year-old culinary genius who creates a sublime dining heaven at a level rarely — maybe never — seen before around Detroit.

Lipar and Torino’s owner, Noah Dorfman, have brought something truly unique to the city’s fine dining scene, blending traditional dining concepts with totally topsy-turvy ideas that thumb their nose at old formalities.

For one thing, Torino is open only four days a week, Wednesday to Saturday.

Second, there are only nine tables and a total of 24 seats, plus 12 at the bar.

Third, they don’t “turn the tables over.” Once you book a table you also pick when you want to arrive. The table is yours for the evening. Just give them a little notice of when.

“We don’t want people to feel rushed,” says Lipar. “They come when they want and can pace themselves. Stay as long as they want.”

Fourth, no decisions. You eat what Lipar has prepared that day. (However, vegetarian and dietary restrictions can be honored with 48-hour notice.)
The meal itself is a continuing string of 10 or 12 (or more) small, intensely intricate bite-size items, spaced a few minutes apart, but organized as a traditional evening of appetizer, salad and soup, main course, and dessert. Except that there are sometimes three to five items per course, depending on the day.

 

To read the rest of the article, pick up a copy of the March issue of Hour Detroit.

 

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