Restaurant of the Year 2011: Iridescence


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 Iridescence is a sassy, white-linen restaurant with a style and flair all its own. The menu is heavily flavored with French and Asian cooking styles that emerge from a kitchen run by a 30-year-old chef whose culinary mentor was one of metro Detroit’s greats.

Perched like a crown atop the casino’s 16-floor hotel, the two-tiered dining room is flanked by massive Dale Chihuly-like glass panels that rise the full height of the interior and frame the open kitchen.

Suspended from the ceiling are glass globes of assorted sizes that seem to float bubble-like, lending a momentary sensation of being inside a glass of champagne.

The dining room’s top-tier tables face the twinkling panorama of Detroit’s night sky, while velvet half-moon-shaped banquettes and well-spaced four-seat tables with high-back padded chairs create an intimate setting on the lower level.

 

Interestingly, the hotel and the casino are in separate buildings, a blessing for anyone not into gambling, the jangle of slot machines, or cigarette smoke (smoking is legal on casino floors).

Combine the exceptional food with the setting, refined table service, and well-priced wine list, and the result is an unusual and enjoyable dining experience. According to chef Derik Watson, Iridescence has become a very popular place for proposing marriage. “At least six times a year, I’m asked to put a ring in a cake,” he says. “And those are just the ones we know about.”

Across our several visits in the last 18 months, Watson’s menu and cooking have evolved and become more focused. “In the beginning, we were trying to figure out what we were,” Watson says. “We wanted fine dining, but we also needed to fill chairs. That meant making the food approachable. … We do better selling chicken than squab.

“What we do on the menu is to try to elevate the familiar, taking dishes people know and adding new, different twists.” A chicken potpie, for example, is enhanced with truffle oil.


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