Height of Taste
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On the main menu, first courses worth trying include roasted shrimp with hoisin sauce, pineapple, water chestnuts, curry, and cilantro; a small cassoulette of puréed flageolet beans and a deboned confit of duck leg; and braised beef short rib meat on peppered white-corn polenta, golden raisins, baby carrots, turnips, and crisp salsify.
Among the main courses, the grilled veal chop is delicious, despite being quite fatty. It comes in a mushroom cream sauce with wilted spinach. One slight negative: The “gnocchi” served with it were a little thick, heavy, and lumpy.
The Kobe beef strip steak, which at $65 was the most expensive dish we ordered, was the least pleasing. It looked great and tasted OK, but was not as tender as Kobe should be.
The other winner for the evening was a little dish that accompanies a passable chicken: a little cast-iron kettle called lobster mac ’n’ cheese with deliciously chunky pieces of fresh lobster blended with a luscious and velvety creamed macaroni and cheese. It turns out that it’s a béchamel sauce made with lobster stock, boursin cheese, and Parmesan. Some mac ’n’ cheese! It’s mouthwatering.
The best all-around dishes were the four desserts from pastry chef Patricia Nash, which we selected from among six dessert options. Each was remarkable for the restraint of the sweetness and the lightness. I am not much of a dessert eater, and only rarely write about them. But these are among the best I’ve had in the last year or two.
The first, from the five-course menu, was a moist and bursting-with-flavor pumpkin-mousse hazelnut cake with candied pecans.
Another, called the Peanut Butter Bar, is an architectural marvel. Two columns of sliced caramelized banana rounds are stacked three high with a pool of brown caramel-ish sauce on one side and a peanut-butter mousse. The control of the peanut flavor is masterly in that it doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the dish.
The White Chocolate Praline is white-chocolate mousse offset with gianduja (Italian chocolate with a praline paste) and citrus sorbet. The last of the tasty quartet of desserts was called simply Lemon Strawberry, a delicate lemon curd roulade with fresh strawberries, a strawberry cream, and a chocolate sorbet.
The glass wine vault at Iridescence is a sight to behold, with a chain belt and cogs that operate much like a vertical version of a dry cleaner’s mechanical clothing conveyor. Diners can witness the bottle-selection action as it travels up 40 feet and back behind a glass enclosure. The wines themselves were the next surprise. The list is very extensive and was smartly picked by Mokbel. Its prices are some of the most reasonable I’ve seen in a restaurant in a long time. Interestingly, the majority of the wines listed cost no more than a main course: $30 to $50, and several even less.
Choices include a 2001 Chateau Meyney (Bordeaux) and a 2007 Louis Jadot Pouilly-Fuissé, both around $40. On the more rare side, there’s a Gary Farrell Russian River Pinot Noir for $58.
Overall, Iridescence has many favorable things to recommend. If you’re not much of a gambler, that’s OK. The food is good, and the casino is an absolute blast — visually.
Cook is the chief restaurant critic for Hour Detroit. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
2901 Grand River, Detroit; 313-237-6732. D Tue.-Sun.