The Bee’s Knees

The deliciously retro Boodles offers old-school dining — including Caesar salads and ‘VIP’ selections prepared table side


Published:

Boodles serves up classics with old-school amenities like live piano tunes, flambéed dishes, and Caesar salads prepared tableside.

My dinner date described a recent trip to Boodles:  “It’s the place that Applebee’s could have put out of business a long time ago,” Dave said. “Luckily they missed this spot.” 

Indeed, the deliciously retro Boodles, with its dark décor, sparkly chandeliers, and live piano tunes, seems out of place at the corner of 11 Mile Road and I-75. But we realized this was part of its charm once we stepped inside and fully embraced tableside Caesar salads and other delights like the drink called “A Gentleman’s Proclivity.” 

“I thought we’d go in, have a good laugh, and leave,” he said. “I mean, it’s called ‘Boodles.’ But I really want to go back.” 

Here is what Boodles is not: Craft. Pop-up. Farm-to-table. The next best thing to hit the local restaurant scene. Or whatever else we’re using to describe food culture in Detroit these days. 

And thank God for that. Boodles is stuck in time, having kept all the character that went away with both chain restaurants and some of the new Detroit food establishments that too often seem like they’re trying too hard. 

Only a true local would understand its motto, “Where East meets West.” (Boodles straddles Royal Oak and Madison Heights, along with an implied cultural divide.) And if you want to walk straight into 1985 with that prom dress from Goodwill, feel free. 

It’s so old school, millennials apparently think it’s cool again.On a recent night, a “dirty 30” birthday party was in full swing. Twenty-something tattooed lovers basked in a candlelit glow. The dark wooden bar was packed with kids and their drinks. 

This was a different scene from what I was expecting after a local business owner friend and self-professed food snob warned me of Boodles’ supper club steakhouse vibe.

“It’s got a reputation for being the place where rich 75-year-olds take their 35-year-old dates,” he had said, adding: “Someone will hit on you.”

I don’t know about that reputation, but somehow I don’t think Boodles management would care. They were too busy on this particular Saturday night serving their packed house. 

At our table for two, Dave faced the piano man, and I faced a cooking station flanked by ceiling-high flames. A chef was preparing the “VIP” selections to go along with that tableside Caesar: flambéed classics like steak Diane and steak au poivre.

“I’m the one missing the show,” Dave said. “Am I on fire yet?”

For drinks we skipped the proclivities and went straight for gin and tonics with good old-fashioned Tanqueray. Next our waitress served dinner, which someone probably prepared a bit less dramatically in the hidden kitchen. 

My veal Oscar came with a generous helping of crab and bearnaise sauce. Dave’s chicken Marsala was predictable, and he described it as the best he’d ever had. My dessert — a moist orange creamsicle cake — basically made my year.

Where has Boodles been all my life? Apparently since 1985, right here in Madison Heights. 


935 W. 11 Mile Rd., Madison Heights; 248-399-5960. L & D Mon.-Sat., D Sun.

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

A Long Day's Coney Into Night

What’s a typical Friday like at Detroit’s iconic Lafayette Coney Island? A tag team crew of Hour Detroit staffers finds out.

Fresh Fare

Treetops Resort's Farm2Fork events tap the bounty of local producers.

Joebar and Frame Whip Up Kevell-Worthy Noshes for Hanukkah

The Hazel Park restaurants are hosting a holiday soiree for all

The World's Fastest Pizza Maker Reveals the Science Behind Detroit Mootz Pizzas

Six-time winning chef of the prestigious World Pizza Games, Bruno DiFabio, brings his famous-New York pies to the Motor City

Ferndale’s Antihero Serves Japanese Plates You’ve Been Craving

From kimchi to crispy ramen, and high balls to habchi, this Izakaya bar is worth waiting in line for
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Makings of the Shinola Hotel
    When the Detroit brand’s first foray into hospitality opens its doors, it’ll offer customers...
  2. My Two Christmases
    An Armenian-Iranian, Detroit-based writer reflects on transposing the holiday across continents
  3. New Year’s Eve, Brooklyn Style
    Tips for celebrating 2019 from the pros at Brooklyn Outdoor
  4. Main Review: SheWolf
    Born in Detroit but inspired by Rome, SheWolf takes diners on a culinary journey
  5. The Art of Gifting
    Metro Detroit tastemakers from all walks of life offer a glimpse of what’s on their holiday...
  6. Meet the Makers: Tait Design Co.
    How an after-work hobby ascended to a booming business
  7. Comeback Catering
    Dish, in Detroit, pushes through hard times with consistently delicious food
  8. Precious Metals
    Layering necklaces, stacking rings, and placing bangle upon glitzy bangle: a definitive guide to...
  9. Food Recipe: Braised Beef Brisket
    Chef Aaron Lowen, of Empire Kitchen & Cocktails, shares one of his favorite holiday recipes
  10. An Hour with ... Ricki Friedman
    Founder, Break the Weight