Restaurant Report: Le Suprême, The Apparatus Room, and Ash—Bar

Our take on the menus and vibes at restaurants in three downtown hotels, all of which are in historic buildings.
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The monumental Suprême Plateau ($285) is a shareable tower of 12 oysters, clams, salmon tartare, shrimp, lobster, king crab, and mussels escabeche, served at Le Suprême in the Book Tower. // Photograph by Olsovsky Williams

Le Suprême: Parisian eats in the heart of Detroit

We’d all love a trip to Paris sometime soon, but we’re Americans — we work a lot. In fact, fewer than half of us use all our vacation days. Fortunately, there’s a new eatery in the heart of Detroit that aims to transport diners to the City of Light. If you’re looking for French dining with the bonus of personable and friendly American service, this may be your spot.

Le Suprême, open since late August, is the first eatery to occupy the Book Tower, a 1926 Italian Renaissance-style building in downtown Detroit, after its seven-year, nearly $400 million renovation by Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock.

It’s a self-described “Parisian-inspired brasserie.” Brasserie translates literally to “brewery.” The term was first used in mid-19th-century Alsace, France, and referred to a place where you could enjoy an unpretentious meal and wash it down with house-brewed beer. It evolved to mean simply a large, casual-dining restaurant (no on-site beer brewing necessary).

While Le Suprême’s atmosphere is relaxed, it’s certainly an upscale experience. The 1920s-inspired dining room has a cinematic quality; you might expect to see Salvador Dalí off in a corner doodling on a napkin. The faded gold walls (newly painted) are accented with handmade green tile and dark wood paneling. There are mosaic marble floors and cozy oxblood leather booths.

The extensive drink menu includes over 300 handpicked wines. And if you want to learn more about any of them, you’re in for a treat — Book Tower Beverage Director Patrick Jobst is one of a select few card-carrying advanced sommeliers in the entire state of Michigan.

Le Suprême’s picturesque dining room includes cafe tables from Ardamez and chairs from Maison Louis Drucker (both French furniture makers) as well as a mosaic marble floor. // Photograph by Olsovsky Williams

The bar menu also includes an impressive selection of pastis, absinthe, and signature cocktails that pay homage to Paris. However, if you’re avoiding booze, you may want to try La Vierge, a refreshing mocktail made with absinthe and sparkling wine (both 0 percent alcohol).

Escargots a la Bourguignonne (Burgundy snails, $17) are the perfect starter. For anyone new to eating small creatures that slither: Have no fear. The dish provides a gentle entry point to the French staple — the snails are served sans shell, swimming with button mushrooms in a garlicky parsley butter sauce.

One of the standout mains is the honey-roasted duck breast ($41) — tender and flavorful, with foie gras (the liver, a rich and delicate part of the duck). It’s served with braised endive and sauce bigarade, a classic French mixture that balances sweetness with bitter orange. Equally as tasty is the simple and mild trout amandine ($34). It stars Michigan rainbow trout, topped with toasted almonds, haricots verts (French green beans), and brown butter to add to the nuttiness.

For dessert, don’t miss the sorbet, which comes in a rotating selection of flavors. Or, if you’ve saved enough room, the rich gateau au chocolat (chocolate cake with fresh raspberries and silky chocolate cremeux) pairs well with a hot espresso drink or a dessert wine. — Jack Thomas

Le Suprême is located at 1265 Washington Blvd., Detroit. Call 313-597-7734 or visit lesupremedetroit.com for more.


The Apparatus Room: The restaurant’s new food and drink team has major chops

Overseen by Executive Chef Rece Hogerheide, The Apparatus Room’s open kitchen brings diners closer to the action. // Photograph courtesy of Detroit Foundation Hotel

If you know that the Detroit Fire Department once used the ground floor of the building at 250 W. Larned as its equipment garage, it becomes clear why the current occupant is named The Apparatus Room.

The building was combined with neighboring Pontchartrain Wine Cellars to create the Detroit Foundation Hotel in 2017, and the first floor was spiffed up as a fine-dining, “iconic New American” restaurant, with rich, burnished woods; peacock-blue paint and drapes; leather booths that evoke vintage car seats; a large marble and walnut oval bar; and an open kitchen.

The transformation was pulled off by dozens of Detroit designers and artisans to make it the most Detroit-centric space possible. Every piece of art, flooring, and lighting was sourced, salvaged, or created in Detroit. A rack of dry fire hoses is a finishing touch.

The new food and wine team, as of April, brings impressive talent to the enterprise. A big proponent of locally sourced ingredients, Apparatus Room Executive Chef Rece Hogerheide was a founder of Canton-based Felony Provisions, specializing in whole-animal butchery, fermentation, cheese making, and charcuterie.

Sommelier Liz Martinez was one of Food & Wine’s 2019 Sommeliers of the Year, having curated the wine list at downtown’s Prime + Proper, which made Wine Enthusiast’s list of the top 100 wine restaurants in the U.S. two years in a row. Both Hogerheide and Martinez are veterans of Birmingham’s Daxton Hotel and its Madam, Hour Detroit’s 2023 Restaurant of the Year.

Pastry chef Duncan Spangler has been with The Apparatus Room since it opened in 2017 and previously led the high-volume bread and pastry program for the Wolfgang Puck restaurants at MGM Grand Detroit casino.

The large marble and walnut oval bar at The Apparatus Room, which features a weekly classic cocktail along with house originals and a wine list carefully curated by Liz Martinez, who was one of Food & Wine’s 2019 Sommeliers of the Year. // Photograph courtesy of Detroit Foundation Hotel

A dazzling dinner in late September showcased the seasonal menu. It began with an amuse-bouche of sourdough made with 13-year-old starter and brilliant-green compound butter incorporating peppery nasturtium leaves (oh, everybody else uses the blossoms).

After beet (not beef) carpaccio with whiskey-washed salmon roe came a serving of trendy hydroponic Salanova lettuce with coriander vinaigrette, toasted pistachios, and shavings of sheep’s milk cheese.

Next was doppio ravioli, a style rarely if ever seen in these parts that has two chambers stuffed with contrasting fillings. Next was a round of heritage lamb that had to be the most succulent, buttery-tender serving ever offered, plated with matsutake mushrooms, spinach, morel conserva, and farro with black truffle and currants.

Dessert was caramelized Michigan apple with roasted white chocolate pudding, but a little sphere of pate a choux stole the show. It sat alone on its own plate and revealed an intensely flavored raspberry pastry cream inside, resulting in that much sought-after but only occasionally achieved perfect bite.

Dishes to look forward to this winter include braised lamb cannelloni with sweet potato, Parmesan fonduta, and Calabrian chili; crispy pork blade steak with creamed Savoy cabbage, tart apple puree, crispy parsnip, and caraway crumble; confit squash salad with ricotta salata, fried hazelnuts, and sage sourdough breadcrumbs; and Manchego cheesecake with poached quince, rye crumble, and pomegranate sorbet. — Jack Thomas

The Apparatus Room is open for all three meals. Brunch is served Saturdays and Sundays. Located at 250 W. Larned St., Detroit. Call 313-800-5600 or visit detroitfoundationhotel.com for more. 


Ash—Bar: Upscale dining in The Siren Hotel

Photograph by Victor Stonem

Those who say nay to the belly should try at least one bite of an intensely delicious version plated at Ash—Bar in the heart of downtown on the second floor of the monolithic Siren Hotel (aka the historical Wurlitzer Building). It will lead to more.

Pork belly, the part of the pig better known after it’s transformed into bacon, is itself a succulent, mouthfeel-y treat that can stand on its own with tender care. Clearly, that’s how it’s handled by chef Scott Martinelli, Ash—Bar’s kitchen wiz.

His pork belly rillons are cubed, cooked in their own fat, and napped with sweet-and-sour blackberry sauce — as good as it sounds — along with bits of fennel, cipollini, and cilantro. What appears to be a smallish serving is rich enough for a dinner entree on its own.

Accompanied by the expertly made bread of the day with whipped butter, the dish serves as one fine example of the continental fare “seen through an Americana lens” that fills out the relatively brief but well-chosen menu — though you may need help with interpreting the European names.

Take moules, considered by some to be the national dish of Belgium. Simply put, these are mussels, steamed with bitter Fernet-Branca, dressed with Café de Paris sauce, and served with bits of the pricey cured Italian pork jowl called guanciale. The dish comes with bread for sopping in the sauce.

Located on The Siren Hotel’s second floor, Ash—Bar “is designed to embody the spirit of the quintessential European cafe seen through an Americana lens.” // Photograph by Victor Stonem

While agnolotti may not be as familiar as ravioli, they’re cousins. Here, it’s stuffed with a mix of ricotta and cherry tomato and plated with pattypan squash — that peculiar little fruit that mimics a UFO — and pecorino, lemon, and basil accents. It’s hearty enough to match well with a glass of chewy red.

A tasty way to set up the entrees is a cup of olives marinated with citrus, oregano, and fiery Aleppo pepper, a spice common in Turkey. They get your juices flowing and pave the way for fritto misto, a fried mix of asparagus, cauliflower, and haricots verts, the skinny little French green beans; the sturdier bone-in pork chop with chevre (goat cheese) polenta; or a braised chicken leg with chanterelles, peas, and pureed potatoes.

Ash—Bar, like its sister restaurants/bars in Ash hoteliers’ other locations (Baltimore, New Orleans, and Providence, Rhode Island), “is designed to embody the spirit of the quintessential European cafe seen through an Americana lens.” This fairly small all-day restaurant and bar opened in June, taking over the spot that was home to Karl’s, a popular lunch spot, from 2019 to 2022.

Minimalist hand-painted monotone murals echo the working-class themes found most notably in Diego Rivera’s masterpieces in the Detroit Institute of Arts. The crystal-cut glassware is chunky and sturdy. Dark wood surrounds the bar, giving it a clubby touch. Lighting is dim, although some might consider that just right. The noise level is high because Ash—Bar has succeeded as a popular gathering place. — Ric Bohy

The Siren Hotel is located at 1509 Broadway St., Detroit. Call 313-277-4736 or visit ash.world for more. 


This story is from the December 2023 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.