As I surveyed the swanky and intimate dining room of Cash Only Supper Club, I began to wonder, Is this place couples only?
When I do reviews, I usually go with my husband, because as a chef by trade, he has lots of opinions. He was working on the first night I went, so I asked my friend Marisa, who’s my No. 2, to be my wingwoman for the night. We were seated at a table with a clear view of the stage, surrounded by couples cuddling in booths. I slowly became self-conscious and felt like I was crashing a wedding.
Then there’s the fact that Cash Only is one of the glitziest places in town. You would think a restaurant that commands a $175 per person price tag — which doesn’t count extras such as a “caviar bump,” fresh truffles shaved on your pasta, or the $100 wine pairing — would feel exclusive and pretentious.
There is a sign at the hostess stand that says “Power is the only drug,” and it took every ounce of self-control to keep my eyes from rolling all the way into the back of my skull. But Cash Only is quite playful, fun, and accessible. Familiar favorites are reimagined with a sophisticated spin, and some nostalgic treats from childhood are served here all grown up. There is a clear and confident point of view with each dish, the flavors so uninhibited. And no, you don’t have to be coupled up to enjoy.
From start to finish, dinner at Cash Only is a feast for the senses. The multicourse meal begins with Rolling in Dough (if you don’t like money puns, you have been warned) bread service, with your choice of warm pretzel, blue cheese cracker, and herbed focaccia presented on a tray at your table.
I tried all three the first time, but the next time, I loaded up on the blue cheese cracker because, as our server aptly described it, it was like a grown-up Cheez-It. Two dainty radishes with the essence of Wagyu fat, which adds plenty of richness to the tiny root vegetable, and luxurious French Le Beurre Bordier butter come with the bread. You can upgrade this course with the aforementioned “caviar bump.”
Next up is the Perfect Trio, and this is where Cash Only’s whimsical yet sophisticated approach to food shines. The A5 nigiri is a paper-thin slice of exquisite Japanese Wagyu beef atop a bed of rice with wasabi root and shoyu tare (a soy sauce-based seasoning commonly used in ramen), and the glazed oyster is lightly cooked, with a delicate dollop of caviar enhancing the brininess of the shellfish.
The most surprising star of the plate, however, was not the luxe ingredients of the oyster or Wagyu but the Toad in the Hole, which amounted to a BLT — but one that has matured into adulthood with quail egg, brioche, and speck.
The Caesar salad is presented tableside, with the servers cutting up a whole head of grilled baby romaine blanketed in dressing, garlic frico, and pecorino and studded with fresh whole boquerones. It’s how Caesar salads were meant to be. All of the wine pairings were on point, but the standout was the Chablis, with the refreshing white wine accentuating the savory notes of the Caesar perfectly.
The next three out of four courses are “choose your adventure.” You can’t go wrong with either the house-made agnolotti or the risotto with bone marrow for the Tableside Encore course, so make sure you get one of each in your party of two and share. The fresh pasta is executed well, with earthy morels and creamy mascarpone combining beautifully in the bowl. The risotto — which comes almost unadorned with just a smattering of scallions for garnish — is elevated by the bone marrow’s deep and long-lasting flavors.
After the richness of those courses comes the Vera Cruz, a tomato-based soup with a kick of fiery spice, geoduck clam, and gordal olive. It’s the perfect segue into the main event.
For the entree, the standout for us was the dry-aged duck with Castelvetrano olives, vadouvan, baby turnip, and orange spiced jus, reminiscent of classic French duck a l’orange, with the warm spices of the vadouvan complementing the citrus sauce. The short rib is served off the bone, sliced, and tender with apple and pastoral greens. The branzino, with a savory and rich lobster sauce poured tableside, is another worthy entree.
To end the meal, you can pick between “tried and true” and “so weird it works.” The arbequina ice cream, named after the fruity and buttery olive oil, is the latter, served with chocolate Pop Rocks. It sounds like it would be a disaster, but like many of the previous courses, it’s a delightful surprise.
The Black Forest torte, with bourbon cherries, dark chocolate, and vanilla ice cream, is a safer bet if you’re feeling less adventurous. And if you come with your significant other to celebrate a special occasion, like I did the second time, they will treat you to a serving of tiramisu.
Marisa and I did not get any tiramisu, but we did get a Polaroid picture, which I almost enjoyed better than the tiramisu. They took our photo toward the beginning of the meal, when I felt more like an interloper.
Drinks are not included in the $175 tasting-menu price tag, and the cocktail list is on the smallish side, with six specialty drinks and martini service, which entails your choice of vodka or gin, shaken or stirred, dirty or dry, with olives or a twist, all made right at your table.
The She’s with Me is a light and refreshing drink with Champagne, gin, and Aperol to get your night started off right, or the bartenders can whip up your choice of libation from the well-stocked bar. The wine pairing also comprises thoughtfully curated selections — like the Chablis to pair with the Caesar — that draw from its expansive collection.
Aside from the well-done food, the service at Cash Only is some of the best in the area. Servers are calm, centered, and quick to respond to your questions and requests (I noticed someone at a table with an intriguing cocktail topped with a flavor bubble, and my drink did not come with it, so Jimmy, our server, brought the bubble apparatus over to our table to create one for my drink).
Cash Only takes hospitality seriously, but not itself. Is it for everyone? No, but that’s why you bring someone special.
A summary of Cash Only
- Price: $$$$
- Vibes: Glitzy and glamorous. This is a special-occasion place to take your favorite person in the world or to impress a client and show them a night on the town.
- Service: Top notch. Servers are well practiced, knowledgeable, and attentive.
- Sound level: Moderate. You can still hear your companion despite a live band playing mash-ups of The Weeknd and Ed Sheeran not too far from your table.
- Dress code: This calls for your best dress and suit. Leave the jerseys, jeans, and sneakers at home.
- Open: Friday and Saturday for dinner.
- Reservations: Make online at resy.com.
- Accessibility: Cash Only Supper Club is located a flight of stairs down from the Prime + Proper space. It can also be reached via an elevator in the back.
This story is from the January 2023 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition.