Cravings: The Whitney & KouZina

Their stylish menus are enticing enough to attract a loyal clientele of discriminating diners, but no matter how expert they are, restaurant people like to take a break from their own kitchens for a taste of someone else’s cooking

“I’ve been a lifelong fan of the El Nibble Nook,” says veteran restaurateur Dave Duey, who recently joined The Whitney as general manager. “I actually went on my first ‘driving date’ at the original that burnt down on Grand River back when the only beverages they offered were cold milk or papaya nectar.” Duey’s favorite dish: the small botana on a flour tortilla.

He’s also a big fan of the raspberry-croissant bread pudding at the Garage Grill & Fuel Bar in Northville. “And I can’t get through the weekend without a breakfast special at Cassel’s on Seven Mile in Northville. I have so much respect for Missy, the owner, who greets you, seats you, cooks for you, cashes you out, and never stops smiling.”

Most days, you can find George Xenos at KouZina, the Royal Oak eatery he runs with Bobby Laskaris. When Xenos does get away, he often finds himself going back to Noble Fish and the Hudson Café. What he likes best about Noble Fish is that it’s a simple Japanese eatery with no frills, no fancy décor, no kimono-clad waitresses … just good sushi. “The Michigan roll is not only a great value,” he says, “but it’s probably one of the best sushi rolls in the metro Detroit area.” As for the Hudson Café, Xenos and his family stop in about once a month. “My kids love the apple walnut-stuffed French toast,” he says. “I’m madly in love with all of their crepe dishes and their skillets. What an addition to the downtown corridor.”