In the words of the great rapper and philosopher T.I., “I’m Back”! Yes, Detroit, your adopted son and official Airbnb Detroit tastemaker and food critic from Miami has returned and we went crazy in “deez Detroit streets,” discovering and highlighting incredible Black owned eateries over the span of four days!
Detroit is now my second home. Love the people, love the atmosphere, love the ingenuity, resiliency, and above all, I LOVE THE FOOD! Home to some of, if not the best African-American cuisine in the nation, it should be considered an international destination for any true lover of gastronomic excellence.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the current conversation about Detroit’s new food scene has left Black culinarians out in the cold. Back in August 2017, I worked on an award-winning piece with Detroit Hour Magazine titled “Unsudden Scene,” where we explored the invisibility of African-American chefs and restaurateurs left out of the mainstream conversation surrounding new culinary innovation and revival. The spotlight is focused solely on downtown’s food scene, which is overwhelmingly white, instead of the inner neighborhoods that embody the diversity of this amazing city which is the heart and soul of Detroit.
Thankfully, culinary warriors like Detroit born Chef Max Hardy recently opened a new eatery in the Rosedale Park neighborhood which, after dining there, I had to call Pastor White to cart me off from being slain in the spirit speaking in tongues and all.
River Bistro Detroit, located at 18456 Grand River Ave, Detroit, MI 48223 – (313) 953-2225, was mad disrespectful to my damn diet. How the hell am I going to get this summer body with Chef Hardy in the kitchen carrying on like this?
Self-control was an impossibility once he marched out with our first order, The Bistro Burger ($10.50), served with avocado mayo, island slaw, pimento cheese and a side of plantain chips, could easily go for a cool million if I were a billionaire, but I’m not so I paid the $10.50. A celestial culinary creation, this 80/20 blend burger is responsible for Kim Jong-un halting his nuclear tests in North Korea. This burger is responsible for Marvel’s Black Panther’s worldwide success and promotion of Black culture. This burger was the meal eaten by Jesus before preaching his epic fisher of men sermon. Yes, this burger will one day cure disease. Father God, you know this is the burger every new saint entering heaven will receive as a home warming gift! THIS BURGER!!! GET THIS DAMN BURGER! BEST BURGER THUS FAR IN THE CITY! DEBATE ME!
Moving along, this disrespectful ass chef decided to take on the Bahamians with his shrimp version of a conch fritter—Rock Shrimp Fritter ($10.95). It was fried to perfection with a delicious spice aioli served on the side that had unbelievable flavor with hints of garlic, scotch bonnet pepper heat and cilantro. Essentially, he f@cking won! This motherf@ckin fritter was fried to a consistency that would make any Bahamian Grandma proud. (I’m sorry for all the profanity, but Chef Hardy’s artisanal and cultural skill invoke such serious emotion that to express it accurately, you need to cuss. Keep me lifted if it’s bothering you.)
Next on this highway of deliciousness we move to a somewhat healthier side with Chef’s signature Fried Maple Brussel Sprouts ($4) bursting with both buttery and Italian cheesy, maplely goodness. I had them alongside our table’s Maple Glazed Salmon ($13.95) served with sautéed spinach and cilantro rice. The Canadian-ish maple salmon would be expected at a Nova-Scotian swanky small-plates eatery with a crowd that uses cigarette holders to smoke blunts. Fortunately, this amazing dish is seared right here in Detroit with skin on providing a welcomed crunch while trapping additional flavor underneath, creating a Zen-like experienced when you add just a little more sauce over the rice and eating the trio items as one spoonful of crisp, savory, healthy golly.
Wrapping up what felt like a sinful epicurean excursion, I requested the homemade vanilla ice cream cookie sandwich ($5), which apparently was created by the spirits of ice cream men from around the world who came together to preserve their legacy. They then bestowed the recipe to Chef Hardy, who has concocted an ice cream sandwich worthy enough for Ben, Jerry and the Good Humor people to compete in a death match for the recipe.
I am blown away by this small, quaint, unassuming restaurant headed by this mad genius master chef! If you haven’t been, then you MUST! I beseech you to venture into culinary bliss and give Chef Hardy a visit. The place has cozy seating and a clear view of the busy front street so that you can be weird and people-watch while dining.
I will be back very soon to try that meatloaf on the menu. If you get there before I do, please post @thehungryblackman and let us know what you think. Please give Chef Hardy a ring at (313) 953-2225 and ask about his private chef suppers that occur each weekend in a secret area in the restaurant. Yeah, I’m serious. There is a secret dining room. Yes, you are very welcome. No need to thank me. Just follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and drop your email below to subscribe to our amazing blog!
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