Detroit has a world class museum known as the Detroit Institute of Arts, and I am well aware of it. There were times when I used to skip school (did I just say that?) to spend the day there. It unfortunately is in the midst of a possible earthshaking decision in the courts due to the financial ineptitude of the past regimes of the City of Detroit, and I do hope that the museum survives in its whole, but that is not a discussion for this topic. If you are a regular reader, you are aware that I have a great friend that has been given the sobriquet of “the caller” by another Blogger and I do like that name for him. He and his wife were planning a day trip to the DIA and they called our house to see if we could meet them for dinner afterwards. They were not planning on spending the day all dressed up and were asking for a venue that would accommodate their casual attire, but had fine food and wine. I had a prior commitment for the day, but my Bride arranged to have them pick her up and go with them for the day trip and then I would meet them later for dinner, over dressed for the occasion, as is my norm.
I pondered several locations that would be suitable and then decided on El Barzon which is just North of my old neighborhood in Detroit, but some of the locals have ceded that area to be part of it as well. El Barzon is a unique restaurant that has won over many diners of the tri-county area of Michigan for their culinary arts. The owner/chef is from Mexico, but he used to be one of the chefs at a fine Italian restaurant called Il Posto, which is no longer in business. He decided to open up his own restaurant a little off the beaten path, but it was not long for diners to find him, and they have continued to go there. In fact, we had to laugh, because on Monday my Bride found out that her boss had dinner reservations for the restaurant that same night, but after we had already left. The restaurant serves both Mexican and Italian cuisine, showcasing the culinary ability of the chef and the two types of food that he favors and excels in. In fact “the caller’s” eyes lit up when he saw that they served a couple of entrée dishes that had Mole Sauce, a spicy sauce that utilizes Mexican Chocolate. He is a big fan of it, and asked if he could sample some of the sauce ahead of time to decide on his selection. The sauce was brought out, and we were informed that it is made from scratch at the restaurant and requires two days of preparation just for the sauce. I had already had enjoyed their sauce in a prior trip, so I knew that he would appreciate it.
We started off the evening with cocktails. “The caller” had some of the house Sangria, while I had a classic Margarita, while our two Brides had a Cucumber and Cilantro Margarita, which had a very unique and dry flavor to it. We also had plates of the homemade chips and salsa, while we were pondering the menu and the wine list. We decided to order a couple of different appetizers, one being battered and fried soft shell crabs and the other being Fristo Misto (battered and fried shrimp and calamari). We all shared the dishes and marveled at how delicate the calamari and the crab were. “The caller” and my Bride ordered the Enchiladas de Mole Poblano, while his Bride ordered Cavatelli alla Bosciala (an Italian dish of Cavatelli pasta with a cream sauce and Porcini mushrooms) while I also enjoyed an Italian dish of Scaloppine al Barola e Porcini (Veal Scaloppine in a Barolo sauce with Porcini mushrooms). We all sampled each other’s plates and had a wonderful dinner. We finished off with some coffee and watched a slide show presented on an I-pad of the desserts for the day. We ordered a plate of Limoncello Cake and a Chocolate Mousse cake, which we all shared.
El Barzon has a very well thought out wine list to accommodate the varied dishes that they offer. After studying the list I decided to order an Italian wine, though some of the Spanish wines were also sounded that they would work. We enjoyed Corte alla Flora Riserva 2008 which is a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano from the Tuscan region. This is one of the wines that gets people confused, because there is a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which sounds similar from the village that is made from the Montepulciano varietal, where as Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is made from the classic Italian varietal Sangiovese, and this wine also had some Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blended in (ten percent each of the last two). We had a wonderful dinner and it was a shame when it ended, but all good things have a conclusion and we look forward to our next dinner date with our good friends.