Years ago before the trend of converting service stations into theme restaurants, there was a great place to go that had an excellent location kitty-corner from the original Cobo Hall. It was Jim’s Garage, and they capitalized on Detroit being the Motor City. There were antique signs and auto memorabilia that should have been in museums, not to mention a great collection of hood ornaments and radiator caps; and a lot them of them were in crystal. Even the table cloths instead of being linen were chamois (or that type of finish) to lend to the automotive theme. This was way before the likes of Planet Hollywood or the Hard Rock Cafes with their motifs and curious décor.
The menu for this restaurant was not large and there were only a few fancy dishes, as it was a “business” man’s restaurant and that meant steaks and seafood and generous drinks. This is back in the days of the “three martini lunches” that sometimes morphed into a dinner. Oysters, clams and shrimp for appetizers, there were a few more, but I am sure the three that I listed did the lion’s share of requests. There were steaks, and steaks and lamb chops. There was trout, which if you are in Michigan you will serve and there were two sole dishes. There was Dover Sole and then there was a baked Sole that I tried because it was baked in parchment. I had heard of this dish from customers who I had learned to value their opinion. I remember liking this dish because it had a rich sauce, because for me Sole is rather bland, but that is just me.
The wine I chose that evening was by the importer Alexis Lichine, a unique individual in the wine industry. He was a buyer, a seller, a retailer, a negociant and an author. He was also famous for trying to have the Classification of the Medoc changed, but that did not work out for him. He was also one of the first in the industry to try marketing wines by the varietals instead of by the region, and for some regions this marketing ploy was more successful and is now utilized around the world. The wine I had was an Alexis Lichine Pinot Chardonnay 1975. If you look at the label you will see that it says Appellation Macon Blanc Controlee, but this was downplayed and the varietals were the star according to the labeling. I would surmise that he felt that the Maconnais appellation was not as important, or was not that well known. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are two of the major varietals of the Maconnais as well as Gamay. The funny thing is, that the more I go back and look at my old restaurants that I visited and the wines that I tried in my youth, the more surprised I am, at what I tried.