We had Cliff Bell’s on our Eating Out Wishlist for a while and received a gift card from my cousin, Andrew, for Christmas so we another excuse to go try it. Last Saturday, we drove down to Detroit for a Red Wing hockey game, parked near Joe Louis Arena and then hopped on the People Mover to Grand Circus Park. From there, Cliff Bell’s is only a short walk.
We arrived just after opening, so there was only one or two other tables occupied. The decor is very cool, with a huge mahogany bar, curved ceilings, and lots of art deco touches. Overall, we thought the food was good, but it was expensive and the service was extremely slow. All aspects of the service from the waiter, the bartender, and the kitchen were so slow that it took us over 2 hours to have dinner and we got to the hockey game late.
What We Drank
New Holland Citrus vodka (made in Michigan!), muddled basil, seasonal berries, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup.
New Holland Hatter Royal Hopquila (made in Michigan!), muddled cilantro, serrano peppers, lime juice, and simple syrup.
Hard Luck Root Beer Barrel vodka (made in Michigan!), Amarula cream liquor, and Jameson.
Remy Martin Grand Cru, Cointreau, lemon juice, and simple syrup (rimmed in confectionery sugar).
The cocktails were good, but overpriced at $12 a pop for a on the small-side martini glass. The Junior’s Siesta was also a let down because both the menu and the waiter warned us that it was really spicy, but it wasn’t spicy at all. It tasted more like a margarita than anything else.
What We Ate
Warm bechemel over ham & gruyere on brioche with pomme frites.
Stuffed with brown rice & quinoa with chevre mousse and wild asparagus slaw.
Overall the food was good, especially the croque monsieere, which I had never had before. It had good flavor and texture. The poblano pepper, while overall it was OK, it lacked flavor and was a really small portion. It was $15 for one stuffed pepper and a few stalks of asparagus. The stuffing of quinoa and brown rice needed something to pep it up a bit.
However, the rolls on the table were delicious! They looked like a yeasted roll, but tasted and smelled like a buttermilk biscuit. The bread basked was brought out with dinner, it would have been nice to have it to nibble on while we were waiting for our entrees.
We also decided to order dessert and ended up getting an apple bilini with vanilla ice cream. It was very good, kind of like a caramelized pancake, but it took 40 minutes to make!
While I really enjoyed the croque monsieere and the dessert as well as the atmosphere, I don’t think I’ll go back to Cliff Bell’s due to the high prices and slow service. I think I’ll figure out how to make an excellent croque monsieere at home instead! At least the night wasn’t a total bust, the Red Wings beat the Maple Leafs 4-2 in a very exciting (and noisy) game!