Detroit’s vibrant restaurant scene just got a bit brighter, with the opening of Red Dunn Kitchen, adjacent to the Trumbull & Porter Hotel.
Red Dunn could be considered a hotel restaurant, a fact that usually means you should eat elsewhere. Especially in a neighborhood like Corktown, where hotspots like Mudgie’s Deli, Brooklyn Street Local, and Le Petit Zinc are within walking distance of the hotel’s doors.
But hotel guests who venture out without eating at least one meal at Red Dunn are truly missing out.
It might be the best restaurant in Corktown. In fact, I fully expect to see it on all of the “Best of Detroit Restaurants” lists this year.
It’s that good.
Red Dunn Kitchen’s, well, kitchen is run by Chef Jay Gundy.
Jay’s an interesting single guy (he made me promise to write that), a local who took a roundabout route into the kitchen. He started out studying Automotive Engineering, but dropped out when he found something he liked better. He’d managed a Pizza Hut for four years, and was offered a job cooking pizza (and other items) at the Alcatraz Brewing Company in Great Lakes Crossing. There he found his calling. His passion was rewarded with greater responsibility at other restaurants, working his way up Metro Detroit’s fine dining chain: Forte, Small Plates, Cafe Via, Fiddleheads, and Tribute. At Tribute, he worked under James Beard Award-winning Chef Takashi Yagahashi. Jay speaks of that time as when he really came into his own.
In 2011, with owner Jeremy Sasson, he opened Townhouse, in Birmingham.
And now Red Dunn, bringing along Andy Campbell as his sous and pastry chef (more on that later).
Jay and Andy have just finished the menu, with lunch being the last meal added. Diners now have the option of outstanding cuisine for any meal.
For breakfast, the “Classic” Eggs Benedict is actually tweaked, substituting speck for the Canadian bacon, and adding spinach and tomato. If you’re a purist, this might trouble you. You’d be petty, and wrong–it works, and it’s delicious!
However, the Huevos Benedictos is a more flavorful Benedict, one dragged through Southwest Detroit’s cocinas. Two black bean cakes are topped with chorizo, poached eggs, hollandaise, salsa, and avocado. This dish will open your eyes, brighten your morning, and make you drink a quart of their good strong coffee before striding out to conquer your morning. It’s a spicy, rich dish with contrasting textures, and the hits of citrus in the hollandaise and the salsa balance that richness.
Further complicating breakfast choices is the Crab Artichoke Potato Hash, a savory medley of sweet and Yukon Gold potatoes, lump crabmeat, bacon, eggs, hollandaise, and pickled Fresno chilis. This dish could easily be a flavorless mess with muddled flavors, but in Chef Gundy’s version, the overall sense is one of balance. No flavor overwhelms the sweet taste of the crab, and the salty crunch of the bacon complements the sweet potato. The acid added by the citrus and the pickled Fresnos provide a clean finish.
For lunch, the classic cheeseburger is given respect, as you would expect from the Townhouse pedigree. Here, the house grind of skirt and chuck is dressed with brandy caramelized onions, tomato jam, and raclette cheese, and served on a sesame seeded toasted bun. The burger is accompanied by parmesan rosemary fries. If it’s a cheeseburger you want, this burger has it all: right size, right taste, reasonable price.
However, you’d be missing the Pork Belly Tacos. That would be a shame, because they’re awesome. The pork belly is braised in court bouillon (water, white wine, mirepoix, herbs, pepper), sliced, then deep fried for a crispy crunch. It’s dressed with cilantro, daikon, carrots, kimchi aioli, and cashews for a taste reminiscent of banh mi, the classic Vietnamese sandwich. These are beautiful tacos, and diners at other tables were openly ogling as I devoured them.
But as you might expect, dinner is where Red Dunn really shines, both for entrees and Pastry Chef Campbell’s desserts.
Let’s start with a fish, the Roasted Skrei Cod. Thoroughly blackened, the fish alone is really too spicy to eat. The blackening spices are a bit overwhelming. Ah, but remember, we’re in good hands here, and the balance of this dish is to be found in its whole. The fava beans, the slightly bitter mustard greens, and most of all, the saffron swim sauce all balance out that heat. In fact, the overall dish tastes refreshing. The fish was cooked perfectly, flaky, still moist. Overall, a winning dish, one I would gladly have again.
Or you might choose a chicken dish. After all, Red Dunn is a breed of chicken. The chicken here is exceptional, and unique. On the menu as Fried Chicken Roulade, it’s chicken two ways: a Coq Au Vin chicken thigh, braised until extremely tender, and three white meat roulades. The roulades are breast meat, stuffed with a Dijon forcemeat, wrapped in chicken skin, and dropped in the deep fryer for a crunchy, crispy exterior. The dish is plated wonderfully, atop pesto mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, sweet corn, apple salad, garnished with pan jus.
The house specialty dessert is Chocolate for Two, a trio of (gluten free) dark chocolate delights: a flourless chocolate cake, a dark chocolate macaron, and a pot de creme, with caramelized bananas. The plate is finished with fresh berries, and mint and raspberry sauces. The cake is deeply deeply chocolate, rich yet not too sweet. The macaron has a properly crispy shell, and is filled with a dark chocolate ganache. The pot du creme is the same dark chocolate, lightened up a tad with the addition of some white chocolate. The custard is silky smooth, and deeply satisfying. And because the chocolate flavors in all three elements are so profoundly decadent, this dish really is suitable as a great meal ending for two.
There’s a clear influence of French and Asian on the menu, most notably in the overall balance of the dishes. Rarely does a single element overwhelm a dish. Rather, there’s a harmony of ingredients building to a greater whole.
For a restaurant that has just opened, it is remarkable Red Dunn is turning out food of this quality. That’s really a tribute to Chef Gundy and his team, as well as Dustin Walker, Trumbull & Porter’s Food & Beverage Manager. Service did vary some over the four visits, but the food stayed at the same exceptional level. I’d suggest you get here now, before it’s fully discovered.
Red Dunn Kitchen is adjacent to the Trumbull & Porter Hotel, located at 1331 Trumbull Street, Detroit, MI. Red Dunn is open daily from 6 a.m. – 2 a.m. Reservations are available on their Web Site, reddunnkitchen.com, or through Open Table.
Copyright 2017 by Tim Flucht. All photos copyright 2017 by Tim Flucht, and are not to be used without express permission.