If you’re looking for a place to have a spirited cocktail steps from the Spirit of Detroit statue, look no further, as Townhouse has slipped into the prime location in the Ally Financial building (formerly the HQ of Comerica Bank) at the intersection of Woodward and Congress.
Trundling in, here’s what we found. For those who do not know, Townhouse also has a location in the suburb of Birmingham.
The decor is beautiful urban chic. It’s clean and looks very big-city. The decor of the place has touches that evoke the positive Detroit movement. The chalkboard signs, the cute sayings on the walls. It’s a well-designed place.
Menu-wise, let’s be clear: It’s going to cost you. You can get a $39 Elk; $12 Pork and Beans; and Mac & Cheese (with crumbles) is going to run you $12. We’re writers. We’re used to picking up Pork and Beans at the Family Dollar between paychecks for $1.20. But we knew ahead of time that this place was on the pricier side, so we thought you should too.
The drinks are listed in a red Bison leather beverage menu (crafty) and are excellent. They’re on par with any of the good local craft cocktail places you’re going to find. One of their standouts, the Suits and Cigars, was quite good. Made with Old Grand Dad Bourbon, Creme De Cacao, Oloroso Sherry, and Luxardo Cherry it was quite tasty. Of course, we had to put them through their paces with an old standard, the Old Fashioned, which stood up to the test. The service was friendly and snappy.
Their beer selection is pretty wide, and it seems like the place has been designed with the advertising agency and law tenants upstairs in their building in mind. In fact, people were sketching and discussing cars at the bar. There are two bars, and the outdoor bar and patio gives an excellent, urban view of the city. Like Wright & Company, it’s the kind of place that makes you think Detroit has really changed a lot while you’re inside gazing at downtown. In fact you could almost forget you were in Detroit.
However we remembered we were in Detroit when we shelled out $19 for their burger with fries. Look, we’re all for doing what you do as a restaurant, but $19 for a burger is a little over the top (we paid for our own way, by the way). Now, if you build your own burger, you can get the cost down to $14, but holy tomato, that’s a lot of money for a burger, even if it has like 400 different meats blended together (ok, ok, it’s a “proprietary blend of 28 day aged steak cuts”).
On their build-it menu what kinda got us was that they charge for lettuce. Yup. You’re dropping $14 for the build-your-own and then you’re paying for lettuce (75 cents for Boston Lettuce – or also Arugula, which we know isn’t technically lettuce but close enough). Oh, and tomato too. Our recommendation is just do the thing as it’s on the menu, the Townhouse Burger. It’s definitely good, and also clearly how they intended your culinary journey to go.
The one thing we didn’t see a charge for was onion – which is kind of a violation of the “Holy Trinity” of toppings.
Look, Burger King lets me have it my way. Lettuce, tomato and onion are fundamental rights that belong to a burger, no charge. We know it’s not BK, but we also know how much that particular stuff doesn’t cost. And you’ve invested a pretty decent amount when you do this burger.
We’ll come back and try some more things; after all, this is by definition a “Quick Look.” Their Dim Sum is something to behold, we’re told, and the Yuzu-Miso Yellowtail as well.
Everything is artisanal and every other culinary word we’ve become familiar with in the city. There’s a “Local Farmer” section to the menu. Local everything when eating out generally costs money.
And that’s A.O.K. We totally get it. It was tasty. And pretty. Just know what you’re in for, readers. It felt like a slice of Birmingham plopped into the center of Downtown Detroit. If that’s your thing, you’ll love it. If it’s not, you won’t. That’s for you to decide.