BY SHARON GITTLEMAN
DETROIT – Looking for great barbecue, but don’t feel like firing up the grill? You don’t have to spend your summer afternoons steaming under a sizzling sun just a degree or two cooler than the fire cooking your ribs and chicken.
Fishbone’s Rhythm Kitchen Café in Detroit is a cool place to enjoy great barbecue and more. Set on a lively corner in Greektown, the restaurant’s big glass windows are a perfect spot to spend the evening people watching. You’ll catch men and women walking past eager to enjoy the casinos and all the nightlife downtown has to offer.
On the day we stopped by to sample the menu, the show wasn’t only on the outside. One chef standing in the kitchen, open to the dining room, twirled his whisk and tossed it into the air, missing the catch with a “what me worry” grin and compensatory applause from diners.
Big bouquets of sunflowers filled flower urns in the dining room, which was lit with sunshine beaming in the windows from outside. Crystal chandeliers and fixtures atop old-fashioned New Orleans-style ceiling fans added additional light to the spacious and lively interior of the beautiful brick building.
While Fishbone’s is known for its New Orleans style cuisine, you’ll find more than catfish, po’ boys and jambalaya served up for lunch and dinner. Fishbone’s has an extensive sushi selection, with everything from octopus and cooked shrimp rolls to sea urchin and vegetable Futomaki available for you to try.
One of the restaurant’s big pluses is its extensive menu selections. Vegetarians will find plenty of choices – from vegetable wraps and quesadillas to a creamy pasta topped with sautéed vegetables or a grilled vegetable terrine.
Salad choices ranged from traditional favorites like Cobb, Maurice and Ceaser salads to lagniappe salad – with balsamic vinegar-bathed greens topped by pecans, sun-dried cherries, pears and crumbled gorgonzola.
All the New Orleans specialties are there – like crawfish etoufee and shrimp Creole, along with steaks, chops, chicken and seafood.
We decided to stick to tradition, with one diner ordering a muffuletta sandwich and gumbo ya ya and a second picking a half-slab of whiskey ribs, with sides of fries and broccoli.
Both meals began with a big basket of hot crusty rolls – a perfect foil for the garlicky whipped butter.
The soup was served next. Big chunks of Andouille sausage was mixed in with rice and a tomatoey broth. The rice still kept a bit of crunch, making a tasty contrast to the rich and hot flavors.
The muffuletta sandwich offered up thick slices of ham and melted cheese on a crusty ciabatta roll. The meat and cheese was topped by a spicy olive spread, adding an extra zing to a satisfying sandwich.
The presentation was made with the holidays in mind. Fourth of July “sparklers,” made from wooden sticks and brightly colored tinsel, topped the muffuletta sandwich.
The ribs were extra-meaty and quite filling. They were topped by a zesty tomatoey sauce that added plenty of spicy pleasure to the entree.
The broccoli was a surprise – no bland vegetables here. They appeared to have been marinated in piquant sauce that added a punched-up flavor to the side dish – but not too much heat.
The only misfortune of our satisfying meal was that we didn’t leave room for dessert. The “sweet endings” menu included everything from key lime pie to Bourbon Street bread pudding.
People who enjoy a glass or two of an adult beverage with their dinner will appreciate the extensive wine and spirits menu. You can select anything from a bottle of Don Perignon champagne for $250, to a glass of house chardonnay or merlot for $7. Coffee drinks, laced with a little extra something are also available.
Entrée selections were reasonably priced – from $9 for herb-marinated chicken breast to $65 for Alaskan king crab legs, with most choices falling in the $15-$24 range.
For a fun lunch or dinner with the gang, you can’t go wrong with Fishbone’s Rhythm Kitchen Café.
Fishbone’s is located at 400 Monroe St. in Detroit. For more information contact them at 313-965-4600.