Detroit’s historic Whitney restaurant has so much to offer

Inside Out

Detroit’s historic Whitney restaurant has so much to offer
Photo by Liv Martin

The Whitney is one of the most beautiful places in Detroit that's also open to the public. The historic mansion is home to a fine dining restaurant that serves the best scallops we've personally ever tasted, and their beef Wellington — just yum.

Of course you'll pay a pretty penny for those delicious meals, which makes this place a special occasion restaurant, the kind of place you go when you're looking to up the romance factor.

But, if you'd like to enjoy the environs of this gorgeous (and allegedly haunted!) building without breaking the bank, you have some other options.

First, you can hit the Ghostbar. This lounge is located on the third floor and has some of our favorite cocktails in the city; in particular we suggest the pretty and potent Witching Hour. We enjoy going on a Thursday evening when the bar isn't too busy and the pianist and bartender are chatty.

Something of a sibling to the Ghostbar, the Absinthe Room recently opened, offering guests a sampling of the once-illegal potable. Absinthe has a reputation for having mind-altering and hallucinatory effects, and artists and writers like Vincent Van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway are all said to have enjoyed the wormwood-based beverage from time to time. Modern Absinthe is modified and legalized, but the aperitif still has a folkloric reputation.

But what if you have a couple kiddos in tow and want them to enjoy this historic gem? Consider a trip to the Whitney's new dessert parlor, where pastry chef Eric Bunge crafted a menu of 30 sweet treats that can be enjoyed after dinner or as a meal replacement. These items include Sanders hot fudge cream puffs, chocolate silk pie, Ray's Custom Ice Creams, or special-order birthday cakes and pies, which are perfect for children, or adult-only confections like the $28 flaming mixed berries Van Gogh, a uniquely flavored absinthe flamed, absinthe-soaked sponge cake.

OK, let's set aside alcohol consumption for just a minute. The Whitney also offers high tea Monday through Friday from 2 to 3 p.m. and on Saturday from 1-2 p.m.

Every Tuesday is Jazz on the Ave, when the gardens are filled with the sweet sounds of brass. Sheila Landis is scheduled to open the season and other local groups and artists scheduled to appear include T-Bone Paxton and RJ Spangler, Ed Sterling Stone, Soul Cycle, Andi Perri Trio, and Modern Element.

On Wednesdays the staff welcomes furry friends into the alfresco dining and drinking area for their weekly pets on the patio event. Proper pet attire is required (a collar and leash, of course) and pets are expect to behave courteously to other patrons, both furry and otherwise.

Thursdays are the Whitney's much-anticipated summer garden parties when the grounds are opened and a three-course pre-fixe dinner menu is made available along with select items from the restaurant's fine dining menu. Right now the live music schedule includes Willa Rae, The Normandies, Ryan Dillaha & the Miracle Men, the Scrappers, the Blueflowers, and Gasoline Gypsies.

Pro tip: The entire garden food and drink menu is half-price on Friday evenings.

About The Author

Alysa Zavala-Offman

Alysa Zavala-Offman is the managing editor of Detroit Metro Times. She lives in the downriver city of Wyandotte with her husband, toddler, mutt, and two orange cats.
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