Lettuce turnip the beet at the Whitney’s garden party series

The Whitney

4421 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-832-5700; thewhitney.com

Metro Detroit is ripe with opportunities for outdoor drinking and dining. The city itself holds an untold number of patios, decks, and rooftops outfitted with tables and bars and plied with cuisine and cocktails.

Arguably, though, none is better than the gardens at the Whitney.

The historic mansion on Woodward Avenue is opulent. The opportunity to soak up the history inside David Whitney's residence, to dine at white-clothed tables on the first floor, surrounded by antique fixtures like lights installed by Thomas Edison, to drink at the allegedly haunted third-floor Ghost Bar, is a treat that Detroiters are lucky to have.

And come the summer months, locals are able to enjoy the historic home in a new way.

Last week the Whitney opened their lush gardens and began their summer Garden Party series. Every Thursday night the grounds are opened and a $29 three-course pre-fixe dinner menu is made available along with select items from the restaurant's fine dining menu. Cocktails are available, although according to owner Bud Liebler, there will be no outdoor bar this year, a change he says will help staff serve customers in a more timely manner.

"It just gets better every year," says Liebler, who also notes that the Whitney's business has been unaffected by the M-1 rail construction on Woodward.

Liebler has owned the Whitney for eight years and he's been upholding the nearly 20-year tradition of hosting garden parties every summer all the while. This year the series will see some improvements, mostly in the entertainment department.

"We're going to have a better quality of music than we've ever had," he says. "It will be all local musicians and bands."

The schedule features acts from a collection of genres. For example, this week's garden party features country-meets-swing band the Brunswick Brawlers, while rockers the HandGrenades will perform next week. July will have Big Will & the 360 Degrees Band, a top 40 act, and the August 27 season-finale garden party will feature alt-rockers MPV.

Detroit offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy a gritty, urban experience, but far fewer elegant outdoors spaces that afford locals an upscale environment in the middle of the city. Luckily, the Whitney fills that void.

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