Metro Detroit’s best (s)quad of winter comfort food dishes

Hearty helpings

Dec 14, 2016 at 1:00 am

Welcome to the time of year where the benefits of winter have yet to arrive. It's a seasonal purgatory — blistering winds, endless gray skies, and no storybook landscapes to soften our Midwest suffering.

It's a time to turn our attention indoors — and focus our energies on unabashedly busting belt lines with comfort food. There's only so much time before the half-hearted "new year, new me" sentiments start streaming in, so let's get to it.

To help you get started, we've sorted through the menus of metro Detroit restaurants to highlight a few of our favorite plates that stick to your ribs.

click to enlarge Meatloaf from Republica. - Photo by Ryan Patrick Hooper.
Photo by Ryan Patrick Hooper.
Meatloaf from Republica.


It's not easy telling your mother you've met your new favorite meatloaf, but it's a call you'll have to make after gobbling up Republica's top-selling winter staple. Made gluten free thanks to an onion marmalade finish replacing the traditional gravy, this made-from-scratch meatloaf ($16) is a decades-old family recipe from the owners of this pint-sized pub. Flanked by red-skinned mash potatoes and sauteed Brussels sprouts, a blend of simple spices finishes off this lovingly made dish.

An honorable mention goes to the "home wrecka," Republica's take on bangers and mash ($10). Featuring organic bacon sausage sourced from Chicago's Big Fork (owners at Republica say they're the only Michigan spot carrying the artisanal brand), this mighty food innovation is placed upon a bed of sweet potato mash with serrano peppers. Wash down with an Old Style draft and repeat.

1999 Coolidge Hwy., Berkley; 248-268-3175;; noon-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, Noon-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Noon-8 p.m. Sunday.

click to enlarge Michigan shrimp chowder from Chartreuse. - Photo by Ryan Patrick Hooper.
Photo by Ryan Patrick Hooper.
Michigan shrimp chowder from Chartreuse.

Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails

Before chowder was relegated to the appetizer section, it was considered a filling main course for centuries. Chartreuse's executive chef Doug Hewitt has returned the recipe to its roots with his Michigan shrimp chowder ($22). It's not the first iteration of Michigan shrimp on Chartreuse's outstanding menu, but it's our favorite so far. Made-to-order and buoyed by a seafood broth consisting of shrimp and lobster bodies, it's loaded with sweet potatoes, zucchini, bacon, and beet greens. There's a Southern sensibility to it with chili oil replacing Tabasco sauce to help cut through the thickness of the chowder. House-made oyster crackers offer a buttery crunch. We washed it down with Classique Saison from Stillwater Artisanal with no regrets.

The menu at Chartreuse is seasonal and always changing, so don't put off seeking out this dish.

15 E. Kirby Street, Detroit; 313-818-3915;; 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5 p.m. -9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday; 5 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday.

click to enlarge Chicken fried chicken from O.W.L. - Photo by Ryan Patrick Hooper.
Photo by Ryan Patrick Hooper.
Chicken fried chicken from O.W.L.


Props to O.W.L. for revamping the local tradition of 24-hour late night eats. Far from a coney joint, the sleek stainless steel interior complements the Mexican-American inspired menu — and we locked in on the chicken fried chicken ($12) for our comfort food pick. It's a gravy-smothered bounty built for two (or more) with thick-cut cilantro potatoes and finished with poblano cheese sauce and sweet peas. Pro tip: Top it off with a duo of fried eggs and wash it down with house-made horchata. Expect a line out the door if you're venturing to O.W.L. on a foodie call at 2 a.m. on a Friday or Saturday night.

27302 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak; 248-808-6244; open 24 hours Monday-Saturday, midnight-10 p.m. Sunday.

click to enlarge Pumpkin agnolotti from Selden Standard. - Photo by Ryan Patrick Hooper.
Photo by Ryan Patrick Hooper.
Pumpkin agnolotti from Selden Standard.

Selden Standard

The dish that sparked our comfort food journey is Selden Standard's pumpkin agnolotti ($16; dinner menu only). If you've seen agnolotti popping up on menus lately, it's because the classic pasta from the Piedmont region of Italy is trending in restaurants coast to coast.

Chef Andy Hollyday's handmade take on the pasta is prepared with Michigan farm eggs and cooked with brown butter and fried sage. The filling is a mix of heirloom pumpkin and squash sourced from local farmer collective Keep Growing Detroit. The crushed pecans add a nutty finish. It's one of the few comfort foods listed here that allows for a second serving. Like Chartreuse, the menu at Selden Standard is seasonal and always changing — so act fast.

3921 Second Ave., Detroit; 313-438-5055;; 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.