Mudgie’s goes from sandwich shop to elegant night spot


Nov 25, 2015 at 1:00 am

Greg Mudge was onto something when he opened Mudgie's seven years ago in Corktown. Previously a waiter at rough-around-the-edges Eph McNally's, which had occupied the same space, he took over and rebranded it into an inviting neighborhood gathering place where the ingredients are local and the waitstaff is friendly.

This year Mudgie's has evolved from being just a popular lunch spot. It's grown into an intimate food and drink destination that can transition to nighttime, with the addition of a long-anticipated bar and wine shop. Earlier this year Mudge went to work to connect three spaces together as well as create outdoor patio seating. The result: a unique use of classic, old Corktown properties in line with the quirky charm of the historic neighborhood that expertly utilizes every inch of space in a reimagined way. The entrance now sits on the Brooklyn Street side instead of at the corner of Porter Street. Walk in and you've entered the wine shop, where bottles of vino line the walls and customers can purchase things like charcuterie boards to go. Step in farther and down a few steps and you'll find the eight-seat bar featuring upholstered bar stools and wood detailing. To the side is additional seating, that faces a window with an impressive view of the Detroit skyline. Walk even farther in and you'll find the original dining area, albeit quite a bit roomier in its current iteration.

The bar area adds an air of elegance, when coupled with dim lighting and the easy listening of jazz music, make for the perfect date night hideaway. If you visit on a Tuesday night, you're in for spirited wine tastings for $15. Afterward, you may find yourself purchasing a bottle, which come from Italy, France, Oregon's Willamette Valley, and beyond. And with the new space comes a page-long cocktail menu that's got classics, like the Last Word and the Southwest Sunset, made with orange cream soda, tequila, Aperol, lime, and Peychuad's Bitters.

And then there's a seasonal treat that comes in the form of the comfort food menu, which made a comeback in October. Like Mudge's eclectic sandwich offerings, these entrees are elevated from the bland meat and potatoes we're accustomed to and offer diners a richer, more flavorful experience. Three of the options owe a nod to the spot's venerable sandwich offerings, but with comforting, piping hot twists. Slices of bread sit at the bottom, serving as mere sponges for absorbing the juices from the proteins.

Mudge sticks with his ethos of giving guests that homemade quality in the small, but focused menu. He transforms four of his popular in-house cooked lunch meats and gives them the suppertime treatment, pairing them with heaping mounds of smashed potatoes, which are nice and chunky (not of the runny, pureed variety), a vegetable (most recently, perfectly roasted Brussels sprouts) and a salad, which we suggest you order with their balsamic vinaigrette.

The roasted turkey with turkey gravy rivals anything Grandma made for Thanksgiving. The white meat is juicy as hell. The meatloaf is another win. It's made with sirloin beef — and there's nothing eggy or ketchup-y about it. The meat is almost fluffy like an actual loaf of bread. It breaks apart easily with a fork, perfect for those who like to grab a little bit of everything off the plate when they take a bite. The roast beef has that signature tenderness, rounded out with the bite of horseradish cream sauce.

All of these selections go along with Mudgie's regular after 5 p.m. lineup of boards of meat, cheese or hummus, mushroom walnut pate, and build-your-own pasta.

The comfort food selections are a testament to Mudge's philosophy to constantly keep his menu interesting while never straying away from the core of his success. In the spring, he's been known to prepare delectable tacos. During the summer, you may find him roasting a pig on the street corner or ordering fresh lobsters for his lobster week special and turning around succulent lobster rolls. With the outdoor seating on the patio, which was also recently installed, this approach guarantees you'll have a unique experience any time of the year.

If these additions aren't enough, Mudge recently brought back Sunday brunch and he's said plans were in the works to turn the bar into a café in the morning, where folks can grab a cup of joe on their way to work.

This reworking of both the space and the menu couldn't come at a better time. A few blocks away on Michigan Avenue, new restaurants are emerging at rapid pace. With their arrivals are increasingly innovative concepts to cater to a variety of audiences. Mudge is keeping pace, seemingly at ease (but obviously through a lot of work, as evidenced by his constant presence in the kitchen, behind the bar or in the dining room chatting with customers). We can only imagine what this guy will come up with next.