Review: Gold Cash Gold gets new chef, keeps old favorites

Solid gold

Mar 1, 2017 at 1:00 am
Clockwise, from left: 1/2 Chicken 2 Ways, Loup de Mer, and Kale and Grain salad.
Clockwise, from left: 1/2 Chicken 2 Ways, Loup de Mer, and Kale and Grain salad. Tom Perkins

We first visited Gold Cash Gold shortly after it opened in 2015. We fell in love with the extensive use of pork throughout the menu, the unique and welcoming decor, and the incredibly attentive and professional service. Through the ownership's strong efforts to maintain an identity and a vision, Gold Cash Gold has seen success and recognition since they began serving food.

View seven gorgeous photos from Gold Cash Gold here.

Late last year, it was announced that chef Josh Stockton was moving on, headed to that neon paradise out West. As with any restaurant where the chef's personal identity is tied deeply to the restaurant's identity, this change caused some consternation — that is, until we saw the name of the chef replacing him.

It is, once again, a testament to the evolution of Detroit's restaurant culture: In the past, a chef who didn't immediately find a good fit at the helm of a particular kitchen might abandon the city, and find some suburban or out-of-state joint to haunt. This, happily, is no longer the case. Chef Brendon Edwards, a Michigan-grown product, earned himself the spot at Gold Cash Gold by staying in the Detroit restaurant and chef scene and working hard.

Edwards strolls the dining room and commands the pass in the kitchen with authority and humility, greeting guests and calmly sending out food as though he's always been there; the staff follows his lead and is casual yet polite, knowledgeable, and ready to guide you through the menu. There are usually around seven entrees, four shareable snacking plates, and five or so smaller plates — mostly salads and soup. The dishes range from skate wing to scallops to duck, with grains and greens and accompaniments of all types. It's smaller than the menu when we first visited, but it's more focused and each dish shows more attention. The promise — printed here and elsewhere — was that the menu would change, after all, but that some of the favorites would stay.

Specifically, we wondered what would become of the dichotomizing pickle-brined fried chicken. We loved that salty-crispy-meaty combination from the moment it got placed on the menu; the comedy and deliciousness of eating it with a glass of champagne was never lost on us either. Edwards, thankfully, hasn't made it disappear, but he has applied a tweak: Instead of simply serving fried chicken, he's crafted a plate out of it, butter-poaching the breast meat, pickle-brining and frying the dark meat, and serving the whole (at our last visit) with tender and flavorful collard greens and a deep, rich root vegetable puree. The butter-poaching gives the breast a tender, rich flavor that complements but doesn't compete with the flavors in the fried portions; rather, the two methods of cooking highlight the flavor of the chicken itself.

Brunch at Gold Cash Gold is similarly executed with skill and intention: fresh-made doughnuts, changing weekly, allow for a magnificent way to start your day with a pastry and a cup of coffee; there's also a magnificent baked pear French toast, sweet but not cloying, satisfying on every level. Brioche bread makes some of the best French toast around, and the cooks treat it with respect and skill. The fried chicken makes an appearance in a chicken and waffles plate and a fried chicken benedict, plus there's a killer steak and eggs and an ever-changing quiche... and it's all just so good.

A trip to Gold Cash Gold reveals one of the secrets of a successful restaurant: Every time you're open, you're throwing a killer party with — hopefully — a bunch of your friends. The best meals we've had have not felt like a business transaction, but have resembled more closely an invitation into someone's personal dining room. As a chef coming in to a restaurant with an established identity, it's hard to make the place feel like yours, and it can be a struggle to keep the old crowd whilst drawing in the new. Edwards has adapted, adopted, and improved what he arrived to find with nary a stumble, and has carved out a very bright future for the business. We're so pleased to see their continued success, and we can't wait to get back for more as the menu continues to evolve with the seasons.